The second run of the Braves-Giants game last night came on a Freddie Freeman single to right which scored Jason Heyward. But it was a bit more interesting than that.
See, the ball was fielded by Hunter Pence who fired it home, and the ball beat Heyward to the plate by a wide margin. Buster Posey fielded it and attempted to tag Heyward, but he just missed. Or, at the very least, he appeared to have missed, acted as if he missed and then the safe at home call was upheld on replay. Watch here.
My first thought upon seeing that was “well, Heyward is 6’5″ tall, is more athletic than he even seems and just managed to use all of his length and juking ability to contort his way out of being tagged. Tough break for the Giants, but whaddaya gonna do?”
Not everyone agrees with me that it was just a weird play and a tough break. Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com believes this to be a systematic problem for Posey. That, whether it’s his being gun shy at the plate since the Scott Cousins collision in 2011 or whether it’s just a function of Posey’s philosophy on defense, Posey is hesitant to initiate contact on plays at the plate and that he’s hurting his team because of it:
Maybe a catcher doesn’t sign up to be a crash test dummy. But he signs up for contact. He signs up for the occasional collision. And frequently, it’s his job to initiate it.
Posey does not initiate contact. He is taught to stand in front of the plate and reach back, swiping at the runner. At worst, apply the tag with a glancing blow. For the second consecutive Tuesday, Posey needed to do more.
This doesn’t touch on the new impact rules at the plate, given that the ball was there well before and those rules do allow a catcher to block and initiate contact at the plate, even if they do not allow the runner to initiate contact. Rather, this is more about approach and philosophy and maybe toughness, depending on how you feel about such things.
I don’t watch enough Giants games — certainly not as many as Baggarly doees — to know whether this is an issue with Posey. I do wonder, however, whether this sort of play comes up enough to where it’s worth making an issue out of it given Posey’s value to the Giants and how bad off they’d be if he got hurt.