A list of 25 Principles of Adult Behavior

John Perry Barlow died this week. He lived quite a life. He was, among other things, a Silicon Valley visionary, poet, essayist, cattle rancher, cyberlibertarian political activist, and Grateful Dead lyricist.

About 40 years ago, Barlow drew up a list of what he called Principles of Adult Behavior. Make a nice cup of tea, run a hot bath, and read them with me:

1. Be patient. No matter what.
2. Don’t badmouth: Assign responsibility, not blame. Say nothing of another you wouldn’t say to him.
3. Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.
4. Expand your sense of the possible.
5. Don’t trouble yourself with matters you truly cannot change.
6. Expect no more of anyone than you can deliver yourself.
7. Tolerate ambiguity.
8. Laugh at yourself frequently.
9. Concern yourself with what is right rather than who is right.
10. Never forget that, no matter how certain, you might be wrong.
11. Give up blood sports.
12. Remember that your life belongs to others as well. Don’t risk it frivolously.
13. Never lie to anyone for any reason. (Lies of omission are sometimes exempt.)
14. Learn the needs of those around you and respect them.
15. Avoid the pursuit of happiness. Seek to define your mission and pursue that.
16. Reduce your use of the first personal pronoun.
17. Praise at least as often as you disparage.
18. Admit your errors freely and soon.
19. Become less suspicious of joy.
20. Understand humility.
21. Remember that love forgives everything.
22. Foster dignity.
23. Live memorably.
24. Love yourself.
25. Endure.

(thanks Jason)

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Managing work-life balance in your twenties

In college, many of my peers did internships – and eventually went on to secure jobs – at investment banks. Some would brag about the money they made, or the number of hours they worked, as if this was something to be proud of. I quickly realized that this wasn’t for me. I knew I’d go crazy if I had to work 100 hour weeks with little-to-no sleep. The money wasn’t worth it.

A story in The Guardian referenced a memo sent to new interns at Barclays:

When a new group of interns recently arrived at Barclays in New York, they discovered a memo in their inboxes. It was from their supervisor at the bank, and headed: “Welcome to the jungle.” The message continued: “I recommend bringing a pillow to the office. It makes sleeping under your desk a lot more comfortable … The internship really is a nine-week commitment at the desk … An intern asked our staffer for a weekend off for a family reunion – he was told he could go. He was also asked to hand in his BlackBerry and pack up his desk.”

The memo was meant as a joke, but I heard stories that weren’t that far off.* It was a powerful thing to know what I didn’t want and to look for companies that valued work-life balance and a basic sense of humanity.

*You may know about Moritz Erhardt, the 21-year-old London intern who died after working 72 hours in a row at Bank of America.

It’s just not healthy or productive to work long hours consistently.

Research from the Australian National University recently found that working anything over 39 hours a week is a risk to wellbeing.

Is there a healthy and acceptable level of work? According to US researcher Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, most modern employees are productive for about four hours a day: the rest is padding and huge amounts of worry. Pang argues that the workday could easily be scaled back without undermining standards of living or prosperity.

Other studies back up this observation. The Swedish government, for example, funded an experiment where retirement home nurses worked six-hour days and still received an eight-hour salary. The result? Less sick leave, less stress, and a jump in productivity.

But in today’s world, even if you’re only working 40 hours a week, it’s hard to fully disengage. You have email on your phone and access to internet anywhere. Sometimes you get texts from your boss or co-workers. Our smartphones make it difficult to separate work from play.

My friend Alex and I have talked a lot about this, because we’re both on the same page—we believe employers should do more to encourage a healthy work-life balance and repress a culture of working late and taking your work home with you. Alex also wrote about this at length in his book Too Much Meat on the Sandwich.

I also find I need meaningful distractions during the week so that I’m more productive, rested, and energized at work. Here are some of those things:

  • Run. In the warm months, I run a couple of nights a week after work. It is the ultimate distraction, because it’s hard to think about anything but the pain and agony that you’re going through. And then after a few miles, the endorphins kick in, and you go into a weird trance, and it all feels good.
  • Sleep. I still try to get eight hours of sleep every night.
  • Take a two week sabbatical. Every year since I graduated college, I have taken off the last two weeks of December (sometimes more!). In lieu of traveling, I become a hermit and take time to read, catch up on Netflix, watch old baseball highlights on YouTube, and just putz around with no responsibilities at all. It is sublime.
  • Write. I was doing pretty well at this up until a year ago. I’ve written like a million words on this thing.
  • Baseball. You may know that I enjoy baseball. It is wonderful to get so completely wrapped up in this world, to watch the Yankees on hot summer nights, to devour the news of the day, to spend hours combing through Baseball Reference, to read wonderful stories from Joe Posnanski and Jayson Stark and Tom Verducci and Ben Lindbergh and so many others. Baseball is an absolute delight.

It can be difficult to maintain this balance, particularly in your twenties when you are trying to make an impression and carve out a career for yourself. And late nights will inevitably happen at almost any job. But I think being mindful of what gets you recharged and refocused, and actively pursuing those things, will keep you happier, healthier, and an all-around sane person.

Why the Dow Jones is a flawed index

*yawn* Oh hello there! Welcome back. Did you miss me?

Sorry for the extensive delay (348 days), but after five years of vociferous posting, I needed to take some time off. But now I am back! And I am here to talk about everyone’s favorite topic – the stock market.

The stock market is of course the huge soup of publicly traded securities that investors (and algorithms) buy and sell everyday. And to determine how the market is doing, we rely on indexes. The three most popular are the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500, and the NASDAQ. The Dow tends to be the default index we use in everyday conversation. It is the oldest and the most famous, and it crosses over big, round numbers more often than the other indexes. Last week, the Dow passed 25,000*, which elicited a tweet from our Dear Leader:

Investing legend Art Cashin even gets a new hat every time the Dow crosses 1,000.

DStOYebX0AI4Gmi

*By the way, in 2014, I made some predictions of things that will happen in my life. One of them is that the Dow will reach 100,000, which is absolutely going to happen (a conservative 3% per year for 50 years will get us there). And one of my predictions has already come true – the Cubs won the World Series!

Hey, there is reason to be excited. The Dow was as low as 6,443 in March of 2009, which means the index has roared almost 300% in the last nine years (not including dividends). This is good news for the 52% of Americans who own stocks.

But there are two flaws with the Dow Jones.

NUMBER ONE, the Index does not capture the performance of the broad market. It only captures the performance of 30 stocks which are arbitrarily selected, can change year-to-year, and exclude some of the largest companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook.

NUMBER TWO, the Index is price-weighted. The problem here is that share price has nothing to do with how big a company is. So the companies with the highest share price (regardless of size) have more influence on the index. A company like Boeing ($318/share) has seven times the influence as Coca Cola ($46/share) and almost twice as much as Apple ($174/share). This isn’t right.

In the world of most investment professionals, the index du jour is the S&P 500. It tracks a broader group of stocks (505 to be exact), is weighted by market cap (so the largest companies have more influence), and measures most of the stock market’s value.

OK, we good? You realize the Dow has some serious flaws? Good. Thank you.

Now for some caveats.

NUMBER ONE, the Dow Jones has a rich history. It is the oldest index (started in the 1890s), it’s quoted everywhere, and it’s familiar. ‘The market’ and ‘The Dow’ have become synonymous with each other. It’s what we use in conversation. I wouldn’t want it to go away.

NUMBER TWO, the Dow Jones closely tracks to the S&P 500 over time, so perhaps I am wasting your time with pedantry where none is necessary (thanks Josh):

dow

To me, the Dow is like the pitcher win in baseball. Historically, the win was the common benchmark for things like Cy Young and Hall of Fame voting.

But over time, other stats emerged (WHIP, ERA+, FIP, WAR), and now we know that there are better ways to measure performance. But, like the Dow, I don’t want the win to go away. Even if it means nothing, there is something comforting about seeing a pitcher get to 15 or 20 wins.

And, admittedly, there is some comfort in seeing the Dow cross 25,000.

taking a break

I started this website in 2011, back when I was a junior in college. Over the last five years, I’ve written about baseball, history, politics, music, science, and other random stuff that’s popped into my brain-thing. I’ve interviewed the voice of Siri and the founder of craigslist and my hero Aaron Small. Over 300 posts, half a million words typed, and now, well, here we are.

No one reads this, and that’s fine. That’s never been my motivation for writing this thing. But over the last few months, I haven’t had the usual desire to post here. I’m not sure why that is. But it is. So, I’ve decided that I’m going to take a bit of a break from posting here. I have no idea how long that will last. It may only be a week. Or a month. Or six months. Probably not forever. But for a little while.

If you’re reading this, then I thank you very much for giving ol’ jfleishman.com a spot in your internet rotation. If you’re not reading this, then, um, uhhhhh, I don’t have anything to say to you.

I’ll be back at some point. I’ll leave the lights on.

For now, I leave you with the definition of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle:

In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is any of a variety of mathematical inequalities asserting a fundamental limit to the precision with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, known as complementary variables, such as position x and momentum p, can be known.

 

 

Why are you still here? Go on! Get!

My 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

Barry Bonds. Here’s a thought from Joe Posnanski that I agree with: I don’t think the Hall of Fame should be a morally cleansed place where only the pure belong. I think the best baseball players should be in, plain and simple, and their stories — complete with their genius for the game and their moral failings — should be told. I think that’s the way history should be taught.

You can’t argue that Bonds wasn’t one of the greatest hitters ever – I think only Babe Ruth and Ted Williams were better. And, I would argue that Bonds had a Hall of Fame career before he started taking steroids. After 1998, Bonds was a career .290/.411/.556 hitter with 411 home runs, 445 stolen bases, and a 164 OPS+. Of course, Bonds then went on to destroy the record books and make a farce of the game – but even if you take out those years, Bonds should be in.

But the numbers alone are not enough for many voters. Bonds was arrogant, a jerk, just a terrible person in general. He is the antithesis of the Hall of Fame’s character clause. But it’s clear that after five years on the ballot, more and more writers are coming around to him.

2013: 36%
2014: 35%
2015: 37%
2016: 44%

And on this year’s version of the indispensable Baseball Hall of Fame tracker, he’s up to a whopping 69%.

Roger Clemens. If you divide all of Roger Clemens’ career numbers by two, he might still be a Hall of Famer: 177-92, 2458 innings, 3.12 ERA, 2336 strikeouts, 70 Wins Above Replacement, 3.5 Cy Youngs.

By WAR, Clemens’ 1997 (11.9) was the best season in the last 25 years, when he struck out a career-high 292 in 264 innings and had a 222 ERA+. Of course, Clemens had other legendary seasons:

1986: 24-4, 2.48 ERA, 8.9 WAR
1987: 20-9, 2.97 ERA, 9.4 WAR
1990: 21-6, 1.93 ERA, 10.6 WAR
1991: 18-10, 2.62 ERA, 7.9 WAR
1992: 18-11, 2.41 ERA, 8.8 WAR
1998: 20-6, 2.65 ERA, 8.1 WAR

Baseball-Reference considers a WAR over 5 to be at an all star level, and anything over 8 to be MVP level. Clemens had fourteen seasons with a WAR over 5 and six that were over 8.

A lot of younger fans will remember Clemens’ 2001 season, when he went 20-3 and won the Cy Young with the Yankees. It was a great season, yes, but that was when I first realized that wins don’t do a good job of measuring value. Mike Mussina should have won the Cy Young that year (really, you could make the case for a handful of other guys too). Moose pitched more innings, gave up fewer runs, walked fewer, struck out more, and had a much lower WHIP. But he went 17-11, which isn’t quite as sparkly as 20-3. Interestingly, Clemens had the reverse problem in 2005, when he had a 1.87 ERA but only went 13-8.*

*I remember that the Texas Rangers really wanted Clemens after 2005 and did this whole study where they determined that Clemens would have been 24-3 if he pitched for the Rangers that year. He would have undoubtedly run away with his 8th Cy Young.

Manny Ramirez. Right now, Manny is polling at around 28%, which is well below the 75% threshold and certainly due to his two failed steroid tests. Clemens and Bonds, for all of their faults, never failed a test.

My stance on steroids/PED’s is pretty subjective. I think most voters prefer to take a more black-and-white approach with failed tests and alleged violations, but here’s what I think: if  someone is a transcendent talent, and (in my judgment) a no doubt, slam-dunk candidate, then I vote for them. So I put in Clemens, Bonds, and Manny. I leave out Sosa, McGwire, and Palmeiro.

Manny was, maybe, the best pure right-handed hitter of all time. He finished his career with a .312 batting average and .585 slugging percentage – only Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Jimmie Foxx, and Hank Greenberg have done that.

Jeff BagwellHere’s a thought: Jeff Bagwell is the best first baseman in the history of the National League.

There is an argument to be made. By WAR, he trails only Albert Pujols in the modern era (and if you include the American League, he trails only Pujols, Lou Gehrig, and Jimmie Foxx).

Bagwell dominated the league for the better part of a decade – from 1993 to 2002 he hit .306/.422/.574, a 158 OPS+ and averaged 35 home runs, 113 runs, 114 RBI’s, and 104 walks. He had a ridiculous 1994 season where he hit .368/.451/.750 and had 39 home runs in just 110 games. Bagwell is one of just six players to have a season with a .450 OBP and .750 SLG, along with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Barry Bonds, Rogers Hornsby, and Mark McGwire.

While Bagwell has fallen short in prior years, he’s polling over 90% and should easily get in this year. This is great news! His support has skyrocketed in recent years:

2014: 54%
2015: 56%
2016: 72%
2017 (preliminary): 92%

Tim Raines. Raines is perpetually underrated. By WAR, he was the best player in the National League from 1983 to 1987. I would also argue that he was the best base stealer in baseball history – or at the very least, the most efficient.

Raines: 808 stolen bases, 146 caught stealing, 84.7% success rate
Rickey Henderson: 1406 stolen bases, 335 caught stealing, 80.8% success rate
Lou Brock: 938 stolen bases, 307 caught stealing, 75.3% success rate

There have been other efficient base stealers in history – Vince Coleman, Ichiro Suzuki, Carlos Beltran. But of those that have stolen 400+ bases, Raines has far and away the best success rate.

If you couple his base running with a career .385 on base percentage, 123 OPS+, and 69.1 WAR, then I think Raines has a clear case for the Hall of Fame. Yes, he never won an MVP and never hit more than 20 home runs. He was never viewed as the best player in the league. But, consider this: he finished with the same career WAR as Manny Ramirez even though he had almost 400 fewer home runs. He reached base more times than Tony Gwynn.

Like Bagwell, support for Raines has skyrocketed in recent years. He’s currently polling at 92% and should get in.

Ivan Rodriguez. Pudge is on the Mt. Rushmore of catchers. 14-time All Star, 13 Gold Gloves, an MVP, a .296 career batting average. Only Bench and Carter finished with a higher WAR as a catcher. Despite alleged steroid use, he’s polling at 84% and should get in on his first ballot.

Vladimir Guerrero. Man, I love Vlad. Let’s just take a moment to watch this.

One of the best bad-ball hitters of all time. He finished his career with a .318 average, 449 home runs, and a 140 OPS+. You finish your career with a 140 OPS+ and you’re getting my vote.

Edgar Martinez. Finished his career with a .312 average, a .418 OBP, and a .515 SLG. Even though he played in a massive offensive environment, his OPS+ was 147, higher than:

Harmon Killebrew
Mike Piazza
Alex Rodriguez
Chipper Jones
David Ortiz
George Brett
Al Kaline
Tony Gwynn

…and many others.

Trevor Hoffman. I go back-and-forth on this one. Whatever you think of the save, I think Hoffman was one of the best relief pitchers of all time. He wasn’t as dominant as Billy Wagner, but he was more consistent and had a longer career. For what it’s worth, I think Wagner should be in too, but I don’t have enough room for him on my ballot.

Mike Mussina. Every pitcher (except Roger Clemens) with 100 more wins than losses is in the Hall of Fame. Mussina finished 270-153. And, sure, wins and losses are not a great way to evaluate pitching, but I do think they tell a story over 20 years.

Look, if Mussina finished his career with 300 wins, then he sails into the Hall of Fame. And, if he sticks around for a bit longer, he probably gets to 300. He retired in 2008 when he was 39 years old, but he was coming off a remarkable season where he won 20 games. If he sticks around for three more years, and puts up three mediocre seasons, then he gets to 300. And I don’t think three mediocre seasons should be the difference between the Hall of Fame and borderline.

Mussina finished his career with an 82.7 WAR.That ranks 24th in history, and that includes about a dozen pitchers from the deadball and early 20th century who threw 400 innings a year and died of dysentery. Of the 23 pitchers ahead of him, 22 are in the Hall of Fame. The only one missing is Clemens.

In which jfleishman gives a year-end address to his nonexistent investment clients

Good evening, thank you, thank you, please, hold your applause. We here at Fleishman Wealth Management are delighted to report that 2016 was another excellent year for our clients, particularly because we continued with our decades-long philosophy of doing nothing and throwing up our arms and saying ‘lol, idk’ to explain every move in the stock market.

You may remember January, when the S&P 500 lost 10.5% in the first 28 trading days of the year. It was the worst start to a year for US stocks ever. Ever! And many of our competitors saw that as a sign that things were bad and it was time to pull out of the markets. Our friends at RBS said to sell everything. Time to liquidate your 401(k), folks!

And there were lots of good reasons to believe them: falling oil, volatility in China, shrinking world trade, rising debt, weak corporate loans, and deflation. Heck, this was before Brexit or President Trump entered the scene.

But at Fleishman Wealth Management, we did not panic. We did not sell a single share of stock. We actually bought more!

Here is what happened next.

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Over at The Reformed Broker, Josh Brown explains:

It’s important to note that this happened in the absence of quantitative easing by the Fed and with the pace of US stock buybacks down substantially from the prior year. This also happened in the context of an “earnings recession” and with all of the uncertainty of the most rancorous election of our lifetime, slowing Chinese economic data, Brexit, a spike in European nationalism and all of the other horrible sh*t you could toss into the cauldron.

The stock market will not go up every year. And we will have future downturns and recessions and plenty of other bad things that we can’t see coming. But who’s to say when that will happen and how that will affect the market. A lot of bad stuff happened this year, frikkin’ Donald Trump is President, and the market is up 20% from its January lows. Um, ok.

We don’t try to explain the unexplainable at Fleishman Wealth Management. Many of you are frustrated by this. We just diligently save and invest your money, in a broad range of stocks, at every downturn, and at every upturn. And, I would say we’ve done quite well. You wanted to pull out in 2000. You wanted to pull out in 2008. And believe me, we understand that it’s not fun to watch your accounts get cut in half. This game is not easy. But ultimately, you’ve stuck with us. And I don’t want to brag, but you’re all better for it.

Patience in this game is a good thing. Warren Buffett once said, the stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient. We don’t accept impatient clients in our firm. We don’t accept day-traders or speculators or people who yell loudly. We’re quiet and boring, and we like it that way.

Here’s the thing, folks. You have to invest. You have to do something with your cash to beat the rate of inflation over time. Jack Bogle once said that the only way to guarantee you will have nothing at retirement is to invest nothing along the way.

And yes, investing is hard. Loss aversion is a powerful force. There will always be risks in the market. But the alternative for stepping out into the unknown is the known of never building your wealth.

You have to take your chances. Thanks for taking them with us.

Jorge Posada for the Hall

OK, so let’s start with this. I have a lot of fond memories of Jorge Posada. He was the most vocal of the ‘Core Four’, regularly yelling at his pitchers or getting ejected or starting brawls. He batted from both sides of the plate, never wore batting gloves, and peed on his hands to make them tougher. He was great.

Like Jeter and Rivera and Bernie and Pettitte, I grew up with Jorge. I chanted ‘Hip Hip Jorge!’ at Yankee games from the time I was eight until I was in college. He was on my bedroom posters. I walked around imitating his batting stance.

I asked some friends to tell me their favorite memory of Jorge Posada, and this is what they said:

Jon R: Favorite memory of Jorge is the bloop hit game 7 2003 ALCS. 

Adam: As a non Yankee fan, the thing I remember is the Sportscenter commercial.

Cooper: Best memory: some random game one summer when we were younger. Yanks down like 7 runs going into the 9th and we come back and win it with a walk off. Some new guy to the team is interviewed after the game and says Jorge gave them the pep talk going into the ninth that was essentially “we’re the Yankees, this is what we do!” And they f@&king did it. When I think of Jorge, there’s a lot of good, but that’s the first thing I think of every time.

Aaron SmallJorge was a great guy and teammate. Loved working with him as a pitcher/catcher relationship. We meshed well together. Smart catcher with a great knowledge of the game and of American League hitters. Enjoyed my two years with him. Great family man as well. Blessed to say that I had the chance to play with him.

Grace: Not sure I have a favorite memory.

Jon S: Walkoff against Texas.

Ben: Bloop vs. Pedro, especially after what happened earlier in the series.

David: He caught David Wells’ perfect game against the Twins, and he also hit the last ever home run in the Metrodome. And I loved how he never wore batting gloves. I really respected that. Even if he did pee on his hands.

Drew: I have an off the field one. There was a video they used to play on TV during rain delays where they would ask the players weird questions and I remember one with Jorge. He said he learned to move his ears because he was driving home and his glasses were falling off his face and he didn’t want to take his hands off the wheel, so he just willed his ear muscles to pull his glasses back up.

My favorite memory came on May 25th, 2011. I’ve talked about this game before. The Yankees were trailing the Blue Jays 4-3 in the ninth. Down to their last out, Curtis Granderson hit a single to tie the game. The next batter, Mark Teixeira, hit a single to win it. It was a wonderful night at the ol’ ballpark, and I was there, fresh off a hellish finals week to end my sophomore year of college.

The loudest roar of the night wasn’t the Granderson single. It wasn’t the Teixeira walk-off. No, the loudest roar of the night came when Jorge Posada stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth inning. He didn’t start the game, so he was pinch-hitting for someone, I can’t remember who, because it didn’t matter. And in a collective roar, the 50,000 fans at the ballpark hoped for one more magical moment in what would be his final season.

This was just a few days after he had pulled himself out of the lineup when he learned he was hitting ninth. Well, Jorge was never one to hide his thoughts. This was unacceptable to him. He sort of threw a tantrum in the clubhouse*, even though he was hitting just .176 that season, and that’s when we knew this was probably the end.

*Cooper: ‘Worst memory is how he was kind of a dick his last season with Joe G moving him down in the lineup.’

But the fans were on his side. Posada stepped into the batter’s box, double tapped his bat to home plate, and the crowd noise did not stop, and he ripped a 94 mph Frank Francisco fastball into the right-center gap for a double. Then he came out of the game for a pinch-runner, which eventually scored as the tying run.

I’ll always remember that sequence because it was probably louder when Posada WALKED TO THE PLATE than when he actually hit the double.

So, yes, I have good memories of Jorge, and I’m very clearly biased when I say that I think he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

I say this because this is the first year he is eligible, and we’re a month away from the vote. Unfortunately, there is about a .00001% chance he makes it, about the same odds that I make it. It’s just not going to happen, certainly not in his first year of eligibility. I’d be surprised if he gets more than 5% of the vote.

I also asked my friends if they think he belongs in the Hall:

Jon R: No, I don’t think he’s a Hall of Famer, but he deserves votes and consideration.

Cooper: I guess I’d have to look at the the numbers, but gut reaction is no.

Jon S: Yes for hall.

Grace: Yes he should be.

Ben: Strong no to hall.

David: I don’t believe he should be in the HoF. He was a very good and durable catcher for a long period of time, but I’m a small Hall kind of guy. In my opinion, he was never great. Yankees HoF for sure, but not baseball HoF.

I’m outnumbered, but dammit, I think he’s a Hall of Famer. And I think the math agrees with me.

As you probably know, it’s really difficult for a catcher to make the Hall of Fame. Only 17 have made it, but many of them are from a bygone era:

Pre-1920:

Roger Bresnahan
Buck Ewing

1921-1950:

Mickey Cochrane
Bill Dickey
Rick Ferrell
Gabby Hartnett
Ernie Lombardi
Ray Schalk

Negro Leagues:

Josh Gibson
Biz Mackey
Louis Santop

1950-present:

Johnny Bench
Yogi Berra
Roy Campanella
Gary Carter
Carlton Fisk
Mike Piazza

So, only six catchers have made the Hall of Fame in the last 66 years. Again, it’s a tough bar to clear.

For the sake of comparison, let’s look at Posada’s numbers against those six guys, ranked by OPS+:

Mike Piazza: .308/.377/.545, 142 OPS+, 427 HR, 59.4 WAR
Johnny Bench: .267/.342/.476, 126 OPS+, 389 HR, 75.0 WAR
Yogi Berra: .285/.348/.482, 125 OPS+, 358 HR, 59.5 WAR
Roy Campanella: .276/.360/.500, 123 OPS+, 242, 34.2 WAR
Jorge Posada: .273/.374/.474, 121 OPS+, 275 HR, 42.7 WAR
Carlton Fisk: .269/.341/.457, 117 OPS+, 376 HR, 68.3 WAR
Gary Carter: .262/.335/.439, 115 OPS+, 324 HR, 69.9 WAR

Posada’s offensive numbers fit in quite comfortably with his peer group. And I think they also show one of Posada’s most underrated assets – his ability to walk*. His .374 career on-base percentage is second only to Piazza. He had four seasons with an OBP greater than .400. The other six guys had four seasons, COMBINED.

*I went to a game in 2004 where the Yankees won on a walk-off walk by Posada.

Posada became the Yankees’ full-time catcher in 2000, and for the next eleven years, he had an OPS above the league average, every single year, with only one extended stint on the DL in 2008. He made five All Star teams, won five Silver Sluggers, hit 20+ home runs eight times, and, of course, played in 125 additional playoff games and won five World Series.

But with catchers, you also have to factor in defense. The widely accepted notion is that Posada’s defense was not very good. And as a fan who watched literally hundreds, probably thousands, of games with Jorge Posada behind the plate, I would agree with that.

But I don’t think it was as bad as everyone thinks. Measuring catcher defense is more art than science, but I think the numbers are pretty close to reality. The all-time leaders in defensive WAR for catchers are Ivan Rodriguez (+28.7), Gary Carter (+25.5), Bob Boone (+25.3), and Jim Sundberg (+25.0). To me, that matches the eyeball test. Yadier Molina and Russell Martin lead active players.

Jorge Posada finished his career with a defensive WAR of +2.1, which, yeah, doesn’t put him in the upper echelon of defensive catchers, but it isn’t terrible either. It’s actually higher than Mike Piazza. And it was much higher in the early part of his career. His last few years were awful.

What I’m getting at is that I don’t think Posada’s defense was as bad as everyone thinks. And his offensive numbers were really good, better than some of his peers. He wasn’t as good as Bench, or Berra, but no one is.

I think we’ve set a standard that is too high for catchers. I say we add a few more to the Hall. Add Posada, add Ivan Rodriguez, and down the road, add Joe Mauer and Buster Posey and Yadier Molina.

Now let’s watch some of my favorite Jorge videos.