The Debate: Posey Vs. Mauer

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey received plenty of attention for his work as a rookie backstop during the regular season. And on the postseason stage, that exposure has only intensified.

Buster Posey
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey has drawn praise for defense as well as offense. Associated Press photo

After starting the year in the minors, Posey thrust himself into NL Rookie of the Year candidacy by hitting .305 with 18 homers and 67 RBIs in 108 games. From what I’ve read, he provided sound defense. And he consistently hit in the middle of the Giants’ lineup.

Posey had four hits and drove in two runs in Wednesday’s Game 4 of the NLCS against the Phillies, helping to put the Giants in front in the best-of-7 series 3-1. He drove in another run in Thursday’s loss.

He now has 11 career postseason hits, which is one more than Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer has in his career. Posey – just like any young catcher that gets called up – has drawn comparisons to Mauer.

The question I would ask is: If you were starting a big league team and could build around one of these two catchers, which would you choose? Posey or Mauer?

It’s not an easy one to call. Posey has had about 400 big league at-bats, so that’s not exactly a big sample size to judge him. He’s just as likely to endure a sophomore slump next year, or he might put up numbers similar or better than he did this season. You just don’t know.

With Mauer, you pretty much do. Every year, he’s going to be in the batting race. He’s still the only catcher in American League history to win a batting title, and he’s done it three times.

But while Mauer might be the more disciplined hitter, I would say, even now, Posey is the more powerful one. Hitting 18 homers in 400 at-bats in your rookie year is nothing to sneeze at. Mauer has had only one season where he’s hit more than 13, albeit that was an MVP season in 2009 that saw him hit 28.

My answer right now would still be Mauer. But another year like this one from Posey makes that decision a whole lot tougher.

7 Responses

  1. truth harvestor

    It IS a very easy call ! MAUER ! Posey is riding a wave of relative ‘good fortune’ perfect timing , I guess. He is rookie not carrying the expectations of the team and the whole city etc. He also came up with a new healthy body , which is the advantage of almost every rookie. Joe , even though he is still a young man , does have the battle scars of many seasons I still am amazed at the guys like ‘Pudge’ Rod. who did this hard job so much longer. Let Posey do it for 5 more seasons , and only then will any comparisons be relevant . AND if Posey does win a batting title , and have a couple of good seasons He will still probably fall short of Mauer’s 3! and a MVP! You can make a case for Posey because he is young and not battered and beaten , but not much else. Remember the expectations of an athlete can be as much a burden as a nagging injury. If Joe is not superman , the writers tend to be disappointed. When Posey starts wearing his super cape and is not up to snuff , the writers will turn on him too.

  2. I’d still have to go with Mauer due to his experience and consistency. I do think that Posey will eventually be an all-star catcher in a class along with Mauer, but you are absolutely right about a sophomore slump. Once pitchers become more familiar with Posey, they may learn how to pitch to him better. His numbers could see a significant decrease if/when that happens.

    I’ve heard time and time again from managers and pitching coaches saying that when they discuss gameplans with their pitching staff, they usually just skip over Mauer since he is so hard to pitch to. Pretty much just throw the first pitch down the middle and do your best from there. Aside from one year Mauer might not have great power numbers, but he is still a threat and smacks the ball around seemingly where he pleases.

    That also doesn’t mention the work that Mauer does with the Twins’ pitching staff. I haven’t seen a lot of Posey, but I don’t what kind of rapport he has with the Giants pitching staff. That aspect is usually overlooked, but it is a very important part of playing the position as well.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like what Posey brings to the table and I am rooting for the Giants to go to the World Series, but I think Mauer would be the one to build a team around, at least at this stage in their careers.

  3. 00Steve

    I enjoy Mauer’s hitting as much as the next guy, but difference makers are made in the postseason and I just cant handle any more singles and grounders to 2nd base. Posey has already established himself as a postseason stud. In one postseason! Mauer has done less in his 4 postseason appearances.

    And I’m tired of the “Mauer handles the pitching staff so well” mantra. What does that mean? He calls a good game? So the Giants staff is 10x getter than Minnesota’s…does that mean Posey calls a better game? Mauer is MAYBE slightly above average as a defensive catcher. Butera seemed to have little problems throwing out runners this year, something that when Mauer failed to do “it was on the pitcher.”

    Over 162 games I’d take Mauer. But if you need one AB to win a game, or a big hit, I’d take Posey.

    1. There is more that goes into catching than calling a game. Knowing when to go out to talk with them to make adjustments when they are not locating their pitches or calming them down when they get overexcited seems to be a big deal.

      Calling Posey a postseason stud after a handful of games is insane. Yes, he has done a lot to help the Giants win in the postseason, but if you compare Posey’s and Mauer’s stats side-by-side, they are pretty much identical.

      They both played in nine games and have 35 at bats. Posey has one more hit and a couple more RBIs than Mauer, but he also has four more strike outs. Mauer only has one extra base hit (or two if Phil Cuzzi would have made the right call), while Posey has three extra base hits, all doubles. Posey also has a stolen base (in which he was out) , and hit into a double play, which Mauer has yet to do in all of his postseason appearances.

      I won’t even get into the caliber of their opponents either. And for the record, Mauer has only made it to the postseason three times (2006,2009,2010).

  4. I’d have a hard time not taking Mauer simply because he’s an established presence. Even judging postseason numbers, you’re talking pretty small sample sizes. Heroes are made in the playoffs though. It’s an interesting debate.

  5. miteeen

    Well Posey just helped his team win a championship. I bet he called good games. Even Bumgarner said he goes with any call Posey makes, and he pitched a 3-hitter against one of the most potent lineups in the MLB. I’m sure a lot of the credit can be extended to Posey when the Giants can silence the offenses of the Phillies and the Rangers.

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