Buster Posey’s Injury Opens Door For Colorado

By now, surely you’ve seen the bad news for San Francisco: standout young catcher Buster Posey suffered a left leg injury (assumed to be a broken left ankle and torn ligaments) as a result of a collision with Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins in last night’s game. The injury appears to be season ending, leaving the Giants without one of the best catchers — and players — in the game.

Even though the 24-year-old Posey hadn’t completely hit his stride yet, with a meager .389 slugging percentage, he was still productive for the Giants. His .368 on-base percentage represented a marked improvement over last season’s .351 mark, and his 113 wRC+ ranked fourth among qualified catchers. Throw in his significant defensive contributions — 15 CS against 27 SB, a solid 36% rate — and Posey’s 1.8 WAR ranks only behind Rusell Martin’s 2.0.

According to ZiPS, Posey was primed to get back to last year’s numbers, a .366 wOBA and roughly 4.0 WAR over the latter four months of the season. Replacing that kind of production is nearly impossible; it becomes even harder from the catcher position, as very few players will be available and the internal options are less than impressive. Eli Whiteside will crouch behind the dish for San Francisco today, and the Giants can only hope he can improve on his career .283 wOBA. ZiPS is not confident, projecting a .281 wOBA. Such a mark would place Whiteside marginally above replacement level over 300 or so plate appearances. Thus, it seems fair to say Posey’s injury looks to cost the Giants somewhere between three and four wins without some sort of move for a replacement catcher.

The Giants currently hold a 2.5 game lead on Arizona, a team which will likely regress, and a three game lead on their real competitor, Colorado. According to Baseball Prospectus’s playoff odds, the Giants entered today with an 86.3% chance at the playoffs, including 82.8% odds of winning the NL West. Those odds, however, assume the Giants are a .564 true winning percentage team, or just over a 91-win team. Without Posey, the Giants’ would then be closer to an 86-win true talent team, or a .531 true winning percentage team.

Even with that adjustment, the Giants project as slightly better than Colorado (.525 according to BP) going forward, largely thanks to the tremendous ability of San Francisco’s pitching staff. The Giants will remain favorites by a decent margin, but instead of winning the division 8 out of 9 times, it will be more like 5 or 6. For example, the Cardinals have a .010 expected winning percentage lead on Milwaukee and a 2.5 game lead in the division, and are division winners 66% of the time.

There is still time for the Giants to pick up a worthy replacement for Posey, but given the scarcity at the catcher position, a match may be difficult to find. In the current situation, the Colorado Rockies once again have hope, despite their horrid month of May. Luckily for San Francisco, they built up a head start with Posey. It’s enough of a head start for San Francisco to retain their position as favorites, but chances are the race in the NL West will be tight down the stretch.



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Kool
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Kool
5 years 4 months ago

Belt was called up as was Crawford. Belt may be able to replace the crappy production at 1st base and Crawford can probably hit as good as Tejada (at this stage in his career) but with great defense.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 4 months ago

but the rockies just lost de la rosa to tommy john surgery as well; these are pretty equivalent blows to their respective teams in terms of talent and productivity lost, especially given jimenez’s poor start to the season.

batpig
Member
batpig
5 years 4 months ago

um, not really. Posey is not only better, but less easily replaceable.

mhad
Guest
mhad
5 years 4 months ago

I’m going to assume you don’t really watch the Giants play baseball.

Mr. wOBAo
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Mr. wOBAo
5 years 4 months ago

Delarosa could easily have been the Rockies 4th best starter ROS and is replaced by some combination of Aaron Cook, Juan Nicasio, Esmil Rogers, Clayton Mortensen, and Greg Reynolds every fifth day.

Buster Posey is among the top 5 players in MLB under 25, and arguably the best hitting catcher in baseball. Losing DeLaRosa is a gut punch to the Rockies but as they have a 4th year option on his current deal if he comes back strong all they are really out is this years salary. Losing Tulowitzki last year for the Rockies was like what the Giants are going through now. As a baseball fan I hope Posey comes back as strong as Tulowitzki did last August/Sept.

Fergie348
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Fergie348
5 years 4 months ago

The other player called up was Fresno catcher Chris Stewart, who was splitting time down there with a triple slash of .221/.312/.274. Those numbers won’t displace Eli Whiteside as the everyday catcher. And I don’t believe he’s on the 40 man roster, so someone gets dumped from that as well. Not good. Really not good.

Matt
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Matt
5 years 4 months ago

I doubt someone gets dumped from the 40 man roster since Posey will likely be on the 60 day DL

Jason
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Jason
5 years 4 months ago

“Real competitor” my ass, Arizona is better than Colorado.

xeifrank
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Not sure about that, but the door is as open for them as Colorado. Atleast they were mentioned as the second place team, otherwise…

reillocity
Member
reillocity
5 years 4 months ago

I’m not yet ready to buy the Diamondbacks. I think their starting pitching will improve a bit as the year goes on, but they seem to me to be catching an awful lot of lightning in a bottle in their bullpen. That and a sketchy cast of characters forming their offense (Holy Hell, Sean Burroughs is back in the big leagues!) figures to do them by the time the pennant races kick in.

Mork
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Mork
5 years 4 months ago

Giants fans are trembling at the prospect of bringing Bengie Molina back.

Speculation
Guest
Speculation
5 years 4 months ago

What are the chances of a Posada to SF deal? His track record is good enough he might have something left.

fred
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fred
5 years 4 months ago

Can folks learn that rates need to be used in conjunction with the sample size and not in a vacuum?

While on paper the “marked improvement” of his .368 OBP vs his .351 last year seems quite significant… you know what that means in terms of how many extra times he’s reached based this year?

A whole 3 extra times…. this should be considered “marked improvement”? or variation? (ump, opposing pitcher, luck, opposing defense. # of AB’s vs righties vs lefties, etc).

channelclemente
Guest
channelclemente
5 years 4 months ago

Statistics don’t capture the dynamic in the clubhouse, heresy I know, but true nonetheless. The key will turn out to be, as it always seems to be with the Giants, can the pitching staff take up the slack. The impact of the return of Sandoval in late June is also a major, unquantifiable parameter at this point.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
5 years 4 months ago

Blah Blah Blah. Everyone in the NL west SUCKS! The Rockies? Puhlease! Tulo and Gonzalez. WTF else do they have? Their pitching is hot garbage. the only pitcher that was doing well is out for the season. The D-backs. Yeah right! Giants will win this division by at least 6 games. Their best player this year was Sandoval. And what have the Giants done since he has been on the DL. Just went from 3rd place five games out to 2 games in first place. Giants offense is anemic. Posey or not. Their strnegth is pitching, which will once again take them to the playoffs. I would of course expect a national website like fangraphs, who might as well just bend over and take it up the you know what for the sox, yanks and phils to be completely blinded and think the Giants chances took a major blow by losing Posey. Get real

Disgusted
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Disgusted
5 years 4 months ago

Right out of the MLB.com comment section.

Philip
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Philip
5 years 4 months ago

Why is Arizona a team that will likely regress?

Mr. wOBAo
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Mr. wOBAo
5 years 4 months ago

go compare the ERA to their xFIP and you will have your answer

SenSurround
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SenSurround
5 years 4 months ago

Because their xFIP is actually better than their ERA?

I’m confused by this.

shoewizard
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shoewizard
5 years 4 months ago
R-
Guest
R-
5 years 4 months ago

Posey is such a great game-caller and manager of the pitching staff that I expect the Giants staff will suffer some sort of drop-off as well.

Evan
Guest
Evan
5 years 4 months ago

Our only saving grace this year is that the NL West is awful. Rockies are awful, and the DBacks don’t have the pitching to contend.

We may replace Posey’s offensive production with a healthy Panda and Brandon Belt. If Pablo is more ’09 than ’10 and Belt pans out, we’ll be OK.

It’ll be curious to see if the pitching staff suffers under the guidance of Whiteside. Bear in mind he’s been our backup for awhile now, and probably knows the guys well.

Scout Finch
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Scout Finch
5 years 4 months ago

Lose 3 wins with the loss of Posey for the season ?

Just think about that for a moment and realize the shortcomings of the WAR metric to quantify wins and losses.

Diamondbacks ? Why not ? Rockies, most likely unless the injury bug bites them again.

One more: How the hell does Russell Martin have more impact on a game thus far than Buster Posey ? Baseball, a tragic / silly / engaging game.

The_Beard
Guest
The_Beard
5 years 4 months ago

I couldn’t agree with Scout more.

WAR definitely falls short in this case. It isn’t just about his statistics or runners thrown out, his impact on the pitching staff, game calling, not to mention the lack of protection for Pablo and the rest of the middle of our lineup that’s desperate for offense.

I love the WAR statistic as much as anyone, but it’s not as black and white in this issue in my opinion.

SF 55 for life
Member
SF 55 for life
5 years 4 months ago

agreed.

dbp john
Guest
5 years 4 months ago

What about the Dodgers? They have real good pitching too. Not to mention the best 3 and 4 hitters in the division.

The NL West is pretty mediocre, so its anyone’s to win I guess.

Dscott
Guest
Dscott
5 years 4 months ago

Whoever said De La Rosa would be Colorado’s 4th best starter for the rest of the season obviously doesn’t watch baseball. He’s there number 2 starter, and if Ubaldo doesn’t get back to throwing in the mid to high 90’s, De La Rosa could have been their ace.

batpig
Member
batpig
5 years 4 months ago

obviously, because everything that happens in the first 6-7 weeks of the season predicts exactly how things will go for the final 20. How is Ubaldo’s Cy Young award from last year holding up? Remember when Rockies fans were frothing at the mouth any time somebody suggested that Ubaldo WASN’T the best pitcher in baseball about a year ago at this time? How’s that working out?

there’s also a guy named Jhoulys who would take exception to your comments.

JDLR is a very good pitcher but is nowhere near an “ace”.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 4 months ago

ERA/FIP/xFIP in the low 3s all season disagree

padresrule
Member
padresrule
5 years 4 months ago

The Padres are 7.5 out

Mike Trout
Guest
Mike Trout
5 years 4 months ago

Hey guys, I’m curious, do you think I will be called up this year? I talked to the Angels and they said they will meet with Sidney Ponson to discuss my future with the organization?

channelclemente
Guest
channelclemente
5 years 4 months ago

Sorry Mike, no bait on that hook. Valentine is looking for his brain, maybe you can help with that.

Dustin
Guest
Dustin
5 years 4 months ago

I really felt bad for Posey and the Giants, it’s an unfortunate and dramatic way to end a season. But it seems no one is recognizing that the Rockies having lost their #2 pitcher for the season is perhaps as damaging. Not so dramatic, but just as unfortunate. Tell me, what’s the WAR differential between Jorge de la Rosa and Aaron Cook? Less than 3.5 games? As a Rockies fan, I reject the reaction of “that’s a shame, good for the Rockies though.” It’s idiotic to say actually.

big league chyut
Guest
big league chyut
5 years 22 days ago

Hooray! In hindsight, this wins the best article ever contest.

big league chew
Guest
big league chew
5 years 20 days ago

hahah sersly he didnt even factor in jorge de la rosa and ubaldo woes ( now traded to CLE)

the injury to de la rosa was the nail in the coffin.

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