Buster Posey is having an amazing rookie season at the plate, hitting .341/.388/.519 with nine homers, 26 total extra-base hits, and 45 RBIs in 71 games, but Giants announcer (and longtime big-league pitcher) Mike Krukow hasn’t been very impressed with the 23-year-old’s work behind the plate.
During a game earlier this week reliever Jeremy Affeldt allowed a Raul Ibanez triple and Krukow opined on the air that “Posey tipped that pitch.” Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle later asked him to expand on the comment and here’s what Krukow told him:
What happened there, it was a 3-2 count, and Posey shook his head as Affeldt looked in for the sign. When a catcher does that, he’s not shaking off a pitch. He just wants to have the pitcher shake his head, like he’s going to get inside the hitter’s head. Well, 99 times out of 100, a fastball is coming. We [in the broadcast booth] figured Utley relayed the pitch to Ibanez. He’d been late on Affeldt’s fastball the whole at-bat, but he jumped all over that one.
What ticks me off, this stuff may work in high school, but never up here. I’m not trying to single out Posey at all. You see this all over the big leagues. I see guys that are just outright cartoons back there. It’s an aspect of the catching position that has eroded over the years, and it’s costly.
Krukow also laid out another situation where Posey made a mistake by “slapping the ground with his glove before a pitch, indicating he wanted something down low in the dirt”:
Now, why would you do that? Now you’re tipping off the curveball. You never ask for a fastball in the dirt, and nobody asks for a curveball around the shoulders. It’s just like when a catcher raises up his glove for the elevator fastball at the shoulders. You never signal a high target for a breaking ball, so the hitter knows a fastball’s coming there. This is stuff that can easily be picked up not only by the runner, but by the first- or third-base coach.
Krukow is one of my favorite announcers and I have no doubt the issues he brings up are accurate, but I’m also not sure they’ve really mattered all that much. Giants pitchers have a 3.79 ERA with Posey behind the plate, compared to 3.53 overall. Sure, maybe the mistakes that Krukow points out are to blame for a 0.26-run difference, but 0.26 runs is also well within the range of “random” and very dependent on which pitchers he’s caught. And a 3.79 ERA is still pretty damn good.