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Entries in Jorge Posada (3)

Friday
Oct072011

No Room For Posada in Pinstripes

With the New York's 3-2 loss to the Tigers in the fifth and decisive game of the ALDS, Jorge Posada's 21-year relationship with the Yankees almost assuredly came to an end. Posada, drafted out of Puerto Rico in the 24th round of the 1990 draft, began his pro career as a second baseman but transitioned to catcher, eventually apprenticing under current manager Joe Girardi. When Posada got his shot, he established himself as one of the best-hitting catchers ever: his career 121 OPS+ ranks eighth all-time among backstops, sandwiched between Yogi Berra and Carlton Fisk.

That was a different time, however. Posada, a pending free agent, is now 40 years old and no longer squats behind home plate, instead DHing and occasionally scooping some balls at first base. And at the plate, the switch-hitter has turned into a platoon player who still does damage against right-handers but shows his age against lefties.

Over the past three seasons, Posada has a .269 batting average, a .365 OBP and a .483 slugging percentage against righties (981 plate appearances) and a .236/.309/.396 line versus left-handers (404 PA). He makes a good deal of contact while swinging from the left side, but Posada's bat has slowed when swinging righty. Take a look at Posada's contact rate by pitch location from each side of the dish, compared to the league average:

 Posada's contact rate by pitch location vs. RHP, 2009-2011

League average contact rate for LHB vs. RHP

Posada has no problems putting the bat on the ball versus righties, so long as the pitch is above the knees. His miss rate against right-handers since '09 is slightly under 20 percent, which is right around the league average for lefty hitters versus righty pitchers. Against lefties, however...

Posada's contact rate by pitch location vs. LHP, 2009-2011

League average contact rate for RHB vs. LHP

Posada struggles to catch up to lefty pitches thrown high in the zone. His miss rate against left-handers over the past three seasons is over 28 percent, while the league average for RHBs against LHPs is 19-20 percent.

Along with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada's name is synonymous with the Yankee resurgence in the late 90s that produced World Series titles in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000. He ranks eighth-all-time in franchise history in games played, and places 11th in career Wins Above Replacement among position players. But the hard truth is, there's no room on the roster for a platoon DH, not with Jesus Montero ready to mash and Alex Rodriguez and Jeter increasingly needing some nights off from the field.

Baseball players age, and Posada has reached a point where his career prospects are far from certain. Whatever happens now, though, his place as one of the most potent offensive catchers ever cannot be questioned.

Wednesday
Sep212011

Looking When it Counts

White there are plenty of selective hitters in Major League Baseball, there is one count in which batters need to take with certainty, 3-2.  Take a ball and in that count and win a free pass to first base, take a strike and walk back to the dugout.  During the last four seasons, 101 players took at least 100 pitches on a 3-2 count.  The following table shows the hitters who took the highest percentage of walks, or taking ball four:

 

BatterStrikeout %Walk %
Albert Pujols 9.4% 90.6%
Brian Roberts 8.5% 90.6%
Dustin Pedroia 8.7% 90.4%
Adrian Gonzalez 9.9% 90.1%
Joey Votto 11.0% 89.0%
Miguel Cabrera 10.3% 89.0%
David Ortiz 11.0% 88.4%
Derek Jeter 11.4% 87.9%
Luke Scott 11.4% 87.6%
Andrew McCutchen 12.5% 87.5%

 

I'm not surprised that sluggers like Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez and Joey Votto are near the top of the list.  Often, pitchers will work carefully to these batters, since throwing the a strike might result in a home run.  It's better to try to get them to chase an outside pitch, but these sluggers have an excellent eye for the strike zone.

Note that along with the sluggers are table setters like Dustin Pedroia and Derek Jeter. Their ability to work the count and draw walks makes them so valuable at the top of the order.  You may also notice that the Red Sox stock up on players with great strikeout judgement, as three of these hitters currently reisde in Boston.

At the other end of the spectrum are the hitters who strike out quite often.

 

BatterStrikeout %Walk %
Drew Stubbs 28.4% 70.6%
Andruw Jones 26.2% 73.8%
Mike Cameron 25.0% 75.0%
Troy Tulowitzki 23.8% 76.2%
Jack Cust 22.1% 77.9%
Jorge Posada 22.0% 77.1%
B. J. Upton 21.7% 77.9%
David DeJesus 21.6% 78.4%
Hanley Ramirez 21.6% 77.8%
Dexter Fowler 21.6% 77.6%

 

Note that there are a number of good, or formerly good hitters in this list.  Jorge Posada saw his hitting prowess fade this season, but he still reached base at a good clip the last few years.  Troy Tulowitzki rates as the outstanding hitting shortstop in the majors, and Hanley Ramirez held that distinction in previous seasons.  With the exception of B.J. Upton, these are players that are very good, but have more flaws that the group at the top.  It seems that the willingness to take on 3-2 indicates a selective hitter, regardless of how well the 3-2 looks turns out.

Wednesday
Jun152011

Jorge Posada's Troubles vs. Lefties

From 2009-2010, Jorge Posada, of the Yankees, batted .273/.349/.485 vs. left-handed pitching.  The switch hitting catcher-turned-DH hit 16 doubles and 13 home runs from the right side of the plate, with a .361 wOBA, compared to a .370 wOBA vs. righties over the same period.  This season, he's hitting .088/.225/.088 vs. lefties in 40 plate appearances.  And while his K-rate vs. lefties from 2009-2010 was a fairly high 27.4%, that number has climbed to 32.5% in 2011, tenth worst in all of baseball.

Jorge Posada vs. LHP
(Click to enlarge)

The Yankees were certainly hoping for a much better start to the season from their DH. One thing that might portend better things to come for Jorge is his current BABIP which sits at .262, 46 points below his 2009-10 average. In fact, his 2011 BABIP vs. LHP is .143 compared to .345 from 2009-10. Posada has already seen a bit of a correction over the last month with a BABIP of .396 in 72 plate appearances. While he probably won't be able to sustain such a high average for the rest of the season, expect to see him hit closer to his career BABIP of .317 as the rest of his numbers continue to climb.