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Buster Posey: Year in Review

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Posey’s last season was also one for the ages.

Buster Posey Announces Retirement Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Fourteen years ago, the San Francisco Giants were in a bit of a pickle. The team had finished last in the NL West with a 71-91 record, despite their hiring of a shiny new manager—Bruce Bochy— from the San Diego Padres. Barry Bonds had broken the all-time home run record with a late summer blast into AT&T Park’s centerfield, but he was gone after the season’s end. The young rookie, Tim Lincecum, had had an electric debut season, and Matt Cain was in his ultimate prime, but pitching could only go so far. What the Giants needed was a heir apparent to Bonds, a face of the franchise that could lead them steadily through the next decade.

It certainly helped they had the #5 overall pick. The Rays had the #1 pick in the draft, but were rumored to be shying away from signing the best prospect due to his price tag: a young catcher out of Florida State named Buster Posey. When draft day came, Tampa Bay passed over Posey, and the Giants were not afraid to step in, signing Posey for $6.2 million, setting a record for highest bonus ever given on draft day (at that time).

And the rest is history.

Mostly.

Given those auspicious beginnings, and the bitterly sad news of Posey’s retirement, it’s hard to focus this article on Posey’s 2021 season in review. But I’ll try, because what a season this was to go out on.

2021 Review (Stats)

I went ahead and used Fangraphs for all these stats, but set the minimum PAs to 450 for MLB and 400 for catchers.

Posey 2021 Stats

Stat Value Rank (MLB, PAs > 450) Rank (Catchers, PAs > 400)
Stat Value Rank (MLB, PAs > 450) Rank (Catchers, PAs > 400)
BA 0.304 12th 1st
OBP 0.39 t-6th 1st
SLG 0.499 37th 2nd
HRs 18 t-94th 5th
wRC+ 140 t-14th 1st
DEF 13.8 3rd 5th
fWAR 4.9 20th 1st

Some of these may seem like odd numbers to include, but they’re here to give you a sense of just how monster Posey’s season was. Despite only hitting 18 home runs (t-94th), he had a top-20 wRC+ on the season. His OBP was tied for sixth among all players, incredible evidence of just how elite his eye is. He put up 4.9 fWAR, tied for 20th overall and most among catchers. By basically any metric, Posey was one of (if not the) best catchers this year, and was a top-flight hitter regardless of position.

A hard thing to remember when looking at catcher stats is just how draining the position is on the body. To be anywhere near offensively elite with the toll of catching 110+ games on your body is a testament to how incredible Posey is. He caught 1093 games in his career, and was still able to have one of the best wRC+s in the game this year: a talent level that rarely comes along.

His accolades show this, too. He was an All-Star this year, received a few MVP votes, got the Silver Slugger, and both Comeback Player of the Year awards, after opting out in 2021. He had his best season by fWAR since 2016. More than anything else, he was a steady rock and anchor during a brilliant run from the Giants as they sailed to 107 victories and a franchise-leading record. He did all this despite being a father of four, including the Poseys’ adoption of two newborns during the pandemic.

For as long as I can remember, the Giants have always had a Hall of Fame catcher. Posey has been the rock that this franchise leaned out throughout the glory years of the early 2010s, when we were winning every other World Series; and he was there in the latter half, too, the 2016 heartbreak that turned into a disaster of a 2017 season. He put up All-Star numbers pretty much every season, even when the Giants were having trouble finding All-Stars on our own team. It’s now time for us to march into the future without Posey by our side, but what a season he left us on.

Role in 2022

:(

Being the best dad he can possibly be.

Grade: A+