The day Giants fans have dreaded has arrived. News broke late on Wednesday November 3rd that Buster Posey’s retirement is upon us.
Cliches like ‘end of an era’ can be thrown around. On this occasion, it’s not misty-eyed or over-the-top to utter such phrases. The fate of baseball in San Francisco changed with the arrival of a fresh-faced catcher from Leesburg, Georgia.
Posey’s decision to retire was a surprise to the baseball world with the former MVP coming off a Comeback Player of the Year campaign in which he led the San Francisco Giants to their most regular season wins in franchise history.
Buster Posey retirement
Posey is leaving $22 million on the table. He’s calling time on a 12-year big-league career which saw him achieve everything there is to achieve in Major League Baseball. He’s going out on his own terms, at the very top of the game. With an OPS+ of 140 in 2021, Posey put in the fourth-best hitting season to end a career since the Second World War.
Having been through a gruesome leg injury and hip surgery with numerous concussions, Posey is all-too aware of the risks of catching 100+ games a year. The long-term health concerns are very real. It’s not hard to grasp how Posey came to this decision, and there have been hints that this was possible from Farhan Zaidi and Posey himself over the last few weeks, yet it was still a shock. Giants fans thought they had at least one more year of their icon driving balls into right-center and marshalling the pitching staff.
While a fourth ring would’ve been the perfect ending, this isn’t far off. Posey had his best season at the plate since 2014. He helped the Giants get back to the playoffs, and his final home run was an opposite field shot off Walker Buehler in the playoffs.
Posey isn’t one who craves the limelight. A year-long farewell tour would never have been his sort of thing. And after a couple of years where he looked well past his peak, he manages to walk away from the game leaving Giants fans wanting more.
Is Buster Posey a Hall Of Famer?
Yes. This shouldn’t be complicated. Posey’s counting stats might not be quite where voters usually like them to be, but he was elite at his position for a decade. He won an MVP and ranks 10th all-time in catcher bWAR at his seven-year peak.
Posey mastered framing. No one was better at managing a pitching staff. The Giants do not win three World Series in five years with even an above-average catcher.
How hard it is to get into Cooperstown is a topic for another time, but there should be no doubt about Posey. Chris Cwik gave some context to just how far ahead of his peers Posey was throughout his career.
The best catcher of the 21st century should be a no-debate, first-ballot Hall Of Famer. Playing only 1371 games and recording a mere 1500 hits should not matter.
The legacy in San Francisco and beyond
Even for a franchise with more than its fair share of all-time greats, Gerald Dempsey Posey stands alone. No one will wear 28 again. The statue will stand alongside Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey, and Willie Mays.
Buster Posey statue idea: arms out for a hug, so fans can take pictures getting their own Buster Hug. #sfgiants
— Tylor (@thatguytylor) November 3, 2021
The Hall Of Fame debate has already started, and will no doubt be divisive. For now, though, Giants fans can binge on Posey highlights – the Grand Slam in the 2012 NLDS being a particular favorite – and we can appreciate a player who achieved the rarest of baseball feats: Ending an all-time career on his own terms, while still playing at an elite level.