At some point this past season, Buster Posey's power numbers became a topic of conversation for Dodgers personnel gathered in manager Dave Roberts' office. Various staffers were asked to guess how many home runs Posey had hit in 2018, and their answers were fairly uniform."Everybody was guessing kind of in
At some point this past season, Buster Posey's power numbers became a topic of conversation for Dodgers personnel gathered in manager Dave Roberts' office. Various staffers were asked to guess how many home runs Posey had hit in 2018, and their answers were fairly uniform.
"Everybody was guessing kind of in the teens," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said of his former coworkers in Los Angeles. "From the other side, you still viewed him as a threat because he's such a good hitter, and it's such a tough at-bat, especially late in games."
In reality, Posey's power had been diminished by a hip injury that prevented him from incorporating his lower half into his swing and led to surgery in August. He finished the season with five home runs, his fewest since 2011, when he appeared in only 45 games before suffering a season-ending leg injury in a brutal home-plate collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins.
"It was a surprise," Zaidi said. "Obviously, he wasn't 100 percent. But I kind of mean it as a compliment because that's the perception that you have. He's such a threat that even in a year when he didn't hit a lot of homers, it felt like he was still that kind of guy."
Posey is entering his age-32 season and will be coming off major surgery next year, but Zaidi made it clear at the Winter Meetings last week that he still views him as a franchise player for the Giants.
"I think he's a middle-of-the-order hitter," Zaidi said. "Absolutely."
A healthy Posey could be just as impactful as any external acquisition in helping to revitalize the Giants' moribund offense, which finished 29th in the Majors in runs (603), homers (133), slugging percentage (.368) and OPS (.667) in 2018. Even with the hip injury, Posey managed to bat .284 with a .359 on-base percentage, the third-highest mark among MLB catchers with a minimum of 300 plate appearances this year, though his .382 slugging percentage and .741 OPS were career lows.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he's optimistic that Posey will to be able to regain his complete offensive profile next season.
"I think this surgery has all given us, including Buster, a little bit more hope on the hitting side," Bochy said. "Now he's going to be able to fire those hips like he used to. He just wasn't able to do it. As you get older, especially for a catcher, it's hard to say, well, he's going to get back to what he was at 23, 24. But I think they'll get very close to what he normally does with the bat. And that's with the catching part, too, holding up. I think we're going to see a different player, because we're going to see a healthy Posey."
Posey's rehab has been progressing well thus far, and he's expected to be cleared to start running sprints in mid-January. Bochy said it's still too early to say how much catching Posey will be able to handle in 2019, as the Giants will be cautious with his workload during Spring Training and at the beginning of the regular season.
"I can't tell you how much we can catch him," Bochy said. "That's a tough one to answer, but my hope is that he's going to be able to maintain his strength during the course of a season, and not just a season, a game. Last year you could see it catch up with him in the sixth, seventh inning where he wore down. I think he's excited about that."
Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.