Monday, November 24, 2014

2 comments Apparently Whatever Team Drafted Buster Posey Would Have Won Three World Series Titles By Now

Buster Posey is a great catcher and baseball player. All four teams that didn't draft him probably would have liked to have gotten a chance to look into the future, see what kind of baseball player Posey would become, and then draft him. When he isn't causing consternation based on when he was called up to the majors, Posey is causing (supposed) consternation from the teams that didn't draft him. Bill Shaikin has written a column about how the Royals passed over Posey in the 2008 MLB draft and then talks about the other teams that passed over Posey. There seems to be an...assumption, maybe...perhaps an insinuation...or more like a suggestion that whatever team had drafted Posey would have won one or multiple World Series at this point.

Every team in every sport passes up a great player at some point in that organization's history. It's bound to happen. I guess it's an easy comparison to see that the Royals and Giants were playing in the World Series and the Royals just happened to draft Eric Hosmer over Buster Posey. It's not really news, but it is interesting. It's just...the assumption I feel like I am reading that the Royals and the Rays would have won a World Series (and the Pirates and Orioles to a lesser extent) by now if they had drafted Posey seems speculative. I'm not sure it would have worked that way.

If the Kansas City Royals lose this World Series, none of the decisions they are about to make will be as crucial as one they made six years ago.

They could have had Buster Posey.

Yes, they could have had Buster Posey. The Royals do have Salvador Perez and he is 24 years old and signed for the next five years at $18.5 million, until he is 29 years old. He had the worst batting season of his career this year and hit .260/.289/.403, won a Gold Glove and had a WAR of 3.3. He's definitely not Buster Posey, but he's also not a shitty catcher. I'm sure the Royals regret not drafting Posey, but Posey has also signed a large contract (nine years $164 million) that would not have fit into what the Royals are trying to do. They want to build the team around defense and speed. Perez plays really good defense. Posey was a better selection, but the Royals aren't stuck with chicken shit right now.

With the third pick of the 2008 draft, the Royals picked first baseman Eric Hosmer. With the fifth pick, the Giants happily grabbed Posey, who has led them to three World Series appearances in five years.

Posey was a college player and Hosmer was a high school player. Different situations for both players. Posey is obviously the better player though. 

They won in 2010, when Posey was the National League rookie of the year. They won in 2012, when 

Posey was the NL most valuable player and batting champion.

In their 52 B.P. (Before Posey) years in San Francisco, the Giants never won.

They did make the World Series in 1989 and 2002, so it's not like they were a totally struggling franchise B.P. They weren't great, that's for sure. 

"It is not a coincidence," said Bobby Evans, the Giants' assistant general manager.

It's also not a coincidence that pitchers like Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Jonathan Sanchez (he was good in 2010), and Ryan Vogelsong pitched for the Giants during that time and they had a really good bullpen to help close out games. Buster Posey obviously has something to do with the Giants winning three World Series, but it's not a coincidence that the Giants won a World Series with Posey on the roster like it's not a coincidence they also won three World Series when they had good young pitching. 

The standard major league team has a catcher batting low in the order, and any offense is a bonus. In Posey, the Giants have an elite batter staffing the most arduous defensive position.

It is a plus, but it also doesn't immediately lead to success. The best hitting catchers in the majors this year (300 or more at-bats) were Devin Mesoraco, Buster Posey, Jonathan Lucroy, Yan Gomes, Russell Martin, Derek Norris, Carlos Ruiz, Evan Gattis, Chris Iannetta, and Yadier Molina. Of those players four were in the playoffs and two of them lost in the Wild Card game. It's a bonus to have a great hitting catcher in the lineup. It's also a bonus to have a pitching staff that's ranked in the Top 10 in ERA and quality starts (except for 2014) every year the Giants have won the World Series. I'm not taking anything away from Posey, his good hitting is a plus, but he's not THE REASON the Giants have won three World Series.

Posey was the only major league catcher to lead his team in home runs, and he amplified the Giants' huge competitive advantage at the position by leading his team in batting average and on-base-plus-slugging percentage, too.

I think this is more of a reflection on the lack of power the Giants had, and the fact Brandon Belt only played in 61 games, than it is a reflection that this is a competitive advantage of some sort. It's good to have a catcher lead the team in home runs, but I'm not sure it's quite the competitive advantage the author thinks it is without other great players around him. I also don't understand why this is a bigger competitive advantage coming from a catcher specifically. There still has to be great players around that catcher. Todd Frazier led the the Reds in batting average, OBP, home runs, hits, and RBI's, PLUS he had the catcher who hit the most home runs in MLB on his team, and the Reds finished 76-86.

"To play the catcher position, put up a .300 average and hit 20 home runs, you should be in the MVP talk every year," Giants pitcher Tim Hudson said. "I don't care how your team finishes."

Finally, an MLB player is on record as saying winning games doesn't matter in terms of whether a player on that team should be in the MVP discussion. Perhaps Tim Hudson thinks this only applies to the position of catcher. 

The Dodgers had the 15th pick of the 2008 draft. But the Giants, who had the fifth pick, hired Barr as scouting director.

With the Giants, Barr had his chance at Posey.

"If he was there when we picked, we were going to take him," Barr said.

This turned out to be a good move and the direct cause for the Giants to win three World Series. 

The Tampa Bay Rays, run by new Dodgers baseball boss Andrew Friedman, had the first pick. In one of the all-time draft blunders, they narrowed their choice to Posey and high school infielder Tim Beckham, then chose Beckham.

I do not approve of the wording of this sentence. One of the all-time draft blunders was drafting Tim Beckham just overall, no matter who the Rays had it narrowed down to. They could have chosen pretty much anyone else drafted in the Top 10 of the 2008 draft and been in better shape than they were in drafting Beckham. So yes, it was an all-time draft blunder to draft Beckham overall, regardless of whether they selected Buster Posey.

"How many World Series would the Rays have won with him instead of Beckham?" one American League scout said. "They're always looking for a catcher."

Oh lord. I don't even know what to say to this comment. It's not like if the Rays had drafted Buster Posey this would have immediately vaulted them into winning several World Series back-to-back. If they had brought Posey up in 2010 then he would have helped that Rays team for sure. I will concede that. The Rays may have a World Series title by now, but that's pure speculation. There's no way to know for sure, but one thing I do know for sure is that if the Rays had drafted Buster Posey, he would possibly not be a member of the Rays during the 2015 season. Based on the fact he didn't sign a team-friendly contract with the Giants, he wouldn't have signed a team-friendly contract with the Rays and would be eligible for arbitration during the 2015 season. The Rays love to trade players and get a solid return in order to keep payroll at a manageable level.

It's way too much speculation to ask, "How many World Series would the Rays have won with him instead of Beckham?" It's impossible to answer and any attempt to push the argument in the direction the author wants the argument to go is arriving to a conclusion based on assumption piled on speculation. Yes, the Rays would have been a better team in 2010 and beyond if they had Posey, but to say they would have won multiple World Series is unknowable.

The Pittsburgh Pirates had the second pick, and they focused on power-hitting Vanderbilt infielder Pedro Alvarez. The Baltimore Orioles had the fourth pick, but they had selected catcher Matt Wieters the previous year, and ultimately they took University of San Diego left-hander Brian Matusz.

Again, saying that a team should NOT have selected Buster Posey is an argument I can't make. Teams in every sport pass up great players all the time. I'm not sure if you have heard, but Michael Jordan was not the #1 draft pick in the 1984 draft. But having selected Matt Wieters, who was also a college catcher, it makes sense the Orioles didn't draft Posey. That is unless they liked them both so much they wanted to see which one made it to the majors first and then trade the other. That doesn't seem like the most efficient use of resources. 

"We were taking the best player available," General Manager Dayton Moore said. "We liked Buster Posey a lot. The thing we liked about Hos, the thing that separated us, was that we felt he was going to be a plus offensive player and a plus defender. Not that we didn't think Buster Posey would. He's a great player.

And Hosmer hasn't been the great offensive player on par with what a corner infielder should be or what Buster Posey has been. He has been a very good defensive first baseman. Hosmer looked like he was going to take off during the 2014 season after hitting .302/.353/.448 with 17 home runs during 2013. This didn't happen. 

Hosmer was drafted out of high school, so his development took longer. That was of little consolation to the Royals in 2012, when Hosmer was batting .232 and Posey was the MVP, batting champion and World Series champion.

Was it consolation to the Royals in 2011 when Hosmer .293/.334/.465 with 19 home runs in 128 games while Buster Posey only played 45 games because he's a fucking catcher who got run over at the plate and injured like happens to catchers? Was it consolation to the Royals during the 2014 postseason when Hosmer hit .351/.439/.544?

I'm not arguing the Royals shouldn't want Buster Posey, it's just the whole assumption and/or gist of this article is "These teams fucked up irreparably because they didn't draft Posey and this cost them at least one World Series" when I'm not sure this is entirely true. Posey is a great player and he's a catcher, which apparently is even more impressive while ignoring he will have to change positions at some point most likely, but the Royals would not have won a World Series by now with Posey and I have no idea how many World Series the Rays would have won with Posey. Maybe one, maybe two, perhaps zero.

The Hosmer pick might yet turn out all right for the Royals. He batted .302 last year. He is batting .448 in the postseason, and he has reached base 20 times in 36 appearances.

That, and he is 25 years old. There is time. 

If Moore had a draft regret, it was not the selection of Hosmer. In 2010, the Royals liked the left-handed pitching in their system and decided to pick Cal State Fullerton infielder Christian Colon. 

They passed on the guy who has turned into the best left-hander in the American League.

"We beat ourselves up on Chris Sale a lot," Moore said.

Now not drafting Sale if the Royals liked Sale a lot, I can't get behind. I'm a fan of "You can never have too much pitching" and "Quality left-handed pitching is so hard to find so get it when you can" that I would have gone with Sale if the Royals had liked Sale the most. That's IF they liked him the most. Colon hasn't been great, but he's not been a bust on a Tim Beckham level either. He's moved slowly through the system. If the Royals had drafted Colon instead of Posey then I could see the issue, but Hosmer should not be a huge draft regret.

In 2005, the Angels selected Posey out of high school, in the 50th and final round. Posey said the Angels never made him an offer.

It was pretty clear that Posey was going to Florida State. A player with the talent that Posey showed in high school doesn't get drafted in the 50th round if MLB teams aren't very, very sure he is going to be completely unsignable and instead choose to go to college. 

Posey had told major league teams that he planned to attend college. Eddie Bane, then the Angels' scouting director, had watched Posey throw 93 mph in high school and wanted to reserve his rights if he blossomed as a pitcher that summer.

Exactly, Posey was going to college. Let's not let the "This team fucked up because they didn't draft Buster Posey" story get out of hand. If Posey was drafted in the 50th round, every MLB team passed on him 40+ times, so it would just be fair to say, "Every MLB team wishes they had drafted Buster Posey."

The Angels' first pick in 2005 was pitcher Trevor Bell, who won four major league games.

Drafting a player in the first round who was clearly going to college would have been a very dumb move for the Angels to make. I get the author wants to show the Angels drafted Posey and didn't sign him, but he wasn't going to sign and they, like every other team did that year, should not have drafted him earlier than he was drafted. The Angels did draft Peter Bourjos in the 10th round of the 2005 draft. They should get credit for that.

"I can't remember who our first pick was that year," Bane said, jokingly. "But it should have been Buster, and we should have given him whatever he wanted."

Well, unless the Angels were willing to turn their MLB team into a college where Posey could play baseball for the Florida State baseball coach with other Florida State baseball players, I don't think the Angels could have given Posey what he wanted.

And guess what else? Mike Trout should have been drafted by every MLB team prior to the point he was drafted by the Angels. Four MLB teams wish they had drafted Buster Posey, but if the Rays, Royals, Pirates, and Orioles had drafted Posey, then that doesn't mean they would have won multiple World Series by now. Posey is important to the Giants winning three World Series, but it's just not his performance that led to those three titles. Madison Bumgarner turned into Sandy Koufax during the 2014 postseason and Pablo Sandoval turned into Babe Ruth during the 2012 World Series. That helped the Giants win those World Series titles. It's pure speculation to just assume the Rays would have won multiple World Series with Posey as their catcher.


Koleslaw said...

I know it's fun to look at drafts from years past and play what-if. I enjoy reading about Portland not taking Jordan or the QBs that were all drafted above Dan Marino and Tom Brady. However, it's LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW what would've happened if team X had drafted player Z instead of team Y. None of these articles are written with that supposition.

And the thing is, this isn't even a bust. This is just a "well, we got an average to above-average player instead of a perennial all-star-type player."

Also, to be nitpicky, neither of these player have been around long enough to tell if this is going to hold true. Pete Rose could come running down that 3rd baseline on Opening Day next year and Posey is done forever. Hosmer could get new contact lenses, see the ball better and hit .425.

At least the author isn't doing some Greggg shit and claim that HE knew that Posey should've gone first.

Bengoodfella said...

Koleslaw, I know. If Posey goes to the Rays, then who is to say they don't trade him prior to him hitting arbitration or something else like that happens? And yeah, it's not like those other teams (outside of the Rays) screwed up big time. Who is to say Posey would be who he is with the Pirates or with the Rays. I have NEVER thought "Boy, the Rays are just a catcher away from winning the World Series."

I think Hosmer will continue to improve and one factor the other is leaving out is that catchers don't age well, while Hosmer is an excellent defensive first baseman. So while Posey can play first base as well, he is going to have to be moved at some point in the future permanently to first base. Who is to say what kind of condition Posey's knees will be in at that point?

I love Posey and he absolutely should have been the #1 overall pick, so while Hosmer hasn't been the hitter that Posey is, he also doesn't have the whole "how will he age after catching" question about him.