The San Francisco Giants and Buster Posey seem to go over this every year with reporters and the fan base. The question is posed every year without fail: Will Buster Posey change positions this year? It’s not a bad question. Catchers historically change positions as they approach the end of their careers. But Posey is a historically great catcher who isn’t going anywhere.
Not only do the San Francisco Giants continue to say that Buster Posey is their catcher, but he also just received the Gold Glove after being named the best catcher in the National League. Not only did he win the award, but we looked at how he has clearly established himself as the best catcher in the Senior Circuit.
Very rarely do we see a catcher continue to catch every day year after year as they approach their mid to late 30’s. Yet, as Posey enters his age-29 season, we enter year six of fans asking when he will change positions.
Recently, FanSided looked at moving Posey to third base. It’s the most recent in a yearly suggestion of where to put Posey so that his bat is possibly more effective in the middle of the Giants lineup and he is at a safer position physically.
It’s understandable. The Giants have won three World Series rings, but Posey’s bat has been less impactful in October. When he has to start catching every game, his bat does become less dangerous. This rationale for a position change, however, undercuts two major points that fans and experts tend to forget.
- Buster Posey behind the plate is one of the main reasons the San Francisco Giants pitching staff is elite in September and October.
- Elite pitching in October makes it harder on all hitters, not just catchers.
The other factor that Giants fans seem to brush aside is that the team won three World Series championships with Buster Posey catching. What he means to the pitching staff, the locker room and the lineup cannot be measured simply by his batting average as a first baseman versus playing catcher. Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Will Clark, Matt Williams and Barry Bonds combined for zero World Series trophies in San Francisco. Posey has three.
Last off-season, I looked at whether or not Buster Posey was already an all-time great catcher. The short answer at the time was not yet. The fact that he was already in the conversation after less than six full seasons says everything about how truly special Posey is.
Regardless of his success, year after year, fans and reporters continually ask if this is the year Posey finally stops catching. In 2012, Bleacher Report looked at players who needed a position change and Posey was one of their choices. This was in the off-season after he was coming off a season ending injury that ended his 2011 season on May 25. The next day, the question was posed to manager Bruce Bochy.
In August of 2014, Bay Area Sports Guy looked at how Buster Posey’s position change could be delayed because of Hector Sanchez and his uncertain future. In 2015, Posey was asked if he had heard radio hosts talk of him changing positions.
Take the case of Johnny Cueto, the Giants free agent pitcher this past off-season. Cueto turned in a tremendous year for San Francisco, finishing sixth in the Cy Young voting, and much of his success can be attributed to the early bond he made with Buster Posey. Posey spoke in February about working with new pitchers.
"“As much as anything, just have them become comfortable with me, in the clubhouse as well,” Posey said of what he aims to do when pitchers first join the team. “Let them see I want to help them any way I can to be successful, because if they’re successful, there’s a good chance we’re going to win some ballgames.”"
Then in March, with regular season days away, Posey took a day off and worked with Cueto to make sure they were on the same page heading into the season.
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Buster Posey is a unicorn among horses. Rarely do we ever see an elite catcher who can win a gold glove and a silver slugger award. When a team is blessed with a unicorn, you don’t ask it to be a regular horse. What the Giants may gain in Posey at the plate they will lose putting anyone else behind the plate. The move would not make the Giants better overall. Even if Posey’s bat became more dangerous, the team’s defense would be hurt at two positions.
No matter how well Posey does at catcher in 2017 and beyond, fans will continue to ask and even insist he move to another place on the diamond. It is what fans do when it comes to their favorite players and their favorite team. They want to see Buster Posey get the most out of his potential. The Giants have already been blessed with more success than any franchise could possibly hope for. And I expect fans will continue to see their favorite player shine for years to come, calling games behind the plate, for the San Francisco Giants.
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