One of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing 2023 campaign for the SF Giants has been rookie catcher Patrick Bailey. Ever since he was called up in May, Bailey has made an impact on the Giants with both his bat and his glove.
Is Patrick Bailey really the catcher of the future for the SF Giants?
However, Bailey has struggled mightily at the plate as the season has progressed. His average now dwindles in the .230s. Additionally, we have seen him make more throwing errors as the season has gone on. This could lead some to question whether Bailey is truly the catcher of the future moving forward.
First, it is important to note that Bailey has been overworked this season. With the Giants offense looking so putrid so often, they have leaned heavily on Bailey to bail out their offense with his ability to frame pitches and throw runners out on the base paths. Therefore, it is no surprise that Bailey has had a drop-off in the second half of the year.
It should be no surprise that fatigue is kicking in. After all, the 24-year-old catcher has appeared in 123 games split between three levels this season. His previous career-high in games played as a pro was 83.
Yet, there are other troubling signs as well. Bailey's splits against righties and lefties at the plate have been concerning. As of September 25th, Bailey is hitting .207/.261/.309 versus righties and .316/.368/.510 against lefties. Clearly, he is a stronger hitter from the right side of the plate. Bailey will need to improve upon this chasm in his splits if the Giants are to truly take advantage of his status as a switch-hitter.
Of course, it is important to remind ourselves that Patrick Bailey is still just a rookie. He has played and carried himself like he is a ten-year veteran at times this season, but we must remember that he is still learning and evolving every day he plays. We were spoiled with the immediate impact Buster Posey had on the team, but Bailey is a different player who will develop and grow in his own way.
From what we have seen from Bailey this season, there is good reason to believe that he could be the catcher of the future. Barring injury, you can pretty confidently pencil him into the 2024 starting lineup behind the plate.
Yet, we have also seen warning signs that should cause us to pump the brakes at least a little bit on those Posey comparisons. Despite the drop-off, Bailey has had a tremendous rookie campaign and remains one of the most compelling players on the team. Plus, catcher is a position where teams often sacrifice offense for defense, and Bailey has, at times, looked like the best defensive catcher in baseball. Let us hope that we see more of Bailey at his highs from this year rather than his lows.