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Buster Posey is still the best

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He’s coming off his worst full season, but his worst is better than a lot of player’s best.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

There exists a common theme among Buster Posey’s two most-recent community projections. In 2018, The Athletic’s Grant Brisbee wrote an article with the headline: Buster Posey is still great, everyone. The previous year, he used the headline: Buster Posey doesn’t have to be in decline, you know. There’s a sense of worry surrounding the unofficial captain of the Giants, and I suspect it’s only intensified after a down year.

Posey is coming off his worst full season and he spent the offseason recovering from hip surgery. It’s only natural to worry that Buster Posey might crumble to dust. After all, life is fleeting and fragile. Posey is the youngest he’ll ever be, and there will be a day when Buster Posey is not good at baseball relative to his peers.

But fear not, friends, for that day is not this day, nor is it any day in 2019. Buster Posey is still great, everyone. Well, he’s great compared to the 2019 crop of catchers (who are quite bad!), but even compared to the best catchers ever, he’s still pretty good.

Buster Posey has been on a Hall of Fame path since he knocked Bengie Molina out of a starting job with the Giants. Not even getting his leg broken at the beginning of his sophomore season could slow him down. He came back the next year and won the MVP and since then, he’s been the best all-around catcher in baseball.

If he continues as he should, he’ll be a lock for the Hall of Fame. Dan Hirsch’s The Baseball Gauge has a handy tool to evaluate how players have performed relative to Hall of Famers at their position. Posey is right on track for admittance to Cooperstown.

Posey is in the middle of the pack, right on the heels of Yogi Berra, and a good deal ahead of Carlton Fisk who played until he was 45. The most recent catchers to be admitted to the Hall of Fame, Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez, finished their careers with 59.4 and 68.6 bWAR respectively. At 41.3, Posey is 18 wins away from matching Piazza. Assuming Posey plays until he’s 39, Posey would just need two more average Posey years (four wins), and average two wins for the remaining six to surpass Piazza.

Considering that Posey put up 2.9 bWAR in a season where he hit .289/.359/.382 with five homers, a two-win season from Posey would mean a steep decline (or that he never recovers from hip surgery.)

Add in that Posey has an even mix of skills and accomplishments that appeal to both the statheads and traditional voters, and Posey remains a lock for the Hall of Fame. His framing generally falls from good to elite. Having a resume with a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, three championships, six All-Star appearances (with more on the way) should satiate what remains of the “WAR is made up” electorate.

How Posey rebounds from surgery is really the biggest question for him. The early returns are encouraging. First, he’ll be ready for Opening Day, something the Giants weren’t sure about when he initially went under the knife. Second, the first thing he did in his Spring Training debut was line a base hit the opposite way and then go first-to-third on a single. It seems like he’s fine.

If he’s healthy, we should see the power come back for Posey, and really, that was all that was missing from his 2018 campaign. Here’s what the freely available projections think Posey will do in 2019:

Buster Posey 2019 Projections

Projection AVG OBP SLG WAR
Projection AVG OBP SLG WAR
ZiPS .288 .363 .407 3.8
Steamer .287 .364 .427 4.3

PECOTA thinks the slash line will fall somewhere in the middle, though it’s more bullish on his on-base skills. This would roughly be the Buster Posey we saw in 2016 and 2017 with fewer singles falling in, and I think that’s right on.

Projection

PA: 556

AVG: .289

OBP: .363

SLG: .414

HR: 11

SB: 2

bWAR: 4.2

Traded?

lol no. If the Giants aren’t going to trade Madison Bumgarner, they clearly aren’t going to trade Buster Posey. Besides, the JT Realmuto trade brought back Sixto Sanchez, a top pitching prospect with injury risk and low strikeout totals despite his ability to hit triple digits and Jorge Alfaro, a catcher who swings and misses more than anyone in MLB. That’s probably more that what the Giants could bring back, considering Realmuto is five years younger and is just as good as Posey.