Catching up with Buster Posey

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Maybe it’s the Florida State fan in me that was wondering how San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey has performed in the first month-and-a-half of the 2012 season, or maybe it’s the baseball enthusiast. Either way, the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year hasn’t gotten much national publicity this season, so I wanted to investigate the reason.

Posey missed a large chunk of the 2011 season when he was hurt in a collision at home plate. After major damage was done to his leg, Posey had to work for months to get up-to-speed for the 2012 season.

The Giants are sitting in second place, distant from the Los Angeles Dodgers that currently lead in the West. The first two years of his career, we heard a lot about Posey’s numbers (which were better than most catchers in the league), and I assumed he wasn’t getting much publicity because his stats have declined.

That’s only partially true.

Posey isn’t blazing a trail at the plate this season, but he’s not falling behind the pace set by other National League catchers, either. Heading into Tuesday night, Posey was batting .289, which ranks fifth among NL catchers. That number might seem a little low, but it’s not too far off his career average of .293. His on-base percentage of .341 is just slightly down from his career average of .352, so that’s nothing to sweat, either.

I think the problem might be that Posey just isn’t on as good a team this season. The Giants are struggling to stay above the .500 mark, and their 129 runs scored is second-worst in the division.

Another reason could be that Posey has been hurting lately — proof that his injured ankle might not be 100 percent. He’s still trying to get it conditioned for a long summer of baseball, and a 2-for-20 slump on a recent road trip pressured manager Bruce Bochy to give him a few days off. According to Comcast Sportsnet Bay Area, that swoon knocked Posey’s batting average down from .322 to .282. In other words, there’s probably not a lot to worry about with Posey, but after taking two steps forward to start the season, he took a step back when his ankle reacted to playing nightly.

It’s a good time for Posey to pull out of his May slump, if the Giants are going to climb back into the same atmosphere as the Dodgers. Without a recently-injured Pablo Sandoval, a .167 batting average for the month isn’t going to cut it, and it explains a lot about why Posey has fallen off the map this season.

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