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Buster Posey Opts Out of 2020 MLB Season; Joey Bart’s Rookie of the Year Odds Still as Long as +2200

Buster Posey at the plate
Thanks Buster Posey's longevity, it's been 10 years since the SF Giants entered a season with a question mark at catcher. Photo by Ian D'Andrea (wikimedia commons).
  • Former National League MVP Buster Posey has opted out of the 2020 MLB season due to health risks to his newborns
  • The absence of the longtime Giants catcher opens a spot in the starting lineup, potentially for rookie Joey Bart
  • The #2 pick in 2018, Bart has never even taken an at-bat in Triple-A and still sits at +2133 on average in the ROY odds

On Friday, 2012 National League MVP Buster Posey announced he is sitting out the 2020 MLB season. Posey cited the health risks playing would pose to his newborn children – a pair of twin girls who were born six weeks prematurely earlier in the day.

The departure of Bosey leaves the catcher position in the San Francisco Giants opening day lineup in doubt, something no one has been able to say for a decade.

The buzz now is that 2018 #2-overall pick Joey Bart will get the nod as San Fran’s starter. Bart has long been on the radar for the 2020 National League MVP odds, but has always been down the list a ways.

2020 National League Rookie of the Year Odds

Player (Team) NL ROY Odds
Gavin Lux (IF, LAD) +200
Dylan Carlson (OF, STL) +917
Carter Kieboom (3B, WAS) +967
Mitch Keller (P, PIT) +1050
MacKenzie Gore (P, SD) +1133
Dustin May (P, LAD) +1200
Brendan Rodgers (2B, COL) +1367
Jon Duplantier (P, ARI) +1833
Nico Hoerner (IF, CHC) +1867
Christian Pache (OF, ATL) +1867
Sixto Sanchez (P, MIA) +2000
Joey Bart (C, SF) +2133

Odds as of July 10th.

Bart is the #14-overall prospect in baseball according to MLB.com. Baseball Prospectus isn’t quite as high on the Georgia Tech product, rating him #29.

Will Bart Get the Start?

Bart is an elite prospect at catcher, but he is still just that: a prospect.

Giants president of baseball operations, Farhan Zaidi, stated to ESPN that they don’t want to rush the 23-year-old. “[Live batting practice is] not really a substitute for getting the hundred, 200, 300 at-bats … in Double-A and Triple-A where you get a much better sense of whether a guy’s capable of handling Major League pitching on a day in, day out basis,” Zaidi elaborated.

At the same time, the only two healthy catchers currently listed on the Giants depth chart are 30-year-old Rob Brantly (career 127 GP, .229/.294/.332) and 29-year-old Tyler Heineman (career 5 GP, .273/.273/.636).

 

Brantly only borderline meets the definition of “veteran” and, the way Bart was mashing in Spring Training (see above) before the COVID-19 shutdown, he certainly has the highest upside of the three, even as a rookie. In 19 plate appearances in early March, he hit .438/.526/.875 with two homers and a double.

Will the Giants Try to Win?

If this were a full season, the answer to that would be a firm “no”. The Giants franchise would be using this season as a step in their rebuild. That would be especially true without Posey. Don’t forget that the team shipped key parts of its excellent bullpen at the trade deadline last year (Sam Dyson, Mark Melancon) and then had Bay Area legend Madison Bumgarner and All-Star closer Will Smith walk in free agency.

FanGraphs projects San Francisco to bring up the rear in the NL West with a 27-33 record and -30 run differential in the shortened season.

It’s the nature of shorter seasons that could give longshots like San Francisco some hope. As they showed in July last year – when they went 19-6 – even talent-poor rosters can get hot for a couple months. But unless they jump out to a quick start in 2020, this team will not be in “win-now” mode.

Adding in the comments from Zaidi about not wanting to rush their blue-chippers, there is really no reason to think that Bart will move to the top of the depth chart, depleted though it is. The team already stated they will be looking to add another catcher, and it’s likely that player-to-be-named later who will wind up behind the plate when the Giants visit the LA Dodgers on July 23rd.

Don’t rush out to bet on Bart for Rookie of the Year at +2200. His chances have not significantly changed.

 

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