Spin Doctors: Buster Posey vs. Gary Sanchez

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/8578/" data-ylk="slk:Buster Posey">Buster Posey</a> or Gary Sanchez, who do you got? (Getty Images)
Buster Posey or Gary Sanchez, who do you got? (Getty Images)

Scott Pianowski and Dalton Del Don debate catchers during the 2017 debut of Spin Doctors. 

DDD defends Sanchez: To be clear, I’m a huge Giants fan, and Buster Posey is easily one of my favorite players ever. So this debate pains me, but Sanchez simply possesses more fantasy upside entering 2017. I get that Sanchez outperformed his minor league numbers during his MLB debut last year, and it’s always risky banking on a small track record, but this sample we are talking about is 20 homers in 201 at bats. This is a pretty significant performance that’s still impressive even with regression obviously assumed. Posey plays first base at times when lefties are facing the Giants, but Sanchez has the benefit of the DH when rest behind the plate is needed, and he’s slated to hit in the middle of a lineup that’s projected to score a decent amount of more runs by most systems.

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This is actually simple — Yankee Stadium has increased home runs for right-handed batters by 25 percent over the past three seasons (tied with Coors Field for the most in MLB), while AT&T Park has decreased homers by 26 percent for RHB over that span (the most in MLB), and while Posey has developed into one of the best framers among all catchers in baseball, his mileage at the toughest position to play is adding up. Let me reiterate just how much I love Posey, who won Rookie of the Year, NL batting champ, Comeback Player of the Year, MVP and was a two-time World Series champ all within the first three years of his career.

But his career-high in home runs is 24. Sanchez hit 20 homers in 201 at bats last season! He also had a 10.5 BB% and a 171 wRC+ that matched Mike Trout’s league-leading number had he qualified. I have Sanchez over Posey in a vacuum and given his ADP is a round later makes it a no brainer.

Pianowski parks it on Posey: First of all, I’m not going to automatically assume the Yankees outscore the Giants. Last year, San Francisco beat them by 35 runs. The Yankees offense still has plenty of questions and pitfalls. Tell me what I’m missing about Chase Headley, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks. Are Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Matt Holliday hooked up to some kind of time machine?

If all you care about is home runs and shiny new toys, sure, pick Sanchez. Ignore that Posey has a career .307/.374/.476 slash line, or an .828 OPS over the last three years. Ignore the reliable floor. Other than his injury-marred 2011 season, Posey has been very good or great in each of his pro seasons. There’s a resume here, a track record.

Sanchez was a behemoth after his promotion last year, but how come he wasn’t nearly as good in the minors? His career in the bush leagues produced a .275/.339/.460 slash, with 99 homers in 636 games, His Triple-A line was impressive (.286/.342/.478, 16 homers), but nothing remotely close to what Sanchez did in the majors. What’s an outlier, kids?

Ultimately, it comes down to adjustments. Although Sanchez’s pop was constant in the final two months, remember he batted just .225 in September, with 35 strikeouts in 102 at-bats. He’s not going to sneak up on anyone this year (pitchers no longer will blindly challenge him with fastballs), and the level of pressure and expectation is also ratcheted up. I don’t like aggressively paying for a player who needs to hit the high end of his range to justify the ADP cost, and that’s what Sanchez looks like to me, flying off the board around Pick 54 (and remember, my esteemed colleague says he’ll take Sanchez over Posey no questions asked, no matter what the ADP is).

If you want to play the value game at catcher, I point you to Jonathan Lucroy, waiting quietly at Pick 84. Small-sample sophomores can break your heart. Baseball isn’t nearly as easy as it was for Sanchez last year. But if I have to take a name-brand, vanity catcher, Posey’s level of consistency carries the day. Resume matters. Floor matters. We can be an upside-chasing hero later in the draft.

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