Why Fantasy Owners Should Temper Their Expectations For Buster Posey

Buster Posey burst onto the scene in 2010, helping to lead the San Francisco Giants to an unexpected playoff run and all the way to a World Series title.  We all know that the 2008 first round selection (fifth overall) has tremendous upside potential, but can we really enter 2011 expecting him to be able to replicate this type of success:

406 At Bats
.305 Batting Average (124 Hits)
18 Home Runs
67 RBI
58 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.357 On Base Percentage
.505 Slugging Percentage
.315 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The average is impressive, especially from a rookie, and came courtesy of a realistic BABIP.  Does that mean that he is a shoe-in to replicate it every year going forward?  Let’s not be so quick with that type of assumption.  One of the glaring numbers that stands out is his 13.5% strikeout rate at the Major League levels.

One thing we have learned is that, as a player moves up against tougher competition he generally strikes out more, not less.  Look at his numbers at Triple-A:

  • 2009 – 17.6% (23 K in 131 AB)
  • 2010 – 17.4% (30 K in 172 AB)

In fact, over his minor league career he struck out 102 times in 631 AB, a strikeout rate of 16.16%.  So, is it realistic to expect him to be able to reduce his strikeout rate by such a wide margin?  I certainly would argue against it, meaning that a fall in his average is likely (barring improved luck).  That’s not to say that he’s going to be a .260 hitter, but putting him in the .280 range seems fair. 

Is that a number anyone is going to complain about?  Of course not, especially from a catcher, but it also isn’t an elite mark either.

Next is the power.  Thanks to a HR/FB of 15.4% Posey managed to hit a home run once every 22.6 AB.  Over his minor league career he was at a home run once every 25.2 AB.  It’s not a huge improvement, but it is one worth mentioning, especially considering his home ballpark not being a great spot for power hitters.

Just look at his home/road split from 2010:

  • Home: .258, 6 HR, 29 RBI
  • Road: .351, 12 HR, 38 RBI

The average I wouldn’t look into too much, as he had a .265 BABIP at home and a .367 BABIP on the road.  Those numbers should even themselves out.  The power, however, is a bit more concerning.  Can we expect him to replicate posting a 19.7% HR/FB on the road?  If that falls, considering his home ballpark, he could see an overall power regression.

I’m not trying to suggest that Posey is a player to avoid, not in the least.  In fact I will be ranking him as my fourth best catcher later today.  I just wouldn’t enter 2011 expecting him to hit well over .300 and hit 25-30 HR.  He is one of the best at his position, but we need to keep our expectations in check.

He currently has an ADP of 48.02 according to Mock Draft Central, having been drafted as high as 25.  We all know about potential sophomore slumps or players not living up to expectations.  Just keep things reasonable and you shouldn’t be disappointed.  If you reach for him (like I believe taking him in the fourth round could be), you are setting yourself up for trouble.

How about you?  What are you expecting from Posey in 2011?  Would you be willing to draft him in Round 4?

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7 comments

  1. can you give me a projection? what round does he start making sense to draft?

  2. Eddy says:

    Professor,

    I’m a big proponent of punting catcher on draft date. It’s a strategy that I’ve employed successfully in the past.

    This year, however, my league has switched from AVG to OBP.

    Yahoo!, unfortunately, has Carlos Santana in the ADP of 70s, making about the seventh round the latest I can wait on him.

    My question: is Carlos Santana worth drafting? Or should I continue punting catcher?

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    Eddy – I have Santana as a 5th round pick and consider him a player very similar to Victor Martinez. That said, in terms of OBP I actually like him better than Posey and potentially as the second best catcher in that regard (behind Mauer), thanks to a strong walk rate. In an OBP league, he has a chance to be a real big player. In the seventh round, I wouldn’t hesitate.

    Mike – I have Posey as a late 6th round pick. Again, it’s not that I don’t like him, but I’m not going to reach to get him either.

  4. Nick Kappel says:

    Couldn’t agree more Eric. In fact, I have Santana ranked ahead of Posey.

  5. Nick Tenaglia says:

    Eddy-
    I think that Santana is the safer play over Posey because of his K/BB ratio. That being said, in an OBP league, Santana is the clear choice.
    However, if you are still want to look to punt the Catcher position and try to steal a cheap player you can also target John Jaso (.372 OBP in ’10) or Yadier Molina (.329 OBP in ’10). If you want to get real deep then you can look at Yorvit Terralba (.343 OBP), but he doesn’t offer much else in the ‘counting’ stats. Or you can also look to Ryan Doumit (.331 OBP), but he is going to be fighting for ABs unless he gets traded.

  6. Alistair says:

    I know what you’re saying, but I based part of my draft strategy around Posey’s dual positioning.

    After landing Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Zimmerman, Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw in the first four rounds, I became aware there was a need to draft a 1B.

    Given Posey was still on the board and had dual C/1B positioning, I picked him up for versatility. I understand 2011 may not be the same as his debut year, but I thought he was a value buy at 52 overall in my league.

  7. Rico the Mic Addict says:

    Im not sure how Posey’s track record in the minors, and his 2010 MLB debut stat lines would suggest anything else then a repeat of these numbers, but for a full season.

    The guy not only tore through the minors at a rapid pace. Once he was brought up, he tore through the regular season, with the pressure of the playoff hunt. Oh, then he went out and was a major factor in the Giants winning the World Series. He faced the best pitchers along the way (Latos, Braves Staff, Holliday, Hamels, Oswalt, Lee), and didnt slow down a bit.

    I have been reading this site for awhile, and have tagged along with all the projections…but Im not on board with this one. I rank Mauer above him, SLIGHTLY…and I suppose you can make an argument for McCann, but it absolutely ends there.

    If you are looking to score big on a catcher, and Mauer/McCann go off the board…Im nabbing Posey ASAP.

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