Evaluating a small sample in baseball is generally an exercise in futility, but that is all we have to work with so far this season. After just a few games, SF Giants catcher Joey Bart looks like a much different and more dangerous hitter at the plate.
SF Giants catcher Joey Bart is off to a hot start
When Giants fans first saw Bart, he was rushed to the majors to help San Francisco get more offense from the catcher position. At that time, the former second overall pick had accumulated a total of 87 plate appearances above Single-A.
He was not ready and the results demonstrated that as he slashed .233/.288/.320 (68 OPS+) with zero home runs, 15 runs, and seven RBI in 111 plate appearances. This included a rough 36.9 percent strikeout rate against a 2.7 percent walk rate.
Bart struggled behind the dish as well. He has an above-average arm but it did not stop the running game and he had some communication issues with the pitching staff. These issues were not at all present as a minor leaguer, but it is fair to wonder if his troubles at the plate carried over on defense.
His performance from 2020 is in the rearview mirror now. After spending nearly an entire season in Triple-A last year, it looks like Bart has made some strides at the plate.
He came into camp with something to prove as he was taking over at catcher following Buster Posey's retirement in the offseason. It is unfair to compare anyone to Posey, but the comparisons will continue given that Bart succeeded Posey. They have different skill sets and it is important for Bart to be the player that best accentuates his own skill set.
To his credit, the right-handed bat immediately proved that he is ready for the opportunity as he recorded eight hits, including three home runs, with seven RBI in 22 at-bats during the Cactus League. Spring training can be misleading but Bart was playing with a chip on his shoulder and looked more comfortable at the plate.
He had momentum heading into the regular season and he has continued to build off of that. So far, he has registered three hits, including one homer, with two RBI in nine at-bats to go along with four walks against four strikeouts.
The at-bat quality has improved considerably since 2020. Bart has never been the most patient hitter but it looks like he has made an effort to stay within the strikezone. If he continues to show improved plate discipline, he would really bring a powerful bat with on-base skills that few catchers can replicate.
It is a very, very small sample. That said, it is an encouraging trend. Several Giants hitters have struggled to get the bat going this season, but Bart is certainly not one of them. They will need his bat in the lineup if they are going to compete in 2022.