TOP SEASONS BY CATCHERS BEFORE AGE 24, SORTED BY wRAA:
Obviously this is an impressive slate of names including some notable Hall of Famers in Johnny Bench and notable hairdos in Gary Carter. We also have two active stars in McCann and Mauer well on their way to very impressive careers (at least). But what I found most interesting is that Buster Posey's 2010 season shows up as the closest comp. With the sort of excitement that surrounded Posey's breakout season still fresh in memory, I can only presume that same level of hype followed Fosse's 1970 season just as much. And now, in an eerily bizarre coincidence, Posey has fallen victim to his own career-threatening injury, only a season removed from his break-out, casting his previously lofty expectations into doubt.
Naturally then, I'm led to wonder what this says about our interpretation of history? If Posey never again reaches the level of play he did in 2010 will he show up in future 'could have been' lists? Forty years is a long time, enough time certainly for our memories to inflate the mystique of Posey's season.
And how will we, knowledgeable baseball fanatics, then respond to such an interpretation of history? Will we assure the next generation that Posey was the second-coming of Johnny Bench? Or will we very soundly temper our romanticism of the past? Or will we do neither, and simply lay down and accept our fate as the primary food supply for the tyrannical, obese androids? (I mean, think about it. I imagine they find humans delicious and I imagine that becomes somewhat of a problem for them. Because I certainly imagine they don't get to the gym as often as they should. And then you just have a bunch of overweight, out-of-shape robots going around telling you how "amazing" Buster Posey could have been. Oh man, I don't know about you guys but I'll punch a fat robot right in the face and not think twice about it.)
I did some "research" on Fosse, and by that I mean I looked up his wikipedia page, and even the nameless, faceless author readily admits "the injury is often incorrectly cited as what caused the downfall of Fosse's career," (but in fairness the author then goes on to cite his second-half batting average as an indication that Fosse hadn't lost a step after the collision). But, it can't be ignored, that Fosse's pre/post All-Star Game split certainly does paint quite a bleak picture:
RAY FOSSE 1970
Now, we're all aware we can play games with these splits, and in fact there was a month long stretch, well before the break, which is the alleged drop-off point, where Fosse hit for a pale and sickly .610 OPS. But for kicks, check out the consistency of his batted ball profile before and after the incident. His BAbip remains the same, and his GB/FB ratios remain intact. Clearly, what jumps out here is the colossal plunge Fosse's HR/FB takes. And with that plunge, so went the power, and so Fosse's career.
But unlike Posey, once we dig a bit deeper into Fosse's past we find that there was certainly no indication of the sort of power he exhibited early in 1970 in any of his previous seasons in the minors.
RAY FOSSE MINORS
|AAA (2 seasons)||AAA||178||600||550||62||157||24||4||11||70||3||3||36||90||.285||.335||.404||.739||222||6||6||2|
|A (1 season)||A||116||418||418||127||15||5||1||.304||.304||.371||.675||155|
|AA (1 season)||AA||55||192||178||19||39||3||1||3||11||0||0||14||40||.219||.276||.298||.574||53|
It certainly provides for an interesting narrative, but the the romantic notion that the collision with Charlie Hustle was in fact the catalyst for Fosse's drop in production is likely just a stretch. And in 2055, I will have no problem downplaying the upside of a one Buster Posey right to a robot's face. In fact, I'll look him right in the synthetic eye and tell him to seriously consider a gym membership. And don't wear horizontal stripes, either, I would definitely say that.