Friday, September 24, 2010

Posey for ROY: A Closer Look

Yeaaaah, I'm gonna have to go ahead and ask baseball writers to... yeah... come in on Saturday... and do a little research. Yeaaaah. Thanks!

Well. You heard Lumberg. It's time for the absurdly biased sports media to pay attention not only to the Giants and the NL West race, but to Buster Posey and his incredible season.

I know he doesn't look like Dwight Howard in a baseball uniform or play in the Eastern Time Zone. I know he doesn't act like Kenny Powers, and he doesn't have sideburns like Joe Mauer. But Good Lord, if we're talking about the rookie of the year race and whether or not Buster Posey is a future perennial all-star, there's no argument to the contrary.

Since the moment the Giants drafted this guy, we've been salivating over his skill set and potential. Rightfully so apparently. His polished approach at the plate and soft hands behind it put him in such elite company already--- in his first year--- that you'd be hard-pressed to find more than a handful of catchers or young players that you'd rather have instead of Posey.

Let's just throw out a quick list, just for fun, of the top catchers in the world.

Joe Mauer
Brian McCann
Victor Martinez
Kurt Suzuki
Jorge Posada
Mike Napoli
Yadier Molina
Carlos Ruiz
Matt Wieters
Miguel Montero
Geovany Soto

That's it. Seriously. That is the list of desirable catchers in the entire league. Is that ridiculous or what?

--Mauer and McCann are in a class of their own. They are truly the two best in baseball right now.

--Suzuki of the A's is a great player, but certainly not in the class of the first two, and is closer to Yadier Molina in ability.

--Napoli, Martinez, and Posada can hit, but can't throw anyone out to save their lives.

--Wieters and Soto are slow to develop and are inconsistent despite their talent.

Honestly? I put Posey on that list at number 3. Right here, right now, as a rookie, Buster is only behind MVP Joe Mauer and all-star Brian McCann. Simply awe inspiring.

As for Buster's rookie of the year competition, it really comes down to one guy: Jason Heyward.

I'm as big a Heyward fan as any. Like Posey, he too is a Georgia boy, a fan favorite, and has drool-inducing physical skills and talent. There is no doubt that Heyward will be very good for a very long time. He respects history and has a high baseball IQ, plays the game the right way, isn't cocky or flashy, and is generally the prototype for a baseball player.

He garnered 10 times the hype Buster did. Perhaps it's because the Braves have a higher profile than the Giants (for some unknown reason). Perhaps it's because the Braves are always on TV, or that they are in the Eastern Time Zone. Perhaps it's because he started the year with the club and hit a monstrous home run in his first game. Or maybe it is all those things PLUS the fact that from far away, it really does look like Dwight Howard in a baseball uniform.

It's time to look at some stats. I put effort into this, so read AND digest them! I'll even include some Saberjerk Fangraph stats for you nerds/fruitcakes that hate RBIs.

Heyward leads in all cumulative categories... as he should. The guy has over 100 more AB's than Posey. The argument to be made, other than Posey's defensive abilities and exponentially more important position, is that Posey has done more in less time.

But what about Buster's rates and percentages? They're higher/better than Heyward's, What if they had the same amount of AB's?

To demonstrate this argument, I have adjusted Heyward's stats to what they would look like in the amount of AB's that Buster has taken. So basically, Buster has 77% of the AB's that Heyward's had, and this is what Heyward's stats would look like in the same amount of AB's. Not perfect, but it helps illustrate how incredible Posey has been, and shows his production rate.

Very intriguing indeed.

The other argument in favor of Posey is his position. I mean come on. There really is no argument. To produce at Posey's clip while catching one of the most prolific pitching staffs in the world, and throwing out would be base stealers left and right is truly impressive. Not only that, but the physical demands of getting down in a Saigon Squat for 9 innings a day, taking foul balls to the mask and getting bruised up on the regular basis makes the argument even stronger for Posey.

Heyward has played a good right field, and he's got a great arm, but the sheer rigors and demands of playing catcher full time are in a whole 'nother stratosphere. In addition, we forget that Buster has also played a flawless first base from time to time, a new position.

There have been a ton of good rookies this year, particularly in the National League. Jaime Garcia, Stephen Strasburg, Michael Stanton, Madison Bumgarner and others have definitely impressed, but when it comes down to what Buster Posey means to the Giants, it is no contest. He single handedly beat the Cubs the other day, and has meant more to the Giants than any other hitter. While Heyward's bat and presence in RF could be replaced, Posey's could not.

Isn't that the definition of value? Buster for ROY.

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