He is also a seven-time All-Star (2012, 2013, 2015–2018, 2021), a former MVP (2012) and Rookie of the Year (2010), a Gold Glove Award winner (2016), a four-time Silver Slugger Award winner (2012, 2014, 2015, 2017), the National League Comeback Player of the Year (2012), and a former NL batting champion (2012).
So why are we surprised about his 2021 performance?
Well, for lots of reasons.
A Resurgence For The Ages
First of all, he is a 34-year-old catcher, and those are not supposed to hit .314/.408/.517 in 84 games like Posey is doing.
After missing '20 season, Buster Posey is back!
↗️ Offensive numbers
👊 Leadership presence
💪 Ability to handle pitching staff
— NO ERRORS (@noerrors) August 18, 2021
This kind of production, at that age, is almost unprecedented for a catcher.
But we are talking about a future Hall of Famer, so anything is possible.
Second, he hadn’t produced at this rate since 2017, when he slashed .320/.400/.462.
Buster posey last elite season came in 2017. From 2018-2019 it looked like he was beginning to decline like most catchers do in their mid 30 posting a 95 OPS+ after posting a 137 OPS+ from 2012-2017. This year? Age 34? 160 OPS+ 😭
— Sad Mets fan. (@Brotherwtbeard) August 17, 2021
He was middling in 2018 (.284/.359/.382) and mediocre in 2019 (.257/.320/.368).
He didn’t play in the 2020 season, so given his performance in the two years before that season, seeing him hit the ball like he has in 2021 is certainly surprising.
In fact, you could maybe argue that Posey is, at 34 years old, having the best year of his career in 2021.
He hasn’t posted a slugging percentage above .500 since his MVP year, 2012.
He hit 24 homers and drove in 103 runs that year, so it’s hard to compete with that.
But back then, he was a 24-year-old star about to enter his prime.
What he is doing this year is nothing short of amazing considering his age and the wear and tear in his knees from all the catching he has done over the course of his career.
One Of His Finest Seasons
Posey, with the help of the Giants’ coaches and player development staff, has managed to revive his career in 2021.
To do that, he has embraced the approach that has proved successful for so many hitters in recent times: power and patience.
He is rocking his highest slugging percentage and ISO (isolated power, which is slugging minus batting average) since that MVP year in 2012.
Additionally, his 13.4 percent walk rate is the highest of his career.
Posey is also boasting a career-high 19.6 percent strikeout rate, but is still very manageable and is the tradeoff for his increased power output (15 homers in just 84 games, his highest number since 2015).
If we judge his offensive performance by wRC+, or weighted Runs Created Plus (an offensive stat that determines whether a player’s production has been above or below-average, and by how much), we see that he is indeed having his best campaign since 2012.
His 151 wRC+ in 2021 indicates that he has produced 51 percent more than the average, and is the second-highest mark of his career behind the 164 he had in 2012.
Posey is approaching four Wins Above Replacement (WAR), at 3.9, and remains a top offensive and defensive catcher for the Giants.
He has been one of the primary reasons why San Francisco has the best record in MLB.
Can he stay healthy and play at a high level for San Francisco to make another run at the World Series with its current core?
Only time will tell.