In which we projected modest things for our hero, and we were punished by the best season of our lifetime.
This is the start of a yearly look back at the predictions we made before the season. If you didn't make a prediction, it's either because you weren't around that day, or you're a spineless toad who's scared of criticism and self-reflection. I'm guessing the latter.
Usually I do these things by alphabetical order, but I woke up in my Buster Posey footies, poured some coffee into my Buster Posey coffee mug, and brushed my teeth with a toothbrush I fashioned out of a bat shard and a lock of Buster Posey's hair, and I thought, "Say, this Buster Posey chap is sure on my mind today." So we'll start there.
Having it: He will most certainly not
And the actual stats:
Having it: He did not
When I made my projection, I couched it with all sorts of "I know this is optimistic"s and "Maybe this is too much too soon"s. Hee hee. Buster Posey cares not for your doubting cynicism, you fool. I don't think a .336 average is something that will ever be smart to predict, so the idea that he'll hit for a high average with an OBP that was about 70 points apart was a sound one. I'll predict the same thing before next season. He'll hit for a high average because he can do this with some regularity.
But it's the power that threw me for a loop. And if you had told me that AT&T Park would have played like a once-in-a-generation pitchers' park -- with the Giants hitting 31 home runs there in 81 games -- I probably would have dialed back even those modest predictions. I would have pegged Posey for fewer than 10 homers and maybe something similar to Brandon Belt's 2012, but with 30 more points of average. Because don't forget what Posey looked like the last time we saw him:
He was prime-years Luis Castillo without the speed. Now I think we were dealing with … wait for it … a small sample size. But Posey's power outage seemed natural because, well, look at the guy. He's listed at 6'1", 220, but that seems a touch inflated. Whatever the actual measurements, he's on the average side of the general baseball population, and that's still being a little generous. It doesn't look like he should make that sound so often, in which that sound is used to explain a home-run sound on a swing and a trajectory that doesn't usually make you think home run. Posey makes you think, "That had the sound, but that sure didn't look like … well, I'll be. 425 feet" like no other player I've ever watched.
I'm not sure if I made a GIF of this supposed power … let me rummage around a bit and … wait, wait … yeah, I found one:
Well, that's more of an example of Posey destroying a pitch than a sneaky-long homer, but I wanted to watch that over and over, and I'm pretty sure you did too. From the side!
Tom Emanski has a GIF of that swing in a password-protected folder so his wife doesn't find it. So purty. A better example of the sneaky-long dinger if you're curious would probably be his homer off Darren O'Day in Game 4 of the 2010 World Series. It just kept going, and it was never really close to being caught.
So now we know: Posey's power is legitimate and mesmerizing. And he's still just 25. He was born in the same year as guys like Ike Davis, Logan Morrison, and Yonder Alonso -- guys we're still not sure about. They could be really good, but they're still enigmas right now. Which is to say Posey could get better. He could turn into a 30-homer guy instead of a 25-homer guy.
The big question after Posey's injury: Will he be the same? Will he be the same? Will he be the same? The answer: Nope. We would have been so crestfallen if we knew that answer ahead of time. We would have slumped our shoulders and Charlie Brown-walked all the way back from Delphi. But the answer was no because he was even better. Next year, we predict the Triple Crown, and we'll throw in a stolen-base title for good measure. I'm done underestimating Buster Posey, a Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Silver Slugger, two-time World Series champion, and National League MVP.
It's probably smarter to take the over next time.