Baseball Hall Of Fame Ballot: The Case For And Against Jorge Posada To Make It In

Leading up on the announcement of the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2017 on Jan. 18, we’re examining each of the 34 candidates on this year’s BBWAA ballot. By way of reminder, a candidate must be named on at least 75 percent of submitted BBWAA ballots in order to be elected into the Hall of Fame.

We’ve already looked at the numerous candidates who are certain to fall off the ballot after only one year (candidates receiving less than five percent drop off the ballot). Now let’s look at those hopefuls who figure to have meaningful support and perhaps even earn induction at some point. Up this time around is longtime Yankees catcher Jorge Posada.

Posada spent all 17 of his big-league seasons in a Yankees uniform. Along the way he caught more than 1,500 games; made five All-Star teams; won five Silver Sluggers; and was part of five World Series champions (although he wasn’t on the postseason roster in 1996). In August 2015, Posada received a bust in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park, so his place in franchise lore is secure. But what about a plaque in Cooperstown?

The case for Posada

In addition to his prominent role on most of those Yankees World Series teams of the ’90s and ’00s (Posada made the playoffs every year of his career except for 2008), it’s Posada’s production relative to his catching peers that distinguishes him. Across those 17 seasons, he batted .273/.374/.474, which is good for an OPS+ of 121. Along the way, he tallied 275 homers and drew 936 walks. Among those with at least 500 games caught, Posada ranks fifth all-time in on-base percentage, fifth in slugging percentage, fourth in OPS and first in walks.

There is no doubt Posada’s bat was special in the light of his manning a premium defensive position for so long. Speaking of which, Posada spent almost 13,000 innings behind the plate. His 1,574 games caught ranks 26th all-time, and he’s top-100 all-time in assists as a catcher. Posada’s throwing arm was never regarded as an asset, but he wasn’t a grave liability in that regard (he threw out 28 percent of would-be base-stealers for his career versus a league-average mark of 30 percent). As well, Posada long drew praise for his handling of pitchers. It’s also worth noting that Posada, for all the criticisms of his defense, pinned down the position for a reliable contender for many years.

Mostly, though, the case for Posada flows from the fact that his production at the plate, even after you adjust for the hitter-friendly era in which he played, was pretty special as catchers go. Well, that and all those rings.

The case against Posada

According to the best of our advanced measures, Posada was indeed a bad defensive catcher in pretty much every regard — controlling the running game, blocking balls in the dirt and framing pitches. Pick your all-encompassing defensive metric of choice, and it likely ranks Posada as among the worst defensive full-time catchers ever. Broadly speaking, that’s in keeping with his reputation.

As for the bat, yes, it’s very impressive by positional standards on a rate basis, but the counting benchmarks aren’t there. Posada’s modest 1,664 career hits are particularly lacking by Cooperstown standards. That has a little something to do with the fact that Posada wasn’t a lineup fixture until he was 26 years old, but that’s not really a point in his favor. Yes, Posada was patient at the plate and drew lots of walks, but making it to the Hall with fewer than 2,000 hits is very difficult. As well, Posada was a terrible base-runner and despite having barely more than 6,000 career at-bats he grounded into 186 double plays, which is the 143rd-highest tally in baseball history. For all the good things Posada did at the plate, he ate away at that value with his defense and base-running.

Will he make it?

No. Per Ryan Thibodaux’s ballot tracker, we learn that Posada is presently running just 5.5 percent support on ballots. While there are plenty of ballots not tracked and thus room for that figure to change significantly, it’s a leading indicator that Posada isn’t going to come anywhere close to 75 percent. He has a puncher’s chance at sticking on the ballot for at least another year, but he’s not ever getting in via the writer’s ballot. Posada is the sort of candidate who could benefit from a special committee’s estimations many years from now, but that’s not going to happen for a while.

Instead, Posada can console himself with what was a darn good career. There’s also that fistful of World Series rings and more than $100 million in career salary. Those things should help.

Story provided by Dayn Perry

December 12th: On This Day

On this day in 1966, the US Supreme Courts voted 4-3 allowing the Milwaukee Braves to move to Atlanta. To attract the Braves to come to Atlanta,

To attract the Braves to come to Atlanta, Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. constructed a new $18 million dollar stadium in less than a year, opening a year before the Supreme Court voted on the Braves move. Before the Braves, the city tried to lure the Kansas City A’s and other MLB and NFL/AFL teams.

December 7th: On This Day

On this day in 1939, Lou Gehrig was elected to the Baseballs Hall of Fame. Gehrig, nicknamed “The Iron Horse” had a storied career that included Six World Series Championships, two Most Valuable Player Awards, a Triple Crown winner, and a seven-time All-Star.

Gehrig was the first player in MLB history to have his number (4) retired by a team. A monument for Gehrig was created in 1941 by the Yankees, and currently resides in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium. the MLB also created the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award, which is given annually to the player who exhibits his integrity and character the most.

November 26th: On This Day

On this day in 1963, Cincinnati Reds 2nd baseman Pete Rose won the National League Rookie of Year. Rose was a  switch hitter, and is the all-time MLB leader in hits at 4,256. He also holds the record for games played with 3,562, at-bats at 14,053, singles with 3,215, and outs at 10,328.

Along with those records, Rose won three World Series rings, three batting titles, one Most Valuable Player Award, and two Gold Gloves.

Report: MLB Owners Not Afraid Of Lockout If They Cannot Reach New CBA

One of the sub-plots of the current offseason is the ongoing negotiations toward a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), which is the contract that governs the working relationship between players and the clubs.

For a long time, a seamless transition from the current CBA to the next was the next. After all, players and owners have enjoyed an impressive run of labor peace since the upheavals of 1994-95, and commissioner Rob Manfred has enjoyed a strong working relationship with the MLBPA. Now, however, talks may have reached an impasse. Here’s the scoop from Fox’s Ken Rosenthal:

The owners will consider voting to lock out the players if the two sides cannot reach a new collective-bargaining agreement by the time the current deal expires on Dec. 1, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions.

A lockout would put baseball’s business on hold, delaying free-agent signings and trades until a new agreement is reached.

Rosenthal’s story has much more, including the remaining sticking points in talks between players and owners. One major issue will be whether the players will agree to a framework for an international draft, which is something the owners badly want in the service of limiting labor costs.

With a little more than a week left before the current CBA expires, there’s another possible angle for such doomsaying …

A person who has been in the industry a long time predicted last week there would be the usual labor-talk saber-rattling this week. Bingo.

Indeed, the prospect of a labor stoppage may be getting floated in order to inject some urgency into the process. Again, given that the current menu of issues aren’t as divisive as some in the past have been and given the more reasonable approach to negotiations undertaken by Manfred, a labor stoppage would be a surprise. Rosenthal’s report certainly isn’t a good sign, but it’s hardly panic time.

Story provided by Dayn Perry

MLB Hot Stove: Astros Have Been Busy Already, But Here’s What They Still Have To Do

It’s not often an 84-win season can be considered a disappointment, especially for a young and upcoming team, but that’s exactly what 2016 was for the Houston Astros. One year after winning 86 games and advancing to the ALDS, the ‘Stros took a slight step back and missed the postseason by five games.

Given that, I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised the Astros have been the busiest team so far this offseason. They’ve been aggressive with both free agents and trades as they look to take the step forward in 2017 they they were hoping to take in 2016. GM Jeff Luhnow said this was coming too.

“I think we’re going to start making some offers right away, both with teams as well as with agents and players,” said Luhnow to Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicleearlier this month. “I would like to have one or two things done before the winter meetings if possible … We need to try and get out in front of some things and secure some players to help us win.”

Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has been very busy already this offseason. USATSI

So far this offseason, less than three weeks since the end of the 2016 World Series, the Astros have already completed six roster moves. Here’s a quick recap of their offseason activity to date:

A new catcher, a new starting pitcher, and two new outfielders. Houston also unloaded a veteran reliever in what sure looks like a cost-cutting move. That qualifies as a busy offseason regardless of whether it’s November, December, or a week before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

Even with all this early offseason activity, the Astros will have several more issues to address over the next few months. There are questions about first base and even still in the outfield, and of course pitching depth is always necessary. You could even throw DH into that mix, though it appears Gattis and McCann are going to share those responsibilities on the days they don’t catch.

Here’s a breakdown of the ‘Stros biggest remain problem areas and how they can address them, both internally and by going outside the organization.

First Base

Yulieski Gurriel is the odds on favorite to play first base in 2017. USATSI

This past season Astros’ first basemen hit a combined .232/.299/.381 (73 OPS+) with 19 home runs. Only the Nationals (70 OPS+) and Yankees (71 OPS+) received worse production from the position, a position normally associated with big offense. The league average first baseman hit .259/.338/.453 (114 OPS+) in 2016.

Utility infielder Marwin Gonzalez, he of the 90 OPS+ in 2016, saw the majority of the playing time at first base this year. Youngsters like Tyler White and A.J. Reed didn’t do much when given an opportunity. There are several quality free agent first basemen available, many of whom would be an upgrade for the Astros, but right now it seems the team will stick with internal options at first base. This is my gut feeling at the moment:

Gurriel, a long-time shortstop in Cuba, is the leading candidate for the job for two reasons. One, he’s already 32. And two, the Astros signed him to a $47.5 million contract this summer. You don’t give a player that old that much money with the intention of stashing him in Triple-A or on the bench, even if he has zero MLBexperience.

The Astros signed Gurriel in July and he hit .262/.292/.385 (85 OPS+) with three home runs in 36 big league games while getting his feet wet late in the season. He put up an insane .500/.589/.874 batting line with 38 walks and three strikeouts (!) in his final Cuban league season last year, and while he’ll never do that in MLB, Gurriel can really hit, and he’s going to play. First base is the obvious spot right now.

The Outfield

Chances are George Springer will play a lot of center field in 2017. USATSI

We know for certain Reddick and George Springer will play every day and hold down two of the three outfield spots. We just don’t know how they’ll align since both are natural right fielders. Reddick in right and Springer in center seems most likely, and is probably the team’s best defensive alignment. The two could end up playing the corners, however.

The Astros have no shortage of options for the third outfield spot. Jake Marisnick and Tony Kemp are bonafide center fielders. Aoki, Teoscar Hernandez, and Preston Tucker are best limited to left field. A four-man outfield platoon would be interesting.

  • vs. RHP: Reddick in right, Springer in center, Aoki in left.
  • vs. LHP: Reddick in right, Marisnick in center, Springer in let.

Because Houston currently has seven outfielders on the 40-man roster — that doesn’t include Reddick because his signing is not official yet — and they’ve already gone outside the organization to bring in Aoki and Reddick, it stands to reason they won’t splurge for a big free agent outfield bat like Yoenis Cespedes or Jose Bautista. Or even Ian Desmond or Carlos Beltran. Possible? Sure. Just unlikely.

Chances are manager A.J. Hinch won’t stick with one alignment. Reddick will play right and Springer will play center some days, then Reddick will play right and Springer will play left on others. And then there are days one of the two serves as the DH. That flexibility is a good thing. Hinch and the ‘Stros just have to sort through all these options and pick the best outfield.

Pitching Depth

There is where it gets most interesting. As with first base and the outfield, the Astros have some internal candidates for the rotation and the bullpen, though there’s no such thing as too much pitching depth. Especially when you consider the pitchers lined up to be in Houston’s rotation next year. Check it out:

  • Dallas Keuchel: The 2015 AL Cy Young award winner had a 4.55 ERA (87 ERA+) in 168 innings in 2016. A shoulder injury ended his season in late August.
  • Mike Fiers: The finesse righty had a 4.48 ERA (88 ERA+) in 168 2/3 innings in 2016. He completed six full innings of work in fewer than half of his starts (14 of 30, to be exact).
  • Collin McHugh: McHugh stayed healthy all season but pitched to a below-average 4.34 ERA (91 ERA+) in 184 2/3 innings.
  • Lance McCullers Jr.: A 3.22 ERA (123 ERA+) with 11.8 K/9 is excellent. Unfortunately McCullers was limiting to only 81 innings by elbow and shoulder woes.
  • Charlie Morton: Made four starts with the Phillies before blowing out his hamstring and needing season-ending surgery in 2016.

Youngsters like Joe Musgrove, David Paulino, and Brady Rodgers provide some depth, ditto Michael Feliz and Brad Peacock, but geez. Unless Keuchel regains his Cy Young form following his shoulder injury, which is absolutely possible, there’s no one in that rotation you can comfortably pencil in for 180-plus league average innings in 2017.

There’s depth and then there’s quality depth. The Astros have rotation depth in the sense that they have a lot of available starters. They’re nine deep even if Feliz returns to the bullpen next season. The lack of quality depth is apparent though. Super early 2017 projections at FanGraphs give the Astros just three +2 WAR pitchers next year (Keuchel, McHugh, McCullers), and that assumes McCullers will throw a career high (by far) 184 innings. Eek.

Will Dallas Keuchel regain his Cy Young form in 2017? USATSI

I would have liked to see the Astros aim a little higher than Morton, whose best season featured a 3.26 ERA (109 ERA+) in a mere 116 innings back in 2013. Aiming higher is basically impossible with this free agent class though. There’s Rich Hill, and, uh, Ivan Nova? Jason Hammel? This is a bad offseason to need pitching help.

Given their deep farm system and desire to take a step forward next season, it would behoove the Astros to look for a starting pitcher on the trade market. It doesn’t have to be Chris Sale or Justin Verlander, though that would be cool. A pitcher along the lines of, say, Jake Odorizzi or Ervin Santana would provide plenty of help despite not being a huge name.

The Astros have a strong bullpen, strong enough that they were able to salary dump Neshek, which is going to take some pressure off their rotation. Hinch won’t need to push his starter for six innings every game. The bullpen can’t record 12 outs every night, they’ll get burned out in a hurry, but Houston’s bullpen is better equipped to handle that workload thanks to quality long men like Feliz and Chris Devenski.

So far this offseason the Astros have been more aggressive than any other team, and understandably so. They want 2016 to be a bump in the road to perennial contention and nothing more. They’ve already addressed their holes in the outfield and behind the plate. Now they just need to figure out first base and the other outfield spot, and perhaps gear up for a run at a top starter. Luhnow has handled his major business already, but the ‘Stros still have more room for improvement.

Story provided by Mike Axisa

The Pirates Are Reportedly Considering Shaking Up Their Outfield

On Tuesday night, Pirates left fielder Starling Marte won his second Gold Glove Award. It was a well-deserved piece of hardware for an elite-level defender.

As it turns out, that Gold Glove Award might be Marte’s last in left field — not because he’s in decline, but because he could be moving to center as part of a total realignment of the Pirates outfield.

Here are the details, courtesy of Buster Olney:

Among changes the Pirates are considering: Polanco in left field, Marte in CF, McCutchen in RF

Basically, the Pirates would be sliding everyone to the right: Marte to center, Andrew McCutchen to right, and Gregory Polanco to left — okay, so not technically to the right, unless you imagine left field is to the right of right field and … never mind.

Such a change would make sense, given Marte is the best outfield defender on the team. You can assess that using the eye test or with your choice of the much-maligned public defensive metrics, but it’s true either way. Baseball-Reference’s Defensive Runs Saved, for instance, has Marte as a 50-run defender over the last three seasons; McCutchen, conversely, checks in at negative-47 runs — yes, negative.

You don’t have to believe the gap is that severe to believe Marte is the better defender — or to think this is a switch worth considering. We’ll see if the Pirates follow through on it.


Story provided by R.J. Anderson

WATCH: Tim Tebow Hits Walk-Off Single After Getting Advice From Reggie Jackson

Can we call this the biggest hit of Tim Tebow‘s baseball career to this point? Given the situation, probably.

The former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback continues his attempt at a major-league career by playing in the Arizona Fall League. On Monday night, the Mets hopeful came through for his team in a big way with a walk-off single.

Thanks to Kyle Glaser, here’s the video footage:

Tebow stayed back and took the outside pitch right down the third-base line, following the advice of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson. Via the New York Daily News:

“The whole day they had been throwing me outside fastballs and they had the shift on a little bit, and Mr. Jackson was just talking about letting it get deep and going with it,” Tebow said. “So first pitch tried to let it get deep and hit it opposite way, especially when they play you for a pull.”

Tebow is now hitting .146/.205/.171 with one double, one steal, two RBI, two runs and 13 strikeouts in 44 plate appearances.

Given that the AFL houses the best prospects in baseball and he hadn’t played baseball in 12 years — and even then, it was high school — Tebow’s overall struggles aren’t surprising. He’ll need to start taking steps forward next spring in order to have any hope to ever play in the bigs, though, since he’s 29 years old.

And, hey, good for him on the walk-off. That had to feel pretty awesome.

Story provided by Matt Snyder


Stay updated, sign up for our newsletter.