Decision 2011: Posey vs Santana

Just minutes after the San Francisco Giants won their first World Series title since moving from New York, I was caught in a Buster Posey debate on Twitter. How high will he rank on draft day and could Indian’s catcher Carlos Santana be the better pick?
San Francisco Giants Buster Posey watches his two-run home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the sixth inning of their MLB baseball game in San Francisco, California September 30, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
There is no taking away what Posey did in 2010. He was worth 3.9 wins above replacement in only 108 games played with the Giants. His .305 AVG and 18 home runs were heaven sent for any owners quick enough to snag him upon his call-up from triple-A. While Posey didn’t have a great postseason, his exposure to a national audience and his place in the batting order are factors that will likely boost his hype heading into draft day 2011.
Then there is Carlos Santana, who came out of the gates crushing (.345, 4 HR in June) only to fall into a slump (aided by a .239 BABIP despite a 21 percent line drive rate in July) and have his season end early with a broken leg. 
Santana and Posey were ranked very closely on just about every prospect guru’s top prospect list in 2010. If we look at the combined numbers (triple-A and MLB) for both players, one could argue that Santana was better overall.
Player

AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

AB/HR

HR/500

Buster Posey

578

0.318

0.419

0.519

0.938

24.1

20.7

Carlos Santana

346

0.292

0.529

0.540

1.069

18.2

27.5

While Posey’s walk rate dropped off at the big league level, Santana’s excelled. He drew 37 walks to only 29 strikeouts in 192 plate appearances with the Indians. Looking at Posey’s home run output would seem to suggest that he was the better power hitter in 2010. However, Santana had the better home run rate and better slugging percentage.
Cleveland Indians catcher Carlos Santana throws out Jason Bay of the New York Mets during the fifth inning of the Indians MLB inter-league baseball game against the Mets in Cleveland, Ohio June 16, 2010. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)
Santana and Posey are great line drive hitters. Both have a minor league track record of hitting for AVG and getting on base while limiting their strikeouts. Posey had the better major league numbers in 2010, but they aren’t without question marks.

If it weren’t for a monstrous month of July, Posey’s overall numbers would be less impressive. That month he hit .417 with seven home runs. A .424 BABIP helped, but Posey also hit a ton of line drives. It’s not that Posey can’t repeat the feat, but it is not something that can be expected to happen again in 2011. Posey hit .259 in June, .282 in August and .233 in September. There is also room to argue that Posey will see a regression in home runs in 2011.  His AB/HR rate with he Giants was his best since a 291 at-bat showing at single-A in 2008. For most of his minor league career, Posey played in the offensive boosting California and Pacific Coast Leagues. San Francisco is obviously not a hitters park and Posey’s .258/6 HR at home to .351/12 HR on the road speak to that. According to Hit Tracker Online, six of Posey’s home runs were classified as “just enough” and two were classified as “lucky”. 
Unfortunately, Carlos Santana’s injury kept his major league splits to limited limited sample sizes. 
These two catchers are going to be outstanding major leaguers and could possibly represent their respective franchises in all-star games annually.

It is going to be interesting to see where each player’s average draft position ends up as we head toward spring training. I would have to believe that as of now Santana goes a few rounds lower than Posey, which makes this an easy call for me. Unless Santana’s knee injury lingers well into spring training, I will continue to rank him ahead of Posey. 
Who do you take on draft day 2011?
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