Buster Posey accepted a spot on the United States World Baseball Classic team, and his social media team is excited about it.
Excited to represent the Red, White, and Blue in the WBC! #teamusa #worldbaseballclassic https://t.co/7ciAJVzzgj— Buster Posey (@BusterPosey) December 6, 2016
But should you be excited about it too, or does this portend bad things for the Giants? Let's explore.
Con: Buster Posey wore down in the second half last year
That's the big one, right? We all watched as back injuries (and a hand injury too, according to multiple articles, though that wasn't as widely reported at the time) sapped Posey's power in the second half, turning him into essentially 2016 Ichiro at the plate. So, considering that Buster Posey tired down the stretch last year, when he didn't play a bunch of extra games in the spring, and this year he's going to be playing a bunch of extra games in the spring, and also he's a year older and the inevitable march of time tears us all apart and whatnot, it seems that he's likely to suffer some ill effects in 2017 from playing in the WBC.
Ill effects are bad. They're exactly the kind of effects that the Giants should avoid, thank you very much, and I don't want any of them happening to Posey.
Pro: Playing in the WBC doesn't have some devastating effect on catchers
Here are the major league catchers who were on WBC rosters last time around, in 2013:
(Ali Soler and Drew Butera also were in that WBC, though they didn't play enough in the majors that year to be on the main list.)
At first glance, Maldonado, Montero, and Arencibia all declined pretty badly that year, and since no one broke out, it seems fair to say that you don't want your catcher in the WBC. But really, that's nothing. Yes, they declined, but all their declines were attributable to factors other than the WBC. Montero was coming off a career year that he was never going to be able to sustain. Maldonado, while not a .520 OPS player in terms of true talent, was still never all that good a hitter, and in a small sample, these things happen. Arencibia showed in 2014 that his poor 2013 performance wasn't a fluke.
Then you look at Yadier and Mauer, who maintained their All-Star performances as they were starting their declines. You look at Lucroy, whose stats dipped a bit, but as it was the first year of his being a full time starting catcher, that seems expected. Jose Molina stayed exactly the player he'd always been and Hernandez enjoyed a bit of a dead cat bounce in his final season. I don't see the evidence that the WBC destroys catchers. I see players who declined for separate reasons, as baseball players tend to do sometimes.
Pro: The WBC is cool and it's good to see a great Giants player starring in it
The WBC is fun! it's also kind of stupid because a one game series of baseball never really means anything, but that makes it kinda neat. Maybe Italy will beat the Domincan Republic one game. Maybe the Netherlands will get to the finals. We don't know! But watching a bunch of really good baseball players play baseball at a high level is a fun, good thing, and because of the WBC, we have more of it.
And now Buster Posey gets to be one of those players. I like watching Buster Posey play baseball. I like watching him behind the plate and at the plate and casually talking to the umpire. I like the recognition that he's a great enough player to be on this team. I like that he's getting the opportunity to represent the country, which I'm sure matters a lot to him. Nate Schierholtz has more Olympic medals as a baseball player than Buster Posey ever will, you know. Seems kinda weird.
Con: Doesn't Posey need time to prepare for the season?
Spring Training is probably too long and all, but isn't it important for a player, especially one as vital to his team as Posey, to get all his reps in in a comfortable manner? Don't you want him getting ready for the season and getting to know Mark Melancon at the best possible pace?
TREVOR BROWN: (puts down finger)
MELANCON: Why'd you put down the sign for "Blow the save"?
BROWN: I dunno, Buster gave it to Casilla all the time last year. Kind of our thing.
MELANCON: I'd love to talk to him about it, but he's not here, so I guess I'll just blow a bunch of saves this year.
BUSTER POSEY: Wow, did you see this about these homeless children in Nepal?
NOLAN ARENADO: There are homeless children in Nepal?
BUSTER: Oh yeah, it's terrible. Every one of them needs a house by the end of September or they'll die.
BUSTER: I mean, I'd take the year off and personally build them houses, but I don't think my back can take that kind of labor. Poor guys. They only needed one star major league baseball player to build them some houses so they could survive. How I wish that I could be that star baseball player! Oh cruel fate, to have-
BUSTER looks up. NOLAN is gone. He gets a notebook out and checks a box.
BUSTER: All right, now let's see if Kershaw's on the team...
Makes you think, man. Makes you think.