The SF Giants were without Buster Posey for the 2020 MLB season and clearly missed his presence. Assuming he’s back with the team in 2021, what can the team expect from the face of the franchise?
Prior to the 2020 MLB season, SF Giants catcher Buster Posey decided to opt-out to help keep his family safe. He and his wife, Kristen Posey, had recently adopted two newborn babies, and Posey was rightfully worried about putting them at risk of COVID-19.
Without one of their most well-known players, the Giants still surpassed expectations and missed only out on the expanded postseason by one game. There was plenty of woulda, coulda, shoulda’s throughout the year, but many fans feel that the 2020 season bodes well for future seasons. If Posey could have put them over the top this season, maybe he could be the difference in 2021.
At this point, it seems likely that Posey will be back starting behind the plate at Oracle Park. Without his stabilizing presence, the team had to rely heavily on unproven catchers Joey Bart, Tyler Heineman, and Chadwick Tromp. They all showed signs of being serviceable, but it was clear that the team missed Buster’s presence in the lineup and behind the dish.
However, it is fair to ponder whether a year off will negatively affect the 33-year-old Posey. Catchers rarely have resurgences in their mid-30’s, and Buster struggled through injuries in the seasons before 2020. Can we expect him to have a bounce-back year coming off of an entire year off?
SF Giants Buster Posey: Case for a Revival
If you can remember back all the way to early March, before the entire world shut down, Buster Posey was tearing it up in Spring Training. Before the normal Spring Training was suspended as COVID-19 became a part of everyday life in the United States, he had gone 9-for-20 with two doubles, a home run, and six RBI. The one home run he hit was mighty impressive, too.
Watching Buster last Spring Training, he just looked different. He was using his lower body much more than he had in previous years, allowing him to drive the ball from gap-to-gap. His hip appeared to be bothering him much less than it had in the previous years, which was really exciting because we had all missed Buster’s power. Just check out the highlight above; we have not seen too many opposite-field homers like that from Posey in recent years.
By sitting out in 2020, Posey was able to rest up and preserve his body. An optimist would say that if Buster is still healthy going into 2021, then he can recapture some of that same power that he displayed in 2021. Perhaps other veterans like Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford had career years because they finally got the chance to heal from injuries fully. Maybe that could be the case for Posey.
Obviously, it was a tiny sample in Spring Training, but it was still exciting to see a healthy Buster Posey. Assuming he will still be at full strength next year, I think we may see some longer flashes of his old self.
SF Giants Buster Posey: Case For A Decline
Obviously, this is the less desirable outcome but is one that could be a real possibility. We have to acknowledge that there is a chance that not seeing live, competitive pitching for a season could mean there will be some rust to knock off early in 2021.
On the flip side of the “he will be healthy” coin, there is also the possibility that it will take his body some time to adjust to playing every day again. Of course, Buster has been playing baseball all his life, but your body can begin to betray you in your mid 30’s and things that seemed easy ten years ago suddenly start to be more of a struggle.
Buster’s numbers steadily declined from 2017-2019. This was partly due to his battle with injuries, but perhaps it was just a sign of natural decline. I know we all hoped that Buster would forever be the baby-faced kid who led the team to a title in 2010, but age could simply be catching up with him.
Let us hope that the former scenario, rather than the latter, is the one that comes to fruition. We would all love to see a healthy Buster Posey come back in 2021 and show us that he’s still got plenty of gas left in the tank to help bring the SF Giants back to the World Series.