While Jonathan Lucroy, Devin Mesoraco and Miguel Montero were making up the National League catching contingent at the All-Star Game last week, Buster Posey spent three days at home with his family in the San Francisco area. Posey and his wife, Kristen, have twins who'll celebrate their third birthday in August, so the term "break" is relative.
No matter how much time Posey spent chasing rug rats and watching "The Wiggles," he used the brief hiatus from baseball to maximum effect. He hit the pause button, let a few aches heal and has looked rested and refreshed with 10 hits in 23 at-bats for a .435 average since his return. The San Francisco Giants, meanwhile, have won four of five games out of the chute to take a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.
San Francisco's ability to outlast the Dodgers in the second half could hinge in large part on whether Posey can keep producing at a similarly high level in August and September. The more Buster hits, the better the Giants look.
It's unrealistic for any big league team to expect a single player to "carry" the offense for weeks on end. That's especially true of catchers, who have to deal with the physical rigors of the position and the time and energy required in handling a pitching staff. But Posey, 27, has the talent and demeanor to multitask with the best of them. The Giants showed their faith in him when they signed him to a nine-year, $167 million extension in March 2013.
"As a player, he's [beyond his years]," San Francisco pitcher Tim Hudson said. "He has the aura of a veteran, and he's looked upon as a veteran in the locker room even though he hasn't been around too long. People respect him all over the game, and that's a testament to him as a player and a person. By his standards, he probably expects more than what he's done this year. But for 95 percent of the whole league, he's having a hell of a year."
With 100 games down and 62 to go, Posey is a staple among MLB catchers in multiple offensive categories. He ranks among baseball's top five at the position in hits (94), batting average (.286), doubles (18), homers (11), RBIs (53) and OPS (.783), and he's seventh in WAR at 2.2.
But the numbers are more solid than spectacular, and Posey has dealt with a variety of factors that have prevented him from going on an extended roll. He had some back issues that led to fatigue in his legs earlier this season, and his production at home has suffered from the spacious dimensions and cool nights at AT&T Park, where he sports a .670 OPS, compared to his .912 on the road.
Posey also has hit into his share of buzzard's luck. He's 14th in the majors with a line drive percentage of 25.9, and 111th with a .292 batting average on balls in play.
"If he was a little luckier, he could be hitting .300 or .320," Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens said. "But that's the game. All we really concentrate on is for him to have good at-bats, hit the ball hard and stay within himself and not try to do what the critics want him to do -- which is hit .340 and hit 40 homers and drive in 150 runs. Nobody is doing that anymore."