Buster Posey may be basking in retirement, but he stepped back into the spotlight on Saturday, when the Giants celebrated his legacy during an hour-long pregame ceremony at Oracle Park.
At one point, rookie catcher Joey Bart found himself back in Posey’s shadow, quietly emerging from the dugout to begin helping Logan Webb warm up for his scheduled start against the Cardinals.
As fondly as fans will look back on Posey’s iconic 12-year career, Bart now represents the future for the Giants behind the plate, though it hasn’t been an entirely smooth transition between eras thus far.
Bart, 25, entered Wednesday mired in a 3-for-39 (.077) funk that dropped his batting average to .158 over 19 games this season. While he’s hit three home runs and drawn 10 walks, Bart has struck out 29 times in his last 50 at-bats and 32 times in 69 overall plate appearances in 2022. His 46.4% strikeout rate is the highest clip among Major League hitters with a minimum of 50 plate appearances this year.
“It’s been an up-and-down season in the batter’s box,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He’s gotten some big hits, but there’s been a lot of swing-and-miss. That’s been part of his game. It’s something we’re willing to hang in there with him on. We’d obviously like to see him make more contact. As long as he’s walking occasionally and driving the ball -- extra-base hits, some balls in the seats -- it’s a really good overall package. But it's definitely still a work in progress. I think there’s an elevated level of performance in there for Joey.”
Growing pains are to be expected with any young player who is attempting to establish himself in the league, though Kapler noted that Bart has not let his offensive struggles affect his work behind the plate. While the Giants are still waiting for Bart’s bat to come around, they’ve seen growth on the defensive end, repeatedly praising his improved communication with pitchers and his excellent framing.
What’s Posey’s view of Bart’s season so far?
“I think the biggest takeaway for me is that he’s been poised,” Posey said. “That’s carried over behind the plate. I feel like he’s done some good work with the pitchers behind the plate. It seems like he’s gaining their trust. He started off hot, had a little rough patch with the bat, but again, I’m not seeing the body language that you might have seen a couple of years ago. I think that bodes well for him going forward.”
In the meantime, the Giants could award more starts to veteran Curt Casali as Bart attempts to get his swing back on track. Bart has posted an encouraging 52% hard-hit rate, but he’ll have to punish more pitches in the zone to better tap into his power moving forward.
“Joey has some adjustments to make,” Kapler said. “Joey has taken more walks than he has in the past. He has laid off more pitches than he has in the past, so he hasn’t chased as much. The swing-and-miss might just be a part of his game, but it’s something that if there’s not a little bit of improvement in that particular area, it’s just going to be hard for him to be a plus-plus offensive player going forward. It’s not to say that it’s not possible, it just makes it more difficult. So we’ll continue to work on his swing and work on his approach. We’ll do that collaboratively with him. We’re going to do everything we can to put him in a position to succeed.”