Yesterday afternoon Joey Bart came to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with one out. The Giants were down 5-4, desperately needing at least one run to prolong the game, 2 runs to win the game and head off for a postseason series in Los Angeles.
It was a poetic, potentially beautiful moment. After all, Giant‘s Franchise Icon Buster Posey, who plays the same position as Bart, skipped the season. Fans immediately clammored for Bart to take his place. The team was very hesitant but ultimately went for it. And when they went for it, they went all in. Bart was pretty much the main catcher once he arrived.
There were ups and downs. There was tremendous exit velocity, and opposite field power, and plenty of flashes of #2-overall-pick talent.
But there were also rookie mistakes, and the inability to get on the same page with Johnny Cueto, and most of all a general sense of being overmatched by big league pitching.
But all the ups and downs would have been long forgotten if Bart sent a majestic home run into the empty bleachers to tie the biggest game of the year.
But Joey Bart saw just three pitches, missed two of them, and very quickly went back to the dugout, striking out in the most definitive way possible: good morning, good afternoon, good night on three 99 mph fastballs.
In so many ways it was a moment that captured this bizarre little season perfectly. It was fun. There was a lot to be excited about. But this team still has a ways to go to be ready for big time competition and Joey Bart is the embodiment of this truth.
I will spend some time in future posts reviewing the season, the highs and lows, why we should be excited about the future, why we shouldn’t be too bummed at how this season went (preview: we’re in a pandemic, and did you really want to watch this bullpen try to protect a lead against the Dodgers with everything on the line? Ok, I did too, but it probably would have been horrible).
But for now, I leave you with one final thought/question. How would this have been different if Buster Posey was around this year?
Please be clear: in no way am I questioning Posey’s decision. I think he did the right thing, and I think his decision is quite admirable and should be honored.
But from a purely baseball perspective, how many games better would the Giants have been with Posey around? I am convinced that even with this middling pithing staff, Posey gets them to the “magical” 32 win mark.
How might his presence have calmed a chaotic staff? How would his mentorship have shaped Bart’s experience? Would Bart even have been there?
We’ll never know, but it’s an interesting thought experiment.
I’m not bummed with how it all went down. In the pantheon of Giants’ disappointment, I don’t think this even makes the top 10.
But the mission is clear: get some pitchers and pray for Buster’s return!