Surprising HOF Candidate

What current Yankees would you expect to be elected to the Hall of Fame?  A-Rod, Rivera, and Jeter are the obvious choices, but there is someone else who deserves consideration. 


First, a quick statistics tutorial.  Bill James, who has devoted his life to studying baseball statistics, has found that the most important statistic in helping a team score runs is OPS, which is On Base Percentage (OBP) plus Slugging Percentage (SLG).  I am certainly in no position to dispute Bill James, and I believe that he is largely correct, but his formula has one flaw:  It weights OBP and SLG equally.  I believe that OBP is more important than SLG.  To understand why, think about two extreme teams.  One team hits a HR in every 4th at bat while making an out in each of the at bats where a HR is not hit.  If this team led off a game with a HR and followed a perfect pattern, it would have a HR and three outs in every inning.  This team would have a team batting average of .250, team OBP of .250, and a team SLG of 1.000.  You would expect this team to score 9 runs per game (1 per inning), which is pretty good.  The second team does not get any hits, but every player walks every single time up.  The team batting average would be .000, the team SLG would be .000, and the team OBP would be 1.000.  This team would score an infinite number of runs in the first inning.


Now on to the HOF candidate.  Did you know that Jorge Posada has one less HR in his career than Don Mattingly?  Jorge’s career batting average is 30 points lower than Mattingly’s and yet his OBP is 22 points higher than Mattingly’s.  Jorge also has a higher SLG than Donnie Baseball.  Mattingly has scored more runs and driven in more runs but he also had more than 2,000 more at bats.  If you project Jorge’s career numbers over those additional at bats, Jorge would have more Runs and RBIs than Mattingly (and even more doubles!).  While it may be unfair to Mattingly to think that Posada can continue to produce at the same rate for an additional 2,000 at bats, it’s also unfair to Jorge to compare him to a first baseman.


How does Jorge compare to other Yankee catchers?  Let’s look at the 4 that are honored in Monument Park.  In over 300 less at bats, Jorge has 66 more runs scored, 88 more doubles, 160 more RBIs than Thurman Munson while hitting almost twice as many HRs.  Munson’s career batting average is 15 points higher than Posada’s, but Jorge’s OBP is 34 points higher and his Slugging Percentage is 67 points higher.  Jorge is above Elston Howard in just about any offensive category you can think of.  Yogi Berra’s SLG is 5 points higher than Jorge’s, but Jorge’s OBP is 32 points higher.  Bill Dickey’s OBP is 2 points higher than Jorge’s and his SLG is 9 points higher.  Keep in mind that the last two are two of the greatest catchers in baseball history.  Then again, of all the catchers since 1900, Posada has the third highest career OBP.  Only Mickey Cochrane (the guy Mickey Mantle was named after) and Bill Dickey had a higher OBP, which we’ve established to be the most important simple stat in baseball.


OK, I know what you’re probably thinking.  Mattingly and Munson are not in the HOF and I’m comparing players of different eras.  Fortunately, someone (I think it was Bill James) came up with adjusted OPS+, which compares a player to others in his league, and even adjusts for different ballparks.  This allows you to easily compare players of differrent eras.  An OPS+ of 115 means that the player is 15% better than the league average.  Posada’s career OPS+ is 124, which means he is 24% better than the league average.  Here is a list of players who are either in the Hall of Fame or will be who have a lower career OPS+ than Posada:

Tim Raines  123, Ernie Banks 122, Paul Molitor  122, Tony Perez  122, Derek Jeter  121, Roberto Alomar  116, Robin Yount  115, Ryne Sandberg  114, Cal Ripken Jr.  112


In The New Bill James Historical Abstract published in 2001, Bill James rank the top 100 players at each position.  Below is a list of the top 10 catchers (in order) of all times with their OPS+.

Yogi Berra 125

Johnny Bench 126

Roy Campanella 124

Mickey Cochrane 128

Mike Piazza 142

Carlton Fisk 117

Bill Dickey 127

Gary Carter 115

Gabby Hartnett  126

Ted Simmons 117


As you can see, Jorge Posada’s OPS+ of 124 fits in nicely with the top 10 greatest catchers of all time.  Only Mike Piazza has an OPS+ that is significantly higher than Jorge’s. 


How does Posada compare to his contemporaries?  Posada’s OBP/SLG/OPS+ are .380/.477/124.  Pudge Rodriquez (another catcher destined for the HOF) are .339/.475/110.  It appears to me that Jorge should also be destined for a plaque in Cooperstown.





  1. joefromnewhampshire

    Posada will be a good debate when his time rolls around. And I believe that Jeter is a Hall of Famer, but that OPS+ will most likely come down a little when his career ends.

    Did Bill James say that OPS was the most important stat? Because I have heard him say that hitting for power and getting on base is the most important thing. But I have never heard anyone say that slugging is equivalent to OBP, they all say OBP is between 1.5 times to 3 times more valuable. I may be wrong however, maybe James did say that…


    Jorge Posada’s is the quiet professional who does not seek any media attention, thus, his stats go unnoticed by the pundits. This analysis makes a great argument to put in Jorge in the Hall of Fame as of today.

  3. pinstripepride3

    Magician, Posada’s OPS+ may come down a bit, but it may not go down by much since he just had his best season last year. If only drops off a little, he still may be able to maintain something close to 124. Bill James said that OPS is the statistic which most closely correlates with scoring runs. Since the formula weights SLG and OBP evenly, the implication is that they are both equally important. I’m sure Bill has rethought that thousands of times since, and I also believe that he now thinks that OBP is more important. My point is that I am using OPS+ to compare these players, even though something that weights OBP more heavily (which would be more appropriate) would be more favorable to Posada, and he still ranks amongst the greatest catchers of all time.

    Jane, I would also love if he made it because I believe he deserves it.

    Swyko, a much forgotten and ignored piece of the HOF is that there is a character clause. Posada’s not only a great hitter, but he also has great character (except maybe when he’s around Varitek).

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