Over at the Sporting News, Graham Womack is taking a weekly look at the Hall of Fame chances for different active players. It's Buster Posey's turn this week, and the consensus is that he's not quite there.
Posey’s career thus far suggests he’s on rare trajectory. But Giants fans are going to want to hold off on pre-planning their trip to his induction weekend.
I have thoughts about this, and they can be summed up in two headers:
No, Posey probably isn't a Hall of Famer yet, but don't underestimate the power of his team's success
As Womack notes, Posey isn't even past the 10-year threshold for the Hall of Fame yet, and he won't be for a couple seasons. That's a pretty good indication that this is all premature. The argument for Posey would rest on five godly seasons, with an adjustment made for the one that he missed because of a freak injury. Five amazing seasons usually isn't enough for someone to get in. Ask Dale Murphy.
However, there's something to be said about perception. Posey isn't just an excellent All-Star catcher having a nice career. He's a symbol of everything a three-time World Series winner got right, the biggest reason a single team won their first three championships in more than a half-century, each more likely than the last. He came up and won the Rookie of the Year, and the Giants won the World Series. He got hurt, came back, won the MVP, and the Giants won the World Series again. Even without the third championship, that's a legacy that's going to set him apart from his peers and add to the raw stats.
That hurts the Joe Mauer comparison just a bit. They might have similar stats, and it's worth remembering how a couple down seasons can make everyone forget just how special some players were. It could happen with Posey. But the combination of overwhelming success on a personal and team level makes him a more like Sandy Koufax, who did make the Hall of Fame because of five special seasons.
Now, Posey wasn't nearly as dominant as Koufax, because almost no one was. They have things in common, though. Three rings, glittery awards, and separation from their peers, to start. The second-best catcher in baseball right now is, who, Russell Martin?
/mutes every last Cardinals fan on Twitter
Yeah, it's probably Martin. Which is to say that Posey is defining a special and rare spurt of team success, but he's also defining his position for a generation.
It's still too soon, though. Much too soon. We need about two or three more excellent seasons, combined with at least a couple okay-or-better ones after that, if we want to have a serious conversation. Unless we need six or seven okay-or-better ones to really help with the counting stats. There are a lot of permutations that get him in. There are a lot that keep him out.
This leads us to the next header ...
What in the ... didn't Posey just get called up? How are we debating this already?
he was just here, our special rookie of the year, and now he'll be 30 in less than a year, where does the time go, everything we know and love will eventually decay, and i can't even enjoy the things i love without being reminded about this one unalterable truth of our miserable existence
Whoops, sorry about that! Just sort of slipped out. But, yeah, it's weird to think of Posey as a player with a legacy. He still feels like young, fresh, new superstar Buster Posey to me, and here he is getting an honest assessment of his future Hall of Fame chances already.
It's odd, but it also means something very tangible: We've already watched just tons and tons of transcendent baseball from Posey. He's catching almost every pitch that helps the Giants win, and he's getting the kind of hits you would expect from an All-Star first baseman, not a catcher. He's done it for five-plus years now, and with any luck, he'll do it for another four or five.
He's been one of my favorite athletes to watch in my lifetime, and we're lucky as all hell to get this chance. That's the main point. Maybe he makes the Hall, or maybe he doesn't, but look at what we've already watched.
Now let's see some dingers.