Posey 'on a whole other level' leading SF

May 8th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- Earlier this week, was asked what stood out to him most about ’s resurgent campaign with the Giants this year.

“Early in his career, he definitely was able to drive the ball the other way a lot,” Belt said. “He’s doing that right now, for sure. We’ve already seen him hit a few home runs to the opposite-field gap or opposite field. Pretty cool to see that. When somebody can do that, they’re usually on.”

Belt’s words proved prescient, as Posey continued to turn back the clock by launching a two-run home run to the opposite field to spark the Giants’ 5-4 series-opening win over the Padres on Friday night at Oracle Park.

later followed Posey’s lead, sending the decisive shot over the right-field wall to snap a 4-4 tie in the seventh inning and help the Giants improve to 11-3 at Oracle Park, the best home record in the Majors. At 19-13 overall, San Francisco retained its hold of first place in the National League West, moving 1 1/2 games ahead of San Diego and 2 1/2 games ahead of Los Angeles.

Posey put the Giants on the board in the third inning by hammering a 1-0 fastball from Padres left-hander Blake Snell into the arcade in right field for his team-high eighth home run of the season. It was the third opposite-field home run Posey has hit at Oracle Park and the first since July 23, 2012, when he was in the midst of his National League MVP season.

“Honestly, it’s not really surprising,” Slater said. “I think from the guys in the clubhouse, we recognize that Buster is on a whole other level, even when he was hurt the last couple of years. He’s a generational talent. You don’t put it past him to do anything on the baseball field.”

Posey, who sat out the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, is certainly looking like his vintage self through his first 21 games of the year. The 34-year-old veteran is 16-for-26 (.615) with 10 runs, two doubles, four homers and eight RBIs over his past seven games, boosting his batting average to .397 on the season. His 1.231 OPS ranks second in the Majors among players with at least 50 at-bats, trailing only Angels star Mike Trout (1.235 OPS).

“I think what Buster is doing is starting to get really, really impressive,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Not that it wasn’t before, but just to see it continue day after day. He had an 0-2 [count] to a 3-2 for a walk, as well. His at-bat quality is outstanding. He’s driving the ball line to line, seeing the ball really well. Wow, it’s just a really impressive start, generally speaking.”

Before the game, Kapler cited Posey’s improved health as a major factor in his renaissance at the plate this year. Posey underwent season-ending surgery on his right hip in August 2018 and didn’t appear to be at full strength the following season, when he posted a career-low .688 OPS over 114 games.

Posey didn’t play last year after he and his wife, Kristen, adopted twin baby girls who were born prematurely, but he used the time off to allow his body to heal and focus on improving his flexibility, mobility and strength.

“I think for me it’s just really being able to move efficiently and quickly,” Posey said. “That’s something that I felt last spring as well and carried into the spring. Really just trying to get a good swing off. I have a good plan going into the game with all of our hitting coaches and I like the work that I’m getting in before the game. I think it’s a combination of all of that.”

The Giants have been mindful of Posey’s workload this year, but Kapler has acknowledged that he has thought about using Posey at first base to keep his bat in the lineup on days when he’s not behind the plate. While Kapler called that possibility “tempting,” he said the priority for now will be ensuring Posey receives enough recovery to remain healthy and productive over the 162-game season.

Regardless of where he plays, it’s clear Posey has reclaimed his role as the Giants’ undisputed leader on the field and in the clubhouse.

“Honestly, he looks like the old Buster,” Belt said. “He looks healthy. I don’t know exactly how he feels, but he looks like he did back in the day. He looks like that leader that we’ve had for the past 10 years, when we were winning World Series a few years back. Obviously, it’s great to have him back.”