At 15 games back of the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers and 13 games back of the second Wild Card, the San Francisco Giants are going to have their work cut out for them just to avoid the division basement, let alone hang on to the razor-thin hope that an incredible miracle run will give them a shot to actually defend their World Series trophy.
However, with the way that Buster Posey is playing these days, the team might as well cozy up in fifth place — because they’re simply not going to be moving anywhere.
While the team has seen its fair share of struggles both on the offensive and pitching side of things, there’s little question that the lineup is centered around the run-producing abilities of their All-Star and defending NL MVP … and well, I think it’s fair to say that he probably won’t be winning those honors for the second-straight season.
Though the 26-year-old’s .300/.372/.489 triple-slash on the season is still fantastic, and his 3.9 fWAR continues to make him one of the best and most valuable backstops in the game this season, almost all of it is contributed to what he did to get selected to the Midsummer Classic rather than what he’s done since.
In short, Posey’s numbers have all but fallen off a cliff.
It’s almost like he’s come back a totally different (and undesired) player after the All-Star break, really. After being well on his way to another superstar-type season with a .931 OPS first half, the catcher managed to get hits in just four of his 11 games after the break to close of July (including a six-game hitless streak), giving him an underwhelming .265/.319/.398 line for the month.
But surely, it was just a minor speed bump in a MVP-worthy season, right?
Not so much. After hitting in five of his first six games in August and looking like he might be starting to turn things around, Posey currently finds himself in another slump, going a combined 0-for-12 in his last four games. That’s good enough for a .565 OPS in August so far … and he hasn’t homered since July 20.
Think it’s a minor slump with a small sample size? Perhaps, but a .186/.266/.271 line through 79 PA after the break from the Giants’ most important player is not a slump that the team could have afforded at any point, really. At -0.2 fWAR, he’s actually been one of the team’s least valuable players since the All-Star game.
Fortunately, his plate discipline numbers have remained fairly reasonable, so it’s not like he’s been totally lost; and though he is grounding the ball a whole lot more these days (51.7 percent in second half vs. 45.8 in first half), a 20 percent line drive rate (compared to 18.9 in the first half) suggests that the baseball gods may be messing with him by giving him a .203 BABIP (.337 in first half).
So, a turnaround might still be on tap for Posey yet — the only problem is that if/when it happens, it’ll be far too little and far too late for the Giants.