Monday, September 24, 2007

Jorge Probably Belongs in the Hall

Continuing Noyam's HOF series (I,II, III), I'm going to take a look at Jorge Posada's HOF chances.

First let's look at his numbers:

126 OPS+, 302 EQA, 80.5 WARP3 and a total of 304 runs above average (274 BRAA and 30 FRAA). These are pretty good numbers for a catcher, but his career isn't over yet, so we have to try to ascertain where he'll end up.

Obviously it's hard to know for sure. Unlike Jeter, Posada is very old for a catcher, and although he hasn't caught that many games for a catcher relative to his age, most catchers decline rapidly by their late 30s. With Posada, it's even more difficult because he didn't play full-time until 2000, so only has 8 full seasons under his belt.

If we take the average of his 8 seasons, he has averaged around 51 runs above average a season. The problem is Posada was only a full-time catcher during his prime, so unlike with other players where one can assume the player's declining years won't be greatly worse than his early years, Posada doesn't really have any early years to take into account.

Ok let's assume Posada plays 3 more seasons at around 25-30 runs above average, and about 5 WARP3. That'll leave him with somewhere between 375-400 runs and a 95 WARP3. Let's further assume his EQA drops and he ends up with a number around .295.

Ok let's start comparing, although in no particular order:

1) Johnny Bench - Here's a guy who is generally considered the best catcher ever. 126 OPS+, 291 EQA, 120.8 WARP3, and 463 RAA (327 BRAA and 126 FRAA). Clearly better than Posada's projections, although Jorge might be the better hitter.

2) Yogi Berra - Another all-time great. 125 OPS +, 288 EQA, 113.7 WARP3 and 401 RAA (271 BRAA and 130 FRAA). Closer to Posada based on runs above average, but the WARP3 is out of reach.

3) Bill Dickey - The first great Yankee catcher. 127 OPS+, 292 EQA, 107.2 WARP3 and 394 RAA (288 BRAA and 106 FRAA). Another guy who is slightly better than the projections, but not in another league.

4) Roy Campanella - A great catcher who was paralyzed in a car accident and lost a few years to baseball's segregation policies. Like Posada, he didn't start catching full-time in the majors until his mid-20s. 124 OPS+, 293 EQA, 71.6 WARP3 but only 265 RAA (188 BRAA and 77 FRAA). Although for different reasons, Posada and Campanella had similar careers, with similar numbers.

5) Mickey Cochrane - Played on those great A's teams of the late 20s, early 30s. 128 OPS+, .297 ERA, 87.5 WARP3, and 297 RAA (248 BRAA and 48 FRAA). Like Posada (assuming he doesn't play until 40), he didn't have a long career, and his numbers are right around where Posada is now. Since Posada should add to those numbers, I think he'll end up ahead of Cochrane.

6) Carlton Fisk - Played forever. 117 OPS+, .285 EQA, 117 WARP3, 325 RAA (288 BRAA and 37 FRAA). Posada won't catch the WARP3, but should end up with more RAA, and a higher EQA.

Ok one more HOFer.

7) Gabby Hartnett - Great catcher. 126 OPS+, 294 EQA, 111.4 WARP3, and 398 RAA (286 BRAA and 112 FRAA). The RAA and EQA is right around where Posada should end up, but he won't get near the WARP3.

Let's look at two of Posada's contemporaries:

1) Mike Piazza - 143 OPS+, 313 EQA, 98.8 WARP3, and 343 RAA (494 BRAA plus -151 FRAA). Piazza is undoubtedly the best hitting catcher ever, but his defense really drags him down. He's Jeter behind the plate. Posada should finish with more RAA and maybe a similar WARP3.

2) Pudge Rodriguez - 112 OPS+. 282 EQA, 125.4 WARP3, 439 RAA (225 BRAA + 214 FRAA). Arguably the best defensive catcher in history, but not really on par with the all-time greats offensively. Posada will not be able to catch his WARP3 or RAA, even if Pudge is really done.

I think when it comes down to it, Posada is better than some of these guys on a per-year basis, but his career might not have been long enough. His WARP3 certainly does not compare to some of the all-time greats, but he already has more RAA than Cochrane and Campanella, and will probably finish ahead of Fisk and Piazza. If he ends up with a .295 EQA that'll put him ahead of Bench, Berra, Dickey, Campanella, Fisk, and Pudge.

I think Posada is borderline and right around where Bernie is, as good as some of the HOFer, but maybe not good enough to get in.

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