Does October only matter as a deterrant? Billy Wagner's egregious postseason performance seems to be keeping him off the ballot by a margin of the exact number of voters that could make his trajectory its most excruciating. But if Wagner's Octobers are disqualifying, why are the men who defined October for a good decade not being given a "fame" bump in the eyes of voters?
Pettitte keeps sticking around because of his October prowess, sure, but it's a courtesy; he's not getting elected by the BBWAA. It still seems odd that the dynastic Yankees are going to be cut off at two Hall of Famers, save for odds and ends like Wade Boggs and Tim Raines. Famously, those Yankees were about the sum of their parts rather than individual greatness, and impactful supporting players like Scott Brosius and Graeme Lloyd obviously don't merit induction.
But the 1998 Yankees, indisputably the greatest team in modern baseball history, going down with only two enshrinees, Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, is going to feel strange 20-30 years down the line. There's Cone. There's Pettitte. There's Williams. And there's Jorge Posada, a breakout backup catcher on that team who drilled 17 homers in his first high-quality season.
Catcher defense is extremely important, and Mauer was rewarded for his prowess with an additional 13 bWAR. He was a more well-rounded player, and a better hitter at his absolute peak. But Posada was a mold-breaking offensive catcher for longer, sticking behind the plate as New York's primary backstop from 1998 through 2010, when his frame gave out and allowed him to complete only one more season (his 17th) as a primary DH, appearing in just a single ceremonial game at catcher.
This article, again, begins with the premise that Mauer is a bonafide Hall of Famer. But should it have been this easy for him, simply because of his tantalizing peak and his status as the face of a charming, midwestern team? And why should it have been so difficult -- impossible, really -- for Posada, the grizzled face of a five-time World Champion Yankees team, who stuck around in the spotlight from age-24 through 40, to get any look whatsoever with his "paltry" 42.7 bWAR? Five-time All-Star. Two-time top-10 MVP finisher. Passed 20 homers eight times, 30 homers once. A career .745 OPS in the postseason, but in a remarkable 492 plate appearances, a full season for some catchers.
The same argument that feels pertinent whenever Derek Jeter's range at shortstop is mentioned merits introduction here to describe Posada's defense. It didn't seem to hurt the Yankees much at the time. Maybe with a real whiz back there, they would've won eight World Series. Posada gets dinged for his low hit total (1,664) and his slow-footedness and the fact that he's not Rivera or Jeter. But while he might not be a Hall of Famer in the end, he (and several of his teammates) deserved a far longer look.
As a friend wisely noted this week, if baseball treated their shrine like the Basketball Hall of Fame, he'd be in already.