Buster Posey came along at the perfect time. The Giants’ Face of the Franchise position had been vacated at the end of 2007 by Ryan Klesko (do not fact check this) and the organization was still trying to to delay the introduction of sabermetrics. The multi-hyphenate Florida State super star checked all the boxes a traditionalist could draw on a scouting form and a computer could generate in a spreadsheet.
Every bit of video showed him to be a tenacious player on the field and an aww-schucks personality off it and that combination is the kind of grounded yet marketable star power the Giants were looking for. There are no guarantees in the MLB Draft and the Giants could only hope that signing him when they did would time out so that he’d contribute to their next meaningful season... which would need to be sooner rather than later after a 5+ year playoff drought.
Today’s the 10-year anniversary of Buster Posey signing with the Giants. At the time, his $6.2 million signing bonus was the highest in MLB Draft history. Of course, the Giants recently doled out a new signing bonus record for a position player this past June when they gave catcher Joey Bart $7.03 million. It’s not difficult to imagine that they see something in Bart that they saw in Posey. But that just puts more pressure on Joey Bart to follow in Buster’s footsteps. Just what sort of path did Buster blaze?
Since Barry Bonds’ departure in 2007, the Giants’ leader in hits, home runs, plate appearances, RBI (yeah, I said it!), runs scored, walks, intentional walks, plate appearances, games played, wOBA, and wRC+ (as in the value of the runs he’s created relative to the rest of MLB), is Gerald “Buster” Posey.
He caught the final out of the 2010 World Series. He caught the final out of the 2012 World Series. He picked up Madison Bumgarner to give him a hug after the final out of the 2014 World Series. He revitalized the House That Barry Built and single-handedly pointed the franchise to the future.
You could get into an aggression-free argument about the role Tim Lincecum played in guiding the team towards the horizon or even Matt Cain, but as key as their performances were over the years, Buster Posey did it almost every day and he did everything the Giants asked of him and became everything they needed him to be and when they most needed a player who could do all those things. The Giants gave much and got much from Posey.
Ten years later, it’s easy to see now that the Giants were all-in on Posey from the jump and knew exactly what kind of person and player they were getting. Then again, they did say this on the day they announced the signing:
“Buster is a great fit for us,” Giants scouting director John Barr said. “He’s the type of player we need to bring in, and lots more like him.” Posey will report to the Giants’ affiliate in the Arizona rookie league to see live pitching. Giants player personnel director Bobby Evans wouldn’t rule out sending Posey to finish the season at Class”‰A San Jose, where he could be a major assist to a club headed to the California League playoffs.
It’s fun to see how the industry wasn’t quite as sure as the Giants were. Watch the video and stick around to see him interviewed.
Posey had no idea he was a little less than five years away from signing a 9-year, $167 million contract.
“It’s hard to put into words what I feel right now, just an incredible feeling to know that for the next nine years I’ll be a part of this very storied franchise,” Posey said. “I’m incredibly humbled to know I’ll be a part of that.”
It’s staggering to consider how quickly this came to pass. He was drafted in 2008, got a callup in September 2009, the Giants played with his service time in 2010 but then traded veteran Bengie Molina to thwart their manager and make a rookie their starting catcher and then in 2011, after Scott Cousins obliterated his ankle, Brian Sabean himself stood up for one his players using the harshest language we’ve ever heard from him to condemn Cousins:
”If I never hear from Cousins again or he never plays another game in the big leagues, I think we’ll all be happy.”
It was a harsh enough statement that the Giants issued an apology. The injury became a rallying point of sorts for that season, but who could’ve imagined that a rookie catcher would lead a team to the World Series and instantly become the face of their franchise? That’s a low probability situation. It was how Joe Mauer’s career was supposed to turn out.
Carmen had a great run down (in gif form) of Posey over the years, but we could fill this post and the comments with our memories, big and small of Posey. For instance, over the past 10 years, Posey’s 23 stolen bases are good for 9th place on the Giants.
We celebrated Pablo Sandoval’s place in the organization just a couple of days ago, but as much as he represents the fun and joy of the game, Buster Posey represents the thrill of watching the game played at its very best, and there’s still more to come.