The San Francisco Giants expected Buster Posey to carry an unrealistic offensive load in 2017.
The San Francisco Giants came into the 2017 season with a starting lineup riddled with holes. Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt were expected to carry a significant portion of the offensive load.
The Giants were also relying on an injury plagued and aging Hunter Pence for run production, and above average defense in right field.
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The original plan was to platoon Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker in left field, both of whom had not proven they could hit consistently in the majors. For all intents and purposes, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Brandon Belt were being exclusively relied upon to carry the Giants offensively.
Brandon Crawford began the season painfully slowly and Brandon Belt was his usual streaky self. This meant that Posey was left to independently carry the offense. Still, Posey hit above 320 with on base percentage North of 400 for most of the season. His final slash line read .320/.400/.462/.862 according therefore, imagine my surprise when certain Giants fans and members of the media started to say that Buster was underachieving.
He plays one of the most difficult and demanding defensive positions on the field at an elite level and was in the race for a batting title until the very end of the season. If I look for players to blame for the Giants disturbing lack of success in 2017, Buster Posey would be last on the list.
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What the season demonstrated to me and hopefully to the Giants front office was the desperate need for protection behind and in front of Posey, Brandon Belt lacks the consistency as a hitter to protect Buster and maximize the Giants office of potential. Brandon Crawford, while a capable run producer, needs protection himself otherwise teams will pitch around Crawford in a similar strategy to that used against Buster.
Also, I think it is important to remember that Buster Posey’s value does not necessarily lie in the fact that he is an elite run producer in the mold of for example, Nolan Arenado. Rather, Buster is an elite all around catcher who happens to be a reliable complementary hitter particularly in the clutch.
It is time that we as Giants fans adjust our expectations for Buster Posey according to the player that he actually is. If Buster is asked to be a team’s lone middle of the order weapon, that team is likely to struggle because you would be miss-casting one of the best catchers and players of his generation. The Giants, what ever else they do this off-season, must find protection for Buster Posey either in the form of increased power or increased speed and dynamism at the top of the order.