By now you know the Buster Posey story all too well.
Lightning. A tree splits in half. Buster Posey makes a bat. Then Posey strikes out a fake Babe Ruth at a carnival. Years later, Scott Cousins shoots Posey and jumps out a window. A long time passes. Bengie Molina dies after running through a wall for some reason. Well, he wasn't running, per se, but he was … well, anyway, Posey meets Glenn Close and then hits a home run. Sparks rain down onto the field as Bernard Malamud spins in his grave. Posey turns to the camera and says "Suck it, Malamud" before making out with Close. The end.
A timeless story. But I have to be honest here: A lot of that was made up. Truth is, we don't know what the end of the story will be. Carlton Fisk blew out his knee when he was 26 and played for almost 20 more years after that. Jason Kendall had one of the best seasons of his career after coming back from a gruesome ankle injury, but he suffered a precipitous decline after that. Buster Posey suffered a serious injury. He's back now. That's all we know.
How will he hold up? How many games will he play? Will his swing be affected? His defense? His speed, such as it is? Is it possible to think of Michael Madsen without getting "Stuck in the Middle With You" stuck in your head? Questions, questions, questions. My best guess at some answers:
1. Posey will play about 90-100 games at catcher this year
That's a two games on, one game off approach. He'll probably get a fair amount of time at first against left-handers. When the Giants had a healthy Bengie Molina, they'd play him about 120/130 games per year. I don't see how Posey gets to that level in his first year back. I'll set the over/under at 100 games caught, and I'll probably take the under, but not by much.
2. Posey's swing will not be affected by the injury
You need a lower half of the body to swing, say "the experts." I guess I'll believe them just this once. But Posey's plate coverage and opposite-field approach looked great this spring. Small sample, spring training, and other caveats apply.
3. Posey ran like a gout-stricken moose before the injury; he'll run like a gout-stricken moose coming off an ankle injury this year
He stole three bases last year! Plus, he stole a base in the 2010 NLDS. Standing up, if I remember correctly. But he was always slow. He will continue to be slow. He will not be Bengie Molina slow. And Posey's a good, smart runner at least. He could have the speed of Colby Lewis and the instincts of Fred Lewis.
4. Moose can run up to speeds of 35 m.p.h. That's a bad comparison.
With gout? Okay, fine. The point still stands.
5. Moose can also swim up to six m.p.h.. Females give birth in May or June usually, after a mating period between late September and early November.
6. Yeah, pretty much. The mating period is called a "rut."
Oh. I think we're off track.
7. Posey's power was a question mark before the injury, so we probably shouldn't freak out if he doesn't exhibit huge power right away.
I go back and forth on Posey's power. He has a beautiful, glorious swing. I'm saving money for a dowry in the hopes that I can marry my daughter off to his swing. Love that swing. If only there were some way to give you an example …
I think the swing I was thinking of is about 1:20 in, but it's not like you're not going to watch the whole thing. Posey has an effortless power that you can't teach.
But it wasn't showing up early last year. It took him until May 19 to get his first extra-base hit of May, and he had a slugging percentage of .389 at the time of the injury; that's almost exactly the same slugging percentage Freddy Sanchez has had since joining the Giants. I'm not saying that the first 48 games of 2011 trumped the 123 we watched in 2010, but that we're still not sure what to make of him yet as a hitter. He's only played 160 regular-season games in the majors, after all.
I think expecting him to be a middle-of-the-order hitter right away is pretty optimistic. Perhaps even foolishly optimistic. That's the logic. Any player coming back from a serious injury is likely to have a rough adjustment when he comes back.
But here's another piece of logic: Doubting Posey sure seems like a stupid thing to do. Seems like he succeeds at everything he does. If Buster Posey were in one of those old-timey films of the proto-airplanes, the planes would have gotten off the ground. If Buster Posey were in Cutthroat Island, it would be the highest-grossing film of all-time. If Posey designed Superman 64, you'd be playing it right now. I hope he likes the frankincense, gold, and myrrh I sent him last week. Better late than never.
Having it: He will most certainly not
I think the power will come, but next year. You know what should be fun this year? Watching Buster Posey play baseball.