Buster Posey

San Francisco Giants: Step outside the box and put Buster Posey at third

By Mark ONeill
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By definition thinking outside the box requires imagination, a willingness to take risks, and a strong conviction that in order to succeed, an organization must stay not just one step ahead of the competition, but a full ninety feet. With this thought in mind, the time has come for San Francisco Giants GM, Brian Sabean, to place a charge of plastic explosives on the inside of the current box, in which the Giants find themselves, and blow the doors off.

What would this look like? It would mean that in trying to right the listing ship, after the disappointing defection of Pablo Sandoval, one of San Francisco’s most weightiest players, in terms of being beloved, Brian Sabean must now fill not only slots in left field and the rotation, but at the hot corner as well. There has been much speculation that Jon Lester has become the object of Sabean’s interest, which would be so far outside the proverbial box, it would take radar to track it down.

While doing so, however, Sabean should give serious consideration to continuing his stratospheric thinking by making the shift that has been on many fans’ minds for quite some time, and moving Buster Posey to third base. There is a plethora of reasons why this move makes perfect sense, but here are five with which to begin.

First, as is inevitable, Posey is significantly more effective of a hitter as a first baseman, than as a catcher. Playing third base or playing first base-either is infinitely easier than squatting behind the plate. He has played 19.5% of his games as a first baseman, so that represents a sizable representation, for comparison purposes.

In 113 games playing first, Posey hit .354, as opposed to his .301 batting average as a catcher, in 465 games.  His on-base percentage as a first baseman is .411 (!) as opposed to .367 as a catcher, and his slugging percentage (number of total bases divided by number of at-bats) as a first baseman was .555, as opposed to .478 as a backstop. 

Predictability makes for complacency; stepping outside conventional logic, allows a team to soar.

That the numbers are skewed is expected; that they should be so extreme makes the argument that much more potent.

Secondly, the switch lends itself to prolonging the career of the Giants’ franchise player. Whereas Posey is everything in a catcher the Giants could ask for, he would be more than adequate at third base, except that he would be around for a lot longer period of time.

Brandon Belt has a lock on first base. Credit: ©Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

Next, whereas Posey’s most logical shift might be to first base, the Giants are well-equipped there, with Brandon Belt and his gold-glove caliber defense, already patrolling the right side of the infield, reminding many fans of J.T. Snow, the way he goes after foul popups. Belt’s six-foot, five-inch frame is better suited for first, leaving Posey a more natural fit at third.

Fourth, the Giants could only contemplate this kind of move, if they had a ready replacement, such as that of Andrew Susac. What stands out about Susac, is that he spent only parts of one season at single and double-A ball, and one season at Fresno. The significance of Susac’s speed-rise through the organization, especially at the position of catcher, is that a player only takes the accelerated route, if he has earned it.

In his brief major league career, in 88 at-bats, Susac batted .273, with a .326 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .466. Again, though it is a small sampling, anyone who watched Susac compete in the midst of a pennant race, would suggest that he is a special commodity, which is why the switch to third base for Posey is possible in the first place.

Finally, with Posey at third and Susac at catcher, Bruce Bochy would have the option to weave Posey into the occasional platoon with Joaquin Arias at third, while Buster could replace Susac at catcher, in order to give the rookie regular rest, or even once the Giants again reach the playoffs. It would seem to present for the Giants, the best of all worlds.

For Sabean to follow conventional baseball wisdom, and leave Posey at catcher, would be the safe and sane way to repair the rip in the fabric of the Giants organization, with the defection of Sandoval. Which is exactly the reason why the Giants’ GM should don his top hat and cloak and step out on stage for his magician’s act.

In order to make magic, a magician has to be able to keep the audience guessing, by pulling creating miracles, such as pulling a rabbit out of his hat.

In this case, pulling a third baseman out of his hat beats the heck out of a rabbit, and whereas Posey will never make anyone think of a rabbit, he just might pull off a reasonable facsimile of a third baseman.

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