Buster Posey believes pitching and defense can get the Giants back in contention next year.
Posey sat down with Bleacher Report to discuss his promotion of the product, his future role with the San Francisco Giants, how the club can find a path back to success in 2014 and the emergence of Madison Bumgarner as the staff ace.
On his decision to promote the Body Armor sports drink, Posey said, "As an athlete, you’re always looking for an edge, looking for the best alternative to a sports drink. In doing my research into how Body Armor was made, I felt like it was going to help me. The main thing is superior nutrition and hydration. I think it just gives you the best chance for a sports drink to recover."
Posey also dispensed hitting advice to a Body Armor contest winner. The 2012 National League batting champion and Most Valuable Player talked about the importance of rhythm and timing at the plate.
"That's a big part of hitting, is timing, and having a good rhythm. You don't want to be hitting from a standstill position. There's a lot of different ways to do it. Some guys use a toe-tap, some guys will leg-kick. It's really what's comfortable for you, there's no one way to do it. It's important to make contact, to put pressure on the defense."
The power-hitting Posey is no stranger to contact, as he has the 20th-best strikeout rate in baseball this season.
After a stellar first half that earned him All-Star honors, Posey has slumped. He's hit just .242/.318/.306 with two home runs since the All-Star break. Posey wants to gain strength this winter to finish stronger in 2014.
"To start with, the first thing to do is to let your body recover. Rest a little bit mentally as well. After that, I’ll sit down with our strength coach. He’s probably already come up with a plan of how I can be at my peak level going into the season, and then we’ll talk about what I can do to maintain that throughout the season. I think there will be a few things that I tweak."
Posey has struggled in the second half, and the Giants have had a disappointing season in 2013. After winning the World Series in 2010 and 2012, the club has fallen out of contention this year. Posey believes that pitching and defense are the keys to getting the Giants back on track in 2014.
"I think our strengths are pitching and defense. We have to do the little things right. We have to make the routine plays. We’ve got to take extra bases. We’ve got to be aggressive not only offensively but defensively as well. We’ve got to play with that edge that I feel like we had in 2010 and 2012."
The Giants are just 18th in defensive efficiency and 22nd in ERA this season. However, one pitcher who hasn't had a letdown in 2013 is staff ace Madison Bumgarner.
Posey and Bumgarner came up through the minor leagues together and have been teammates in San Francisco since 2010. Posey talked about Bumgarner's evolution from when Posey first caught the big lefty as a 19-year-old in the California League back in 2009.
"He knows how to pitch now. When I first met him, he was more of a thrower. He could just get away with overpowering guys, which he still can overpower people, but he understands how to set up hitters a little bit more. He can read hitters’ swings better. It’s going to be really exciting to watch him over the next few years."
Posey also talked about the importance of pitch selection as a catcher.
"There is a balance [between using scouting reports as opposed to instincts]. Some teams more than others for scouting reports—teams that are in your division that you know pretty well, you might not look at scouting reports as much. But I’m always a big believer in trusting your instincts. It’s the major leagues, guys are going to make adjustments, they might not do the same thing from one game to another, or for that matter from one at-bat to another at-bat."
Posey also discussed his future role with the Giants. After suffering a catastrophic leg injury that wiped out his 2011 season, Posey has been spending more time at first base. He's started at catcher 226 times compared to 45 games at first base since the start of last season. However, he has no plans to move off the catcher position entirely.
"I’m planning to catch as long as I can. I was lucky that I didn’t start catching until my second year of college, so there’s not as much wear and tear on me as someone who has been doing it their whole life. Hopefully, I can do it for my whole career."
As for the 2013 playoffs—which the Giants won't be participating in—Posey believes that the formula used by the Giants in 2010 and 2012 is the best path to a championship.
"I think it’s the team that catches fire at the right time. The team that pitches well—I think if you’ve got some good pitching, you can ride that a long ways. Then I think it’s a matter of having clutch hitting."
The Giants won't be able to defend their title in 2013, but with a stronger Posey leading the way next year, they'll have a chance to get back on track. Posey has already led the club to two championships in his five-year career.
The Giants wisely locked him up last winter via a nine-year, $167 million deal that includes a club option for 2022. Thus, the future of the organization is largely in the hands of the 26-year-old franchise player. If the beginning of his career is any guide, the Giants are in great hands.