Friday, January 25, 2008

The New York Catcher Debate

In Ross' all-New-York team post, there was a debate over who the catcher should be. Ross chose Bill Dickey, but there was some sentiment - posted (by Warren) and not posted (by me) - that Yogi Berra might be a better choice. According to this list of the top 20 offensive catcher seasons in Yankee history, Bill Dickey has five of the top seasons and three of the top four. Yogi Berra's only in the top ten twice, topping out at number five. Berra does have four seasons in the 11-20 range, where Dickey has none, so you could make the argument that Berra had the better long-term career, but Dickey clearly had a better peak/higher ceiling. So if the Dickey on Ross' team is the 1936-1939 Dickey, you can't really argue that he's the right choice.

Incidentally, Jorge Posada's 2007 is third on the list, and he has three in the top ten and five total in the top 20. As unlikely as it may be, if he can have one more season even close to what he did last year, you can start talking about him in Yogi territory.


Ross said...

What I really think we're seeing here is that we need to start thinking of Posada in terms of Hall of Fame. Dickey and Berra are no-brainer guys. The fact that he is starting to get up to that class says a lot.

I see it as if he can put up 2006 type numbers (not 2007 ones that were insane) for the legnth of this contract, he's in the Hall. That's a big if for a catcher his age, but not that big of an if when you factor in he played so far above that level just last season.

Warren said...

Rate-wise, all three guys were roughly the same at the plate, but:

1. Posada has only played in about two-third as many games as Berra - if he retires after this contract, he probably won't get there.

2. Defense. He's no Piazza, but he's no Gary Carter, either.

3. Baserunning. I know Berra was no speedster, but I assume he was a better baserunner than Posada. This also includes double plays - Posada has already grounded into about as many as Berra did in his whole career (although Posada does bat with more baserunners, which might explain some or all of this).

4. How they were regarded at the time. This is potentially a huge one, but it's not something I know what to do with. On the one hand, we know from looking at MVP voting during our lifetimes that the writers are idiots. On the other hand, the fact that Berra won 3 MVPs (and finished in the top-5 four other times) suggests that the writers saw something the numbers don't show. (Posada of course, has one top-5 finish and no wins.)