The Creepy Alternate Reality of Buster Posey and the Rays

Oh, man. Rockies. My brain just shut off. All I can think of for a series preview is something aping this scene from Casablanca:

What Rockies series?

Ten Rockies series.

Such much Rockies?

Such much Rockies. Such much.

Instead, I have Posey on the mind. Buster Posey, who is good at baseballing. I wrote an article about the stupid stories we'd be reading if the season started after the All-Star Break -- Lincecum needs to be extended! Cain is struggling! -- and the most common complaint about the story was that I ignored Posey's second half. A reminder of what that second half looks like:

Split G AB 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
2nd Half 24 92 7 8 30 13 15 .446 .509 .783 1.292


That'll do, Buster. That'll do.

He turned his season from "Yeah, he's a deserving All-Star, and he's going to start, not because he's the catcher America deserves, but because he's the catcher America needs" into "Holy sweet crap, Buster" with the way he's started the second-half. Andrew McCutchen would have to really, really slow down to not win the MVP at this point, but without him, Posey would be on one of the favorites for the award.

An aside: Posey against left-handed pitchers this season is hitting .410/.453/.771. As you were.

So Posey is the best, we can all agree; a river of light, flows from he. But I started thinking dark thoughts after reading this 2008 mock draft this morning:

1. Tampa Bay Rays: Buster Posey, C, Florida State
It appears the Rays have narrowed it to five names for the top pick (there's no David Price this year): Posey, the FSU backstop who's had a tremendous year with the bat to move himself into consideration; Georgia high school shortstop Tim Beckham, who's got tools galore and can stay at short; Pedro Alvarez, the Vanderbilt third baseman who's among the most polished hitters in the Draft; Brian Matusz, the lefty ace for the University of San Diego; and Southern California high school catcher Kyle Skipworth.

The Rays weren't deep at catcher at the time, and Posey was a home-state hero. It seemed natural. Like the Mariners and Tim Lincecum before him, Posey seemed like the perfect fit for that organization.

What would the Giants be like right now if the Rays drafted Posey?

That isn't just for yuks. It's an honest question. I don't know the Giants' draft board after Posey, but I assume Tim Beckham would have been gone before the Giants had a chance at dem tools. I'll also guess the Pirates were locked on Alvarez. I'd wager the Giants would have gone with Justin Smoak, Kyle Skipworth, or Brian Matusz.

Smoak has been awful, and there's a negligible chance that the Giants were the right organization to prevent that. Skipworth has been even worse -- he's now 22, with a career .218/.282/.373 line. Matusz looked exceptionally promising at one point, and now he looks broken. There's a chance the Giants could have fixed him, or at least prevented the break. Maybe we'd be in the middle of a Caincecumgarnertusz revolution.

Who would be playing catcher now? Bengie Molina isn't a bad guess, really. Maybe the Giants would have started the Hector Sanchez Era even earlier … but they really love their sure things at catcher, their proven pitcher-whisperers. There'd be a guy like John Buck on the team. We would have had debates and opinions about John Buck. Huh.

Without Posey already in the middle of the order, the Giants would have felt compelled to get a middle-of-the-order hitter before 2011. Jayson Werth? Adrian Beltre? I'll get a little goofy and suggest they would have made a run at Victor Martinez. Either him or Brad Hawpe. If you think there was an urgency to get a hitter over the last two offseasons, imagine if there were no Posey.

The World Series is obviously fiction in this alternate reality. The success this season would be a diluted kind, as the Giants would be in second or third place. The future wouldn't look nearly as bright. Ashes. Crop failures. Pestilence. Your favorite television shows, all canceled.

You know all of this, how the butterfly effect of the draft writes baseball history without you realizing it at the time. But I just wanted to explore the idea of a Buster-less universe for a while. Because you know that Andrew Friedman and the smartypantses over in Tampa liked Posey. There was almost certainly deliberation and debate with whom the Rays should take. There was surely someone in that front office who preferred Posey, even if only slightly. What if he or she were just a little more persuasive?

Well, I get paid by the rhetorical question, so my work here is almost done. And you can do this with just about every good player on the Giants -- what if Cain, what if Bumgarner, what if Pablo, etc ... -- but there's something about the Rays passing on Posey that especially weirds me out. Because while Posey isn't responsible for everything that's right with the Giants, he's responsible for a whole hell of a lot.

And the Giants somehow got a chance to draft him in the first place. It still amazes me. I might bring this up once a year. Well played, fates. Well played.

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