A Career So Sweet…But Too Short For The Hall?
Buster Posey was one of the best catchers of his generation. But a sport-changing collision, a bad hip and Covid-19 limited him to 10 full years behind the dish. We use the term “limited” assuming a report out from The Athletic is true. Bob Moffitt and Steve Harmon debate whether Posey will go to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Bob Moffitt: It’s funny. I grew up a Dodgers fan, but I’m the one who says San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey deserves to go to Cooperstown. I think a decade of being the best is enough to qualify.
Steve Harmon: And I am a Giants fan 54 years in the making, I love Posey (though I’ve had my issues over the years over whether Posey is as good a pitch-caller as conventional wisdom would have it), but I don’t think he belongs in the Hall.
Bob Moffitt: I walked uphill in the snow to school and I still love numbers and awards. I still think they’re worth something, but not everything when you have two great players and one always gets squeezed out of the spotlight by the writers’ votes. Still, check these out: rookie of the Year, MVP, 7-time All Star in 10 full years in the field, four Silver Sluggers, one Gold Glove,
Steve Harmon: Not arguing at all that he wasn’t great, that he accumulated all that platinum. But one thing he didn’t accumulate were the numbers. I’m sorry, but 1,500 hits and 153 home runs – even for a catcher – is low. Poor Bill Freehan was an 11-time all star, five-time gold glove winner, a world champion, had 200 home runs and 1,600 hits, and had more RBI (758-721), and he’s not even close to making it to the Hall of Fame.
Bob Moffitt: Maybe Freehan should be. Eleven All Star Games in 14 season should tell us something. But, that’s kind of beside the point. The hall shouldn’t be a longevity contest, but you need a decent sample size. I think 10 years is enough to say he was one of the best of his generation, if not the best for a decade: three no-hitters caught, 14 playoff shutouts caught (most all time, six more than Yadier Molina and seven more than the great Yogi Berra) and a .302 career batting average
He should be in. And so should Steve Garvey.
Steve Harmon: But Garvey isn’t. Nor are Vida Blue or Dave Parker or Mickey Lolich, who were shining stars who just didn’t glitter long enough to attain the status. I do think that longevity (or, an accumulation of historic numbers like base hits, home runs, wins) should be a primary qualifying factor. There are exceptions, like Sandy Koufax, who retired at 31 because of an arthritic elbow and the ruthlessness of the training rooms of the 1960s (all those dang horse pills they kept shoving down players’ throats). Or Kirby Puckett, who had 10 true Hall of Fame seasons before a terrible health situation forced his retirement. Posey could be retiring before his time to avoid the dreaded long-term concussive effects of foul tips; I’m all for that. It could also be for the right reasons in terms of wanting to be with his young family. That’s great. He’s lucky he didn’t play in the 60s, when salaries were miserly and players had no choice but to extend their careers as long as they could to squeeze out that extra $27,000 per year. But, it’s his choice to halt a career that falls short in the numbers department.
Bob Moffitt: Did I mention he hit .300 or better in six postseason series?
Steve Harmon: Hmm. Looks like he hit .252 (57 for 226) overall in the postseason with only 5 home runs with a paltry .345 slugging percentage.
Bob Moffitt: You’re a hard, hard man.
Both: regardless of whether he goes to the Hall, we know what we saw. Congratulations to a class act on and off the field.
would have won many gold gloves if not for the guy in St Louis
He said Steve Garvey. Well, THERE went credibility.
Garvey was not a great player. He was very GOOD, and played on the best infield ever (besides Tinker to Evers to Chance), and they a terrific pitching staff. Had he been playing for Cleveland, no one would consider him a HOF candidate. His MVP award was a JOKE. He wasn’t one of the top 10 players in the league that season, but RBIs were all the voters cared about until Bill James came along to educate us about what stats meant, and how to evaluate them.
Posey was, year in and year out, the best all around catcher in the NL. I don’t know if he’s HOF worthy, but he was a much better player, in context, than Garvey ever was.
I don’t hate Steve Garvey. He was a damn fine 1B man who played in many important games. But so did Lopes and Russell and Cey, along with Yeager. Garvey’s stats look weaker and weaker the more we learn about analytics. Look at his top ten comps… it’s a who’s who of very good players who are not in the Hall. Al Oliver is a great comp, and most of the guys on that list are from Garvey’s era.
Put Freehan in, though. He’s easily the best player from that era who’s not in the Hall, and living in the shadow of Johnny Bench has surely hurt his election chances. 11 all star games is all anyone needs to say to me to punch his ticket into the Hall of Fame. In 1967 and 1968, MVP voters thought he was one of the very best PLAYERS in the AL. For a guy without gaudy RBIs and batting averages to finish that high in MVP voting and all star games tells me one important piece of information – when he was playing, people thought he was GREAT. Freehan’s comps are guys who played in much better hitting environments. Bill played his prime years in the 1960’s, when pitchers had eras like 1.12. in the 1967 AL, the league average OPS was .654, in 1968, it was .637. Freehan was at .835 and ,819. Put him in the the 1990’s and he would look more like Piazza and Pudge than he does Darrell Porter. That’s who I think should be getting mass support for the HOF.
Then we can decide whether Posey belongs.