When the Giants take batting practice three hours before a home game at Oracle Park, catcher Buster Posey isn’t a participant.
Posey’s not arriving late to the ballpark and isn’t starting games cold, but he now has a different way of preparing for competition that’s designed to keep him fresh and healthy.
“I’m waiting a little bit closer to game time to do that (hitting) routine, just down in the cage,” Posey explained.
The reasoning? Warm up once, so that when Posey begins preparing for a game, he never cools off.
“My goal is to try to get hot, meaning get loose, just one time,” Posey said. “And not necessarily stretch at 4:15 or 4:30 and then hit and then cool down. So I’d say that’s probably the biggest difference for me this year to years past is to try to time out my preparation and schedule.”
Posey, 34, sat out the 2020 season after he and his wife Kristen adopted identical twin girls and spent an entire year away from the game. Hitting against and catching major league pitching could have required an extended adjustment period, but 10 games into the year, Posey has been one of the Giants’ most reliable players.
He’s 7-for-24 with two home runs and a .912 OPS at the plate and has been just as valuable on defense, where he’s caught three of seven baserunners attempting to steal and has provided stability for a starting rotation that’s been among the best in the majors thus far.
Despite the team’s 6-4 record, the Giants’ offense has been underwhelming as many of the club’s most prominent hitters are off to slow starts. The Giants’ 3.1 runs per game entering play on Tuesday ranks as the second-worst mark in the big leagues, but Posey is one of the few hitters who’s been a consistent performer.
One of the biggest keys to Posey’s success has been his ability to hit the ball in the air and to the pull side, as four of his seven hits including his Opening Night home run were driven to left field. It’s likely too early to draw conclusions about his batted ball data, but Posey’s average launch angle of 14.2 degrees is easily the highest mark since Statcast began tracking in 2015.
“I don’t know if the goal is necessarily to hit the ball in the air, I think when my swing is right it just happens on its own,” Posey said. “So I think there’s a correlation between mechanically being in the right place and the body moving the correct way to more balls being in the air whether it’s line drives or flyballs.”
With above average walk and strikeout rates compared to the rest of hitters around the majors, Posey has shown that the plate discipline that’s been one the most impressive elements of his game throughout his career has also returned after a long absence from competition.
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Author: Kerry Crowley
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