SF Giants: The Bart vs. Bailey Debate After The 2021 Season
Before the 2021 season started, I had Bart ranked ahead of Bailey in terms of Future Value or FV (I have Bart at 55 FV with Bailey at 45 FV) so it is pretty clear who has the advantage. After the season, I still have Bart at 55 FV while Bailey dropped to 40 FV. My big issue against Bailey is how he came to this season after receiving plenty of love and attention from the front office and the coaching staff by being in the alternate site just a month after he was drafted. The SF Giants deservedly placed Bailey to Eugene as a reward for the positive response in the alternate site. However, Bailey rewarded the Giants by scuffling on both sides of the ball looking nowhere near like the prospect that was expected to make a jump. While it was exciting to see him pop off San Jose at the end of the season, the expectation is that he would have been in Richmond at the end of the season, not in San Jose.
There was a clear preference in the middle of the season when Genoves was called up to Eugene and people thought that Bailey might be promoted to Richmond even though he's scuffled at that point but we knew that that was not the case. When Genoves got called up to Eugene, he was considered to be the most polished hitter in the San Jose lineup and certainly the readiest to make the jump (.338 average and .992 OPS in San Jose) so if ever Bailey got demoted, a Genoves-like performance was the likeliest outcome and we at the end of the season that it was indeed the case.
On the other hand, Bart clearly proved early this season that he has put the 2020 season well in the rear-view mirror with a scorching first half of the season. He's looked the same old Joey Bart that we knew and loved in the years past. The defense was there, leadership and pose were there, the pop was there. He's also shown that while he will pile up the strikeouts, he has shown that he can also be a hitter for average while also showing the improving ability to rack up the walks. The only thing that hurt Bart was literally him getting hurt on two separate occasions. It's never right to place the injury-prone label on Bart as all catchers are never fully healthy heading to the second half of the season. Yes, the strikeout issues are there. There will always be the issue regarding the inner-third of the plate as his swing works best when it gets long. In my opinion, he's shown improved discipline in the inner third but it will never be his strength and Bart knows it, in my opinion.
What is more important for a catcher, in my opinion, is his defense and his on-field intellect. Bart looked significantly better than Bailey in terms of the fundamentals this season, giving Bart a better shot at sticking in the position long-term. Bart has also shown better pop against pitchers with big-league experience than Bailey who only showed his pop against worse pitching in a better hitting environment. At this point, it should not be a question of who has the edge heading to the 2022 season. Bart projects to be the starting catcher of the San Francisco Giants after having a full season of AAA experience. Bailey projects to once again play in Eugene but there is a possibility that they will be aggressive once again and place him in Richmond. However, Bailey needs to show up in camp looking hungry as ever to be the best ballplayer that he can be and not show up looking sluggish once again. If he does show up sluggish, Giants fans should not turn a blind eye to it anymore.
Winner (so far): Joey Bart by a landslide