The offseason has been a fairly quiet one for the San Francisco Giants. Farhan Zaidi, the Giants’ President of Baseball Operations did re-sign starting pitcher Kevin Gausman, who was the teams best starter last year. Zaidi has also made a few under the radar moves, acquiring free-agent starter Anthony DeScalfani, reliever Matt Wisler and utility infielder Jason Vosler. However, the most important addition to the 2021 San Francisco Giants roster thus far is the return of Buster Posey.
Buster Posey Returns After Missing 2020
Posey sat out the 2020 season, as he and his wife adopted twin baby girls, who were born prematurely. The infants spent several weeks in the NICU, and Posey opted to sit out the season due to potential health issues related to Covid-19. His decision, based on the fragile health of the two baby girls, was the right thing to do. Giants’ management was also in full support. Posey’s decision upset some fans, who wrongfully put a 60-game baseball season in front of the health concerns of Posey’s family. Nevertheless, it was the right choice for Posey and now we move forward to a new season.
The added benefit of sitting out last season was that Posey got to rest his body, which had endured 11 tough years behind the plate. The Giants will absolutely benefit from having a healthy and rejuvenated Posey behind the plate and in the lineup.
The Catcher Position Was a Negative Last Year
The Giants used four catchers in 2020 and none proved ready for the big stage on offense or defense. Chadwick Tromp and Tyler Heineman opened the season as the Giants catchers. Neither did enough to stake a strong claim to the starting job. Tromp did hit four home runs and collected ten RBI, but only hit for a .213 average in 61 at-bats. His OBP was poor at .219 and his OPS a subpar .645. Tromp had only one walk, compared to 20 strikeouts. The Giants signed Tromp for the 2021 season, so he will have a chance to backup Posey.
Heineman was even worse, as he had no home runs and only one RBI in 42 at-bats. His average was .190 and he had a slash line of .292/.214/.506. Heineman actually had more catchers interference calls against him with three, than he had RBI.
Joey Bart, was called up to the big club on August 20th, as the Giants were getting very little from their other catchers. It was good to get Bart some experience, but he also proved he has a long way to go both offensively and defensively. On defense, Bart often struggled to get on the same page with his pitchers. He will benefit from playing every day in the minors in 2021. Offensively, Bart had the most at-bats of any Giants catcher with 103. He had no home runs and only seven RBI, while hitting .233. His slash line was .288/.320/.609, well below the league averages at his position. Bart often struggled to make contact, striking out 41 times, with only three walks.
Rob Brantly, the only other catcher to play, got into only one game. He had three at-bats and no hits.
Collectively, the Giants catchers hit only .215, with four home runs and 18 RBI. Their batting average was .215 and their OPS was an abysmal .593. As a group, the catchers struck out a whopping 67 times in only 209 at-bats and had only eight walks.
Defensively, the Giants catchers also struggled to learn the pitching staff. They had trouble calling the game effectively, framing pitches and really gaining the trust and confidence of their pitching staff. A lot of these defensive liabilities can be attributed to a lack of experience. In addition to Posey, look for the Giants to acquire a veteran backup to compete with Tromp for the second catcher spot on the 2021 roster.
Posey Will Help on Both Offense and Defense
Buster Posey’s return will erase all of the deficiencies from the catching position in the upcoming season. Defensively, Posey is still one of the best in the game. He is a master at pitch selection, calling a game, knowing the opposing hitters tendencies and framing pitches. In addition, his experience will help the Giants pitchers with their confidence, something that was missing last year.
Although Posey will be 34 years of age when the season starts, he should be primed for a good year offensively. His legs will be fresh and his hip will be fully recovered from his 2018 surgery.
To expect an MVP caliber year from Posey is unrealistic, but he will be significantly better than what the Giants saw in 2020. If he can put together a season with an OPS at .800 or above, which he has done six previous times, that will be a huge boost to the Giants.
Posey’s home run and RBI totals will be dependent on how many games are in the MLB season. As the league still tries to navigate the continued threat of Covid-19, we could see a season with fewer than 162 games. Nevertheless, if Posey stays healthy, he should catch 70-80 percent of the games and a potential All-Star selection is not out of the question.
Posey Will Supply Excellent Leadership
Posey’s veteran leadership and clubhouse presence also cannot be downplayed. This is something the Giants sorely missed in 2020. Whether or not the Giants can contend for a playoff berth will depend on a myriad of factors. One thing the team will rely on is the leadership and production from Posey in 2021.
With his contract expiring after the 2021 season, this could also be the last year in a Giants uniform for Posey. Giants fans will be hoping for a big year from Posey and he should be ready to deliver.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images