2014 Fantasy Bust Candidate: Buster Posey

Thearon W. Henderson

Ray opines that Buster Posey could be a fantasy bust in 2014. Yes, the #1 fantasy catcher in most rankings right now could be a bust for his owners in 2014.

There aren't many better hitting fantasy catchers than Giants backstop Buster Posey. On a year in year out basis, his owners can count on him putting up a .300 batting average with 15-20 home runs, 70 runs and 70 RBI most years. Last season, he hit .294-.371-.450 with 15 home runs, 61 runs and 72 RBI in 595 plate appearances. His strikeout rate dropped to a career low of 11.8%, while his walk rate also dropped from 11% to 10%. All very good signs for the soon-to-be 27 year old catcher.

Here is how his 2013 performance stood up against other fantasy catchers with 350 or more plate appearances in 2013:

Batting average: 3rd

Runs:7th

HR: 10th

RBI: 7th

We won't look at stolen bases because that is not something most catchers do, or are expected to do. So, he had a very good year at the plate in 2013, but that was down from his 2012 season where he hit .336 with 24 home runs and drove in 103 runs. His 2013 could have been much better had he not slumped in the second half of the season.

Man, did he ever slump. Let's take a look at his 2013 first and second half splits, courtesy of Baseball-Reference:

Split G AB R H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB BAbip tOPS+ sOPS+
1st Half 90 323 38 105 27 13 56 35 41 .325 .395 .536 .931 173 .337 126 158
2nd Half 58 197 23 48 7 2 16 25 29 .244 .333 .310 .643 61 .272 59 84

I am not sure how to explain his performance absolutely cratering in the second half last season. He went from hitting .325-.395-.536 with 13 HRs, 38 runs and 56 RBI in the first half to just .244-.333-.310 with 2 HRs, 23 runs and 16 RBI in the second half. Granted he played 32 less games in the second half, but TWO home runs in 58 games? A .310 slugging percentage? I bet there are some pitchers who had a higher slugging percentage in the second half last year than Posey.

He went from 41 extra base hits in the first half to just 9 in the second half. His OPS dropped from .931 to .643. HIs .310 SLG was so bad it ranked with the likes of Eric Young Jr., Jean Segura (he had a terrible second half too), Jonathan Villar and Jonathan Solano. Yeah, it was that bad.

I guess one could argue that all the playoff and World Series games from 2012, along with the 148 games he played in 2013 caught up to him. That's possible. He also caught 121 games, per Baseball-Reference, the most games he has caught in any one year of his short career.

The second half, for me, is concerning, as even though he played through a small fracture of his right ring finger for most of September, his power disappeared. Here are his monthly power stats for July - September:

July: 2 HRs, 5 doubles, 11 RBI, 24 games

August: 0 HRs, 3 doubles, 8 RBI, 26 games

September: HR, 3 doubles, 5 RBI, 21 games

And fantasy owners appear to be overlooking his second half power outage.

Posey is currently being drafted as the #1 fantasy catcher according to the current NFBC ADP rankings over at NESN.com. The NFBC ADP rankings assume 15 team leagues, and his ADP right now is 39.75, with a high pick of 26 and a low pick of 73. Picking Posey at 26 seems way too high for my blood as I prefer drafting an outfielder or a first baseman in the early rounds, and I would even consider drafting a starter like Yu Darvish, Adam Wainwright or Cliff Lee ahead of Posey. There is a long list of hitters I would take over Posey, so at 26, or even 39, is just too high for anyone to draft a catcher. Even with the new rules preventing runners from bowling over the catcher Pete Rose style.

Here is a list of players that have a lower ADP than Posey per NESN.com:

Jose Bautista

Shin-Soo Choo

Chris Sale

Felix Hernandez

Alex Rios

Albert Pujols

Justin Upton

I might be the President of the Don't Draft Albert Pujols Club, but I think I would draft Pujols before Posey. There are just too many other good catchers that can put up similar, or better, power numbers than Posey. And there are a few who can hang with Posey in terms of batting average as well, including Joe Mauer, Yadier Molina, Jonathan Lucroy and Salvador Perez. Then you have some up-and-coming catchers like Jason Castro, Wilin Rosario and Lucroy who could put up more power and drive in more runs than Posey in 2014 to offset the difference, albeit slight, in the batting average category.

Posey could make me look silly for writing this, but catching is deeper than I can ever remember, and there is a pack of catchers behind him that could outperform him in 2014. Don't pick Posey thinking he will put up another 2012 season. I just don't see that happening again, not with the way the Giants roster is currently constructed.

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