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Season review: Joey Bart

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The debut season we all were waiting for.

Seattle Mariners v San Francisco Giants Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Our San Francisco Giants player reviews march on. Next up is the most highly-anticipated season of any Giant in a few years: Joey Bart and his rookie campaign.

Season stats

33 games, 111 plate appearances, .233/.288/.320, .609 OPS, 0 home runs, 7 RBI, 3 walks to 41 strikeouts

69 OPS+, 70 wRC+, 0.1 rWAR, 0.1 fWAR

Status throughout the season

Bart got called up on Aug. 20, nearly a month into the season. He stayed on the roster until the end of the season.

Season review

Bart made his Major League debut, and it was the most highly-anticipated Giants rookie season since ... Buster Posey a decade ago?

The team’s top prospect on most lists displayed monster power to all parts of the field in the preseason, and he picked up where left off when he got called up.

In his first game he hit a 109.5 mph double to left field.

In his second game he hit a 101.0 mph double to right field.

In his third game he hit a 100.3 mph double to center field.

And then the hits stopped coming. After that trio of extra-base knocks in his first series, Bart would have just four extra-base hits in the next 30 games, with his first career home run deciding to wait until 2021 to make an appearance.

It was a weird season for Bart, complete with many highs and many lows.

On the bright side is that when he made contact he made hard contact, and his defense and framing provided reason to believe he can be a very good defensive catcher some day. He also got hit by pitches five times (five times!) without getting injured which, given his past history, is a big win.

On the less bright side is the 41 to 3 strikeout to walk rate, which there’s no way to put a bow on. His slash line was bad, even within the context of being a catcher, and the advanced metrics paint his slash line as being quite a bit better than it should have been. His defense might have flashed potential, but it also had its fair share of moments that ranged from uninspiring to disastrous.

But despite the low spots outnumbering the high spots, two contextual footnotes are needed.

Footnote #1: Despite the clamoring from the fanbase for Bart’s arrival, he almost surely would not have debuted this season if it weren’t for Posey opting out. Bart was reassigned during Spring Training, didn’t make the Opening Day roster, and stayed in Sacramento for a few weeks past the point when the Giants could have called him up without losing a year of service time.

The organization made it clear that they thought he needed further development, and had they had a quality starting catcher like Posey, Bart probably doesn’t debut until 2021.

Footnote #2: He’s a rookie. It bears repeating that Bart is 23, with no AAA experience and less than 100 AA plate appearances. But most importantly, it bears repeating that rookies are supposed to struggle.

Of the players who currently reside on Fangraphs’ top-10 MLB prospects list, four made their MLB debuts in 2020. Here’s how those four fared:

#5 Joey Bart: .233/.288/.320, 70 wRC+, 0 home runs in 111 plate appearances, +0.1 fWAR
#8 Casey Mize: 6.99 ERA, 6.47 FIP, 26 strikeouts and 13 walks in 28.1 innings, -0.1 fWAR
#9 Jo Adell: .161/.212/.266, 31 wRC+, 3 home runs in 132 plate appearances, -1.3 fWAR
#10 Luis Patiño: 5.19 ERA, 5.61 FIP, 21 strikeouts and 14 walks in 17.1 innings, -0.1 fWAR

Bart’s struggles shouldn’t really be seen as concerning, so much as a reminder that we need to temper expectations and give prospects proper time to develop.

Role in 2021

Posey will be returning next year, and Farhan Zaidi was open about how Bart might start the season in AAA. He’ll almost surely get some MLB reps, but the Giants won’t be counting on getting anything from Bart next year. His play will determine if he has a role.

Grade

Not sure there’s any correct grade to give a player who struggled, but probably should have, but also flashed moments. I’ll give him...

C

Poll

How would you grade Joey Bart’s season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    A
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    A-/B+
    (3 votes)
  • 8%
    B
    (42 votes)
  • 21%
    B-/C+
    (106 votes)
  • 36%
    C
    (179 votes)
  • 22%
    D
    (112 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (12 votes)
  • 5%
    Incomplete
    (29 votes)
487 votes total Vote Now