Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Loyalty And Leaderboards

Former Yankee catcher Jorge Posada officially announced his retirement from baseball today.  He left the game after playing exclusively for the Yankees since his promotion to the major leagues in 1995.

Those aren't sentences I usually begin a blog post with.  After all, this is Studious Metsimus, which the last time I checked, focused on Mets-related news.  But I couldn't help but notice something about Posada's career numbers with the Yankees, especially when compared to some of the Mets' all-time greats.

Jorge Posada collected 6,092 at-bats over his 17-year career.  In those at-bats, he picked up 1,664 hits, of which 379 were doubles and 275 were home runs.  Posada also walked 936 times, scored 900 runs and piled up 1,065 RBIs.  He's nowhere near the Yankee team leaders in any of those categories, nor does he rank among the top five hitting catchers of all-time, as players like Mike Piazza, Ivan Rodriguez, Johnny Bench, Ted Simmons, Yogi Berra and Roy Campanella were all better hitters than Posada.  So why am I making such a big deal about this?

Because Jorge Posada would be the Mets' all-time leader in hits, doubles, home runs, walks, runs scored and RBIs if he had played his entire career in Flushing.

As hard as it is for me to admit it, Jorge Posada was a better hitter than Ed Kranepool.

Jorge Posada surpassed 150 hits in a season only once (2007), a figure that has been achieved by many Mets.  One might argue that Posada's hit total would be lower than most hitters because of all his time spent as a catcher.  To those people, I submit the fact that Mike Piazza, also a catcher, reached the 150-hit plateau three times as a Met and eight times in his career.  Posada also hit 30 or more doubles four times, reached 30 home runs once, walked 100 times once, drove in 100 runs once and never scored 100 runs in any of 17 seasons.  Several Mets players have reached those numbers multiple times, except for walks, where John Olerud is the only Met to walk 100 times in a season.

Had Jorge Posada played his entire career as a Met and produced the same numbers, he'd be considered the greatest offensive player in Mets history and would be counting down the days till his number joined Nos. 37, 14 and 41 on the left field wall at Citi Field.  Instead, he is just one of many Yankees who had very good careers in pinstripes.  Is this a testament to the fact that the Yankees have been Slugger Central over the past century or have the Mets just done poorly developing and keeping their offensive stars?

There's a reason why Tom Seaver is referred to as "The Franchise".  It's not because he's the sole player in the Hall of Fame with a Mets cap on his plaque.   It's because the Mets have a tough time producing elite players, and when they do, they end up trading them or letting them walk via free agency.  Tom Seaver was an elite player with the Mets for 11 years.  Since 1983, when Seaver played his last game as a Met, the only player developed in the Mets' minor league system who spent over a decade in Flushing was Dwight Gooden.  The only hitters originally drafted by the Mets who played over a decade in New York were Ed Kranepool, Cleon Jones, Bud Harrelson and Ron Hodges.  That's not exactly a Murderer's Row we're talking about there.

Perhaps one day the Mets will develop a player in their minor league system, watch him become an All-Star in Flushing and keep him around for a while.  Jose Reyes could have been that player.  David Wright could still be that player if the Mets don't decide to keep their pennies to themselves.  Jorge Posada was that type of player for the Yankees.  Had he been a Met, he'd be atop the team's all-time leaderboard in a plethora of categories.  See what a little loyalty can do for you?

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