Early reports are saying that San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey broke his left leg and will likely be out for the season after a collision at home plate yesterday in the Giants’ 7-6 extra inning loss to the Florida Marlins. Marlins’ center fielder Scott Cousins ran over Posey as Posey attempted to block the plate and tag out Cousins, who scored the game-winning run in the top of the 12th inning on a sacrifice fly by Emilio Bonifacio.
It was going to be a “bang-bang” play at the plate, and Posey left himself exposed while trying to field Nate Schierholtz’s throw from right field. Posey’s left leg got caught under him and twisted badly, leaving him slamming the ground and writhing in pain afterwards. He was helped off the field by Giants trainers.
No matter how Giants fans look at this, it’s bad. Really bad. Buster Posey was San Francisco’s most valuable player. Posey’s combination of hitting, fielding and leadership are extremely rare for a catcher, which is already one of the most important positions in baseball.
On a team that struggles mightily to hit, Posey was the team’s best hitter and was riding a 13-game hit streak. In addition to his hitting prowess, Posey is a great fielding catcher and does a good job of handling the Giants’ pitchers.
In terms of hitting, Posey leaves an enormous hole in the middle of the lineup. Aubrey Huff and Pat Burrell, the Giants premier power hitters in addition to Posey, are having a tough time this year. Huff is hitting .220 and Burrell is only hitting .237. Power hitting third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who was hitting .313 with 5 home runs before he broke his hamate bone in his right hand, won’t return for about two more weeks.
Also, Posey will be replaced by light-hitting backup Eli Whiteside. Whiteside is a capable catcher, but the offensive drop-off between Posey and Whiteside is huge. Whiteside’s replacement of Posey also puts stress on the Giants already-overcrowded outfield. Either Brandon Belt, who was called up from Triple-A Fresno, or Aubrey Huff will move to left field, taking playing time away from Pat Burrell, Cody Ross and Nate Schierholtz, hitters the Giants desperately need in the lineup.
Moving on past Posey’s contributions at the plate, his injury is an enormous psychological blow to the Giants and the Giants community. Posey is one of the most well-liked Giants and commands enormous respect in the clubhouse. Whiteside used to be Jonathan Sanchez’s personal catcher, but it remains to be seen how Whiteside will handle the rest of the starting staff.
More (Bad) News, and San Francisco’s Response:
Besides the strong possibility of Posey being out for the season, utility infielder Mike Fontenot injured his groin in last night’s game and was placed on the 15-day disabled list. Fontenot joins speedy outfielder Darren Ford (ankle) on the DL.
The Giants are banged up, to say the least. Currently, starting third baseman Pablo Sandoval, starting catcher Buster Posey, utility player Mark DeRosa, infielder Mike Fontenot and back-up outfielder Darren Ford are all on the disabled list.
Brandon Belt has been tearing up Triple-A ball, but he struggled in the big leagues earlier this season. It would be a mighty stretch to expect Belt to replace Posey’s offensive output.
The Giants have also bought the contracts of infielder Brandon Crawford (Class A San Jose) and catcher Chris Stewart (Triple-A Fresno).
Buster Posey’s agent, Jeff Berry, was vocal in his reaction to Posey’s injury.
“You leave players way too vulnerable,” Berry said. “I can tell you Major League Baseball is less than it was before [Posey's injury]. It’s stupid. I don’t know if this ends up leading to a rule change, but it should. The guy [at the plate] is too exposed.
“If you go helmet to helmet in the NFL, it’s a $100,000 fine, but in baseball, you have a situation in which runners are [slamming into] fielders. It’s brutal. It’s borderline shocking. It just stinks for baseball. I’m going to call Major League Baseball and put this on the radar. Because it’s just wrong.”
Berry has reportedly appealed to Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s leader of on-field operations about changing the rules regarding collisions at home plate.
Berry was also angry that Cousins bowled over Posey, saying that Posey was not even blocking the plate. ”At [the] point of impact, all of Buster’s body is still two feet in front of the plate leaving all of the plate exposed for the runner,” Berry said.