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Should we worry about Buster Posey?

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The Giants catcher has had a slow start to the year

Unfairly handsome imo
Unfairly handsome imo
Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Buster Posey has had a slow start to the year, hitting .265/.328/.426, and let's all take a moment to be thankful that a 105 wRC+ from a catcher counts as a disappointment. Now that the moment's over, we can go back to freaking out that Buster Posey is only 5% better than the average hitter oh god I can't breathe what do I do what do I do what do ...

(takes a deep breath)

Okay, I'm back. I suppose the first thing here is to take a cursory look at his rate stats and see what they say. Posey's striking out and walking at his normal career rates, his ISO is .161, which is fine for him, and ... ah, there it is. Career BABIP of .323. 2016 BABIP of .270. Guess we can close up shop. If only there were some other Bay Area sports for you guys to talk about...

Okay, okay, let's assume there's more to it than luck. There might not be, but let's look at the possibility anyway. First, let's take all the numbers I just said at you and put them in table form:


2016 Career
BB% 9.2 9.1
K% 11.5 12.2
OPS 0.753 0.853
ISO 0.161 0.173
BABIP 0.271 0.323

Fantastic. Now, let's look at the numbers relating to batted ball profile (excluding fly ball percentage, because it is essentially right at his career norm).


2016 Career
LD% 18.8 21.6
GB% 48.6 46
Pull% 46.4 38.2
Cent% 26.1 36.6
Oppo% 27.5 25.2
Soft% 13 13.9
Med% 48.6 53
Hard% 38.4 33.1

Outstanding. Tables are fun and useful.

So what does this one tell us? Well, the problem isn't how hard he's hitting the ball; in fact, his hard hit rate is higher than ever.  He is hitting fewer line drives and more grounders, but not by a lot. The number of balls he's hit to the middle of the field has plummeted, and that's been replaced by balls he's pulled. And if you plug all this into Fangraphs's xBABIP calculator, it spits out that his BABIP should be .313, which would pretty much solve all his problems.

All of Buster Posey's peripherals are in line with what he's done in his career. He's walking plenty, he's not striking out, his power is fine, he's hitting the ball hard, his plate discipline numbers are fine, and he just happens to have hit into some bad lucky. He will not necessarily break out of his slump – baseball players can and do have season-long BABIP drops – but there's nothing behind the raw numbers to worry about. Even though his numbers aren't quite as good as usual, Buster Posey has still been Buster Posey. Baseball's just been kind of a dick to him.

UPDATE: Smash Mouth has opinions on this subject.