The SF Giants missed their star catcher Buster Posey in the shortened 2020 season, but in his absence, the organization’s top prospect, Joey Bart, was called up to do most of the catching. Do his struggles indicate that he still needs more time to develop in the minor leagues?
Let’s face it, Joey Bart was given a baptism by fire in 2020. The SF Giants threw him into the starting lineup a few weeks into the shortened season with Buster Posey opting out and Tyler Heineman and Chadwick Tromp struggling in everyday roles.
However, his struggles were more than a little concerning and raise questions about where he will start the 2021 season.
In 2020, Bart hit .233/.288/.320 with 7 RBI and 0 home runs. He came out of the gates hot, with his first three hits in the big leagues being doubles that were absolutely scorched:
But after that hot start, his bat was ice cold the rest of the way.
His performance behind the plate was mixed as well. While he showed that he has a very strong arm and threw out five baserunners trying to steal bases, there were times when it was clear he and the pitcher were not on the same page with signs, most notably with Johnny Cueto.
These are things that you learn as you get older and establish more trust with members of a pitching staff so they are not too concerning.
However, Bart’s hitting is more of a concern going forward. While Bart displayed gap-to-gap power in his rookie campaign, the fact that he had zero home runs is definitely a bit concerning given that he possesses so much raw power. Also, it seemed that pitchers quickly discovered he has a bit of a weakness covering the inside part of the plate.
Once pitchers figured that out, it seemed Bart started to guess a lot more, trying to predict when pitchers would go inside and subsequently leaving balls out over the plate middle away untouched, which is where he likes the ball.
While Bart’s rookie year was not the set-the-world-on-fire kind of year that we many had hoped for, he will undoubtedly have learned a ton from his first year in the big leagues.
And even if he starts 2021 in Sacramento, he will almost certainly be on the SF Giants roster at some point next season, and assuming Posey is playing and healthy, he will be able to learn firsthand from one of the premier catchers in the major leagues.