Let’s talk about the best thing you can talk about: Matt Cain and Buster Posey.
The Giants lost in maddening fashion today, so let’s avoid that all together. In that loss, though, Matt Cain gave up an opposite-field home run, something he very seldom does. (More evidence can be found here.) In fact, it was only the second he’d given up. Ever. That’s right, Desmond added himself to the long list of hitter
s who have taken him past the opposite-field wall. joining such name s as Mark Reynolds. If we’re taking a poll on who might be lucky number three, I’ll take Matt Kemp. Seriously, make your pick in the comments.
But AT& T Park giveth and AT&T Park taketh away.
That’s what I really wanted to write about. I wanted to write about Buster Posey and how seemingly difficult it’s been for him to hit at AT&T Park to this point in his career, especially for power. Case and point: Posey has 10 home runs in 2012, nine of which came on the road. And Posey has hit 32 big flies in his career, only eight of which landed in the seats at AT&T. He’s had a rather rough go of it.
Posey has tremendous power when hitting from center to right field, so it’s also somewhat surprising that only six of his 32 home runs have been opposite-field blasts. Well, surprising until you, again, consider where he plays half his ballgames. According to ESPN Stats and Info Group, only 25 home runs have been hit to the opposite field from the right side of the plate in the history of AT&T Park. That’s insane. That’s about two per season, or one every 40 games or so.
Looking at his spray chart, one can easily see that Posey has made a ton of outs to center or right field at home this season. When pulling the ball to left, though, he’s basically never made an out. One has to believe that his opposite-field approach just isn’t doing him any favors in his “friendly” home yard.
Parsing through his career splits paints a similar picture. He’s slashed .273/.339/.401 at home with a 100 wRC+; he’s been average (for a hitter, of course, not a hitting catcher). Meanwhile, he’s pounded the ball all over opposing yards to a .313/.371/.518 line and a 142 wRC+ — way above average for a player at any position.
If one were to take but a glance at what he’s done in 2012 to date, they might come to the conclusion that he’s turning that fortune around. They’d be wrong. While his wRC+ is seven points better than on the road at 131, that’s mostly because of his .385 BABiP (to .257 on the road). His ISO (isolated power), at .234, is more than double what he’s posted in The City (.105).
We’re also looking at a pretty small sample here, and really a relatively small sample over his entire career. Buster played a bit more than a half season in 2010, a couple of months in 2011, and we’re not yet to the All-Star break in ’12. What’s more, catchers are just going to have fewer plate appearances (he’s had fewer than 1,000) than most other spots on the diamond; though, to his credit, Buster can play a decent first base and the Giants have smartly placed him there to keep his bat in the lineup, doubly smart on a team that’s had its fair share of trouble scoring runs.
It’s just too bad that one of the baseball’s greatest young hitters and players happens to play in a park that’s, well, just not all that suited for his particular skill set, a park that just so happens to be one of the greatest in the world.
Millwaukee, however? He’d probably do pretty okay there. Tough to argue with this video.
Can’t have him, Brewers fans. Quit looking at him. Seriously, stop it. He’s ours. Walk away. Walk. Away.
It’ll be interesting if he adjusts his approach at home given how difficult it is to drive the ball to right as a right-handed (or really any) hitter with much success. I would guess that he won’t really, simply because his overall approach is an excellent one, and adjusting it between homestands and road trips would seem an ill-advised exercise.
All that said, I wouldn’t trade AT&T Park or Posey for anything.
Oh, and here he is in one of ESPN’s latest commercials.