Aside from Rookie of the Year announcements and free agent buzz, the biggest news to come out of MLB on Monday was the Minnesota Twins‘ revelation that franchise catcher Joe Mauer will move to first base, where he will play exclusively starting this season.
San Francisco Giants fans know this topic of conversation all too well with their own star catcher Buster Posey. The former NL MVP is so important to the team that counsel has been swirling since Posey’s leg injury in 2011 that the Giants should move him out of harm’s way and over the first base. Almost immediately after Twins GM Terry Ryan made his announcement, Giants GM Brian Sabean made a proclamation of his own: Posey’s staying behind the plate.
Thank goodness for that. It’s much to early to move the 26-year-old from a position where he overwhelming excels. Posey once played all nine positions in a game while playing college baseball at Florida State, but there is no other position on a baseball field that fits him more perfectly than catcher at the major league level.
He is phenomenal behind the plate. San Francisco’s pitching staff has handed two World Series titles in the past four years to Giants fans. The first to credit for pitching success are the developmental coaches, but you could make the argument that Posey is next in line.
Posey has made 359 career appearances for the Giants at the catcher position. In every single one of those games, he’s given San Francisco a better shot at winning because of his knowledge of the Giants’ pitching staff. He led MLB with a 7.4 WAR in 2012; his 5.2 WAR last season wasn’t too bad either.
No disrespect to backup catcher Hector Sanchez, but Posey is just too valuable to the team to move him to a position like first base. And also no disdain to Brandon Belt, but a great defensive player has almost no impact in that spot. Plus, moving Posey to first would mean moving Belt to left field, and I think I speak for all Giants fans when I say that Belt in left field is simply not the best option for the franchise.
There will be a time and place for manager Bruce Bochy to start penciling in Posey more regularly at first base. Not any time soon, though. He’s too young and too precious to the Giants’ pitching staff. Not until another prized catcher comes up through the minor league system should San Francisco ponder than option, which could be a long time from now.