Thoughts on instinct and the Buster Posey collision

June 5, 2011
I know this is Major League business, but I wanted to get a few thoughts out there that I don't think anyone has brought up yet. By now, I think everyone has seen the horrific crash of Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins and Giants catcher Buster Posey. Of course, Posey was seriously injured in the collision and is out for the season. Last week, Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench said Posey was out of position. From the San Francisco Chronicle:
In an interview with the Tulsa World, Bench said he teaches catchers to move off the plate before a close play to make the runner think about sliding instead of colliding. "But Buster is laying in front of home plate, and it's like having a disabled car in the middle of a four-lane highway. You're just going to get smacked," Bench said. "Show them the plate. You can always catch the ball and step, or step and catch the ball, as long as you've got the runner on the ground. And if you have the runner on the ground, there's less chance of any severe collision."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy disagreed in part, but stated Posey shouldn't have laid his leg in front of the plate. Doing so put him in a bad position to absorb Cousin's blow. Bochy said they practice blocking the plate, but the moment is different in a game situation. Something to think about: during game situations, players usually fall back on instinct. Posey was a shortstop for years before being moved behind the plate in college. He played one season as catcher for the Florida State Seminoles before being drafted by the Giants in 2008. While in the minors, Posey only played 135 games wearing the tools of ignorance. So combining his senior season with his minor league experience with his season in the majors, we are still only looking at less than 500 games. He is far from experienced at the position. If you watch the play, Posey drops his knee as a shortstop would before taking a throw on a stolen base attempt. Of course, runners don't barrel into second base (Albert Belle excluded). They do at home. I recently saw ESPN analysts claim Posey was without blame in the incident. I disagree. Posey's instincts betrayed him. If he does not play the matador role the next time a runner comes head up towards home (ole!), I am sure he will block the plate like a catcher and not like a shortstop. If not, he should probably find another position.

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