Giants catcher and former Lee County star Buster Posey admits 2013 has been frustrating in San Francisco, where the Giants have struggled all season and will miss the postseason for the first time with a healthy Posey. (Reuters)
SAN FRANCISCO — The San Francisco Giants learned something about themselves this season: Even a healthy Buster Posey isn’t enough to get you to the World Series.
Barring a miracle within a miracle, the Giants — who were 19 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading Dodgers with just 13 games left in the season entering Saturday — will not be making a postseason run for the first time with Posey on the active roster since he made his major league debut in 2010.
And it’s an awfully strange feeling.
“It is. It is frustrating,” Posey told The Herald by telephone late last week as he drove to the ball park and was asked how much different the ride felt this year compared to those days during the Giants’ 2010 and 2012 seasons that ended with World Series rings. “Right now, all we’re thinking is we need to finish strong going into next year, try to identify some things we need to work on. If we do that, we can get back to where we want to be.”
As in, the envy of all of baseball.
Posey, who missed most of the 2011 season with a leg injury — and consequently San Fran missed the playoffs — led the Giants to not one, but two World Series crowns in his first two full seasons as San Francisco’s catcher. It was a historic and amazing run by a team that not many saw coming. So now that the Giants have arrived, forgive Posey if he’s not used to all this losing nonsense.
“It is what it is, I guess,” the 26-year-old Leesburg native lamented, referencing the Giants’ 67-81 record. “All we can do is look forward and make the correct adjustments.”
And it may start with Posey, who saw a dip to his numbers after coming off a National League MVP season last year when he batted an NL-best .336 with 24 home runs and 103 RBI. This year, he’s batting .306 with 15 home runs and 71 RBI and is on pace to finish .312/17/80. Posey once again leads the team in all three categories, but that doesn’t help him sleep at night.
All he sees is the Giants in an unfamiliar position: last place.
“It’s not the season any of us imagined,” Posey said. “But I will say this: Something I’ve been pretty happy with is I feel like 99.9 percent of the time this team is giving full effort. I don’t feel like we’ve had anyone who has quit. Who wants to play on a team like that? When things aren’t going right, you still have to go try to win ball games. Ultimately, that’s the goal no matter what the situation in.”
The situation, however, may change by the time Posey shows up to spring training next year. Giants manager Bruce Bochy, a former catcher himself, has hinted all season that Posey’s days behind the plate might be numbered in the interest of protecting the long-term health of their franchise star. The Giants already have a heck of a backup in Hector Sanchez, who Bochy has said as recently as last week could be “a starting catcher with us.”
So where would that leave Posey? Maybe his adopted home of first base, where he’s started 12 games this season and is batting .390? Try again.
“I think he’d be a really good third baseman,” Bochy told CSN Bay Area three weeks ago. “We like him where he’s at now. And this is something (that would happen) if he took the time to learn it in the offseason and spring training. But he’s an athlete and he has the hands and the arm.”
Posey said it’s “weird” to think about not catching full-time, but he’s not opposed to doing anything that helps the organization that gave him $167 million this offseason — the richest contract in franchise history.
“Giving your body a break is never a bad thing, but it is weird (when I’m not catching),” Posey said. “I’ve actually played less first base than last year, but if (changing positions) means more wins … “
Posey didn’t need to finish the sentence. The Giants know he’s the consummate team player. Just look at the fact he returned to the lineup this week with a broken finger, despite San Francisco having less than a one percent chance of making the playoffs at this point.
Just all part of being a leader, Posey said.
“I honestly think you just do what you think you’ve got to do, what gives you the best chance to win. Yeah, we have seriously high odds against us to make the playoffs, but if leader is your role, it doesn’t stop just because you’re all but out if it,” he said. “You’ve got to always keep that in mind.”
Posey has done his best to stay positive about 2013, which has also had its share of highlights, including Angel Pagan’s walk-off, inside-the-park homer in May against Colorado — the MLB’s first in almost a decade — and another no-no from a Giants pitcher. Last year, Posey called Matt Cain’s perfect game, and this year it was a no-hitter by Tim Lincecum, the player Posey’s been rumored to be feuding with for years.
Hopefully, that story has been put to rest now, Posey said.
“I don’t think there was an ever an issue,” said Posey, who was photographed laughing and celebrating as he picked Lincecum up off the mound after the feat July 13 against the San Diego Padres. “I think that last year, things were going so well, (the media) had to find something to pick on. This year, things haven’t so been go as well, so there’s plenty else to talk about. (Tim’s no-hitter) was definitely one of the best moments of the season for everyone.”
The Giants’ issues from 2013 will sort themselves out this offseason. And while Posey knows the look of the team could be very different next year, he quickly points out that it wasn’t long ago nearly this exact same group won it all.
“I think we have some really good players, but I’m not the GM so there isn’t a whole lot of point saying (which direction we should go in) one way or another,” Posey said. “But I will say this: I think this group has proven it can do some really good things. We just have to come with it next year, be ready to go and ready to get after it.”