Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Catcher Project: Jorge Posada

Born: 8-17-71
Career: 1995-present
Hall of Fame: Not eligible
Career highlights: Regular or quasi-regular catcher for four World Series winners, two other pennant winners; has played almost a season's worth of postseason games. Finished third in MVP voting in 2003, sixth in 2007. Five 90-plus RBI seasons. Five All-Star teams.
Career slash line: .277/.379/.480

Games caught after age 30 season: 702 and counting. Age is last season as regular: 37 and counting. Win shares after age 30 season: 140 and counting. Win shares since age 33 season: 72 and counting.

Jorge Posada was not blessed with top-grade defensive skills behind the plate, but he gets the job done — and he has always been able to hit. This will be his age 38 season, and as spring training opened last week his manager (and former co-catcher) Joe Girardi said he was looking for 115 games or so behind the dish for Posada: "He's caught a lot of ballgames in his life. We want to make sure that he's strong and healthy all year long."

Most of those games came after age 30. Posada reached the majors to stay in 1997 and spent three seasons essentially splitting the job with Girardi, who was a defense-first catcher. Posada took over the job fulltime in 2000 and had a streak of eight straight seasons of 130-plus games-caught seasons.

He had significant injury problems in 2008 and was limited to 100 games caught last season, so 115 this year might be pushing it. Still, he has been one catcher who has performed well deep into his 30s — and as with Fisk, the fact that he wasn't pushed hard in his 20s may well have something to do with that.

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