SAN FRANCISCO — His performance suggests he still has plenty left to offer and his stat line indicates he’s still one of the best catchers in baseball, but Buster Posey doesn’t plan to continue building his legacy.
The longtime Giants catcher and anchor of three World Series championship clubs announced he will retire from baseball on Thursday at Oracle Park.
“It’s such a unique opportunity to publicly thank so many people that helped me get here, help me stay here and help me fulfill a lifelong dream playing Major League Baseball,” Posey said at the beginning of a 15-minute speech in which he acknowledged his wife Kristen, his four children and various members of the organization.
Posey was joined at the podium by Giants chairman Greg Johnson, CEO Larry Baer and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi, who jokingly asked: “I don’t know if this is the right time for it, but is this a definite, for sure thing?”
Posey, 34, is stepping away following the best regular season in franchise history and one of the best individual seasons of his storied career. The seven-time All-Star is expected to win his fifth Silver Slugger Award next week as he hit .304 with 18 home runs and an .889 OPS while leading the Giants to a club-record 107 victories.
“I went into this last season feeling like it might be my last,” Posey said. “I just gave myself some space in my mind to be okay with deciding otherwise if I wanted to keep playing. I just really never wavered. I think it really allowed me to, not that you don’t give it your all, but I really emptied the tank this year like I never have before.”
Posey essentially bookended his career with NL West titles won on the last day of the regular season as he assumed the starting catcher job in 2010 and helped San Francisco clinch its first playoff berth since 2003. Eleven years later, Posey led the Giants to the third division crown of his tenure by going 2-for-4 with a walk and three RBIs in an 11-4 win over the Padres that allowed the club to finish one game ahead of the 106-win Dodgers.
Throughout his major league career, Posey often discussed his desire to be a healthy and caring father for his children in his life after baseball, including after he sustained multiple concussions that forced him to the injured list.
Posey dealt with several major injuries throughout his career including a gruesome leg injury following a collision at home plate in 2011 involving Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins. The late May collision led to a broken fibula and ligament damage in Posey’s ankle that forced him to miss the remainder of the regular season.
“The reason I’m retiring is I want to be able to do more stuff from February to November with my family,” he said Thursday. “Physically, it’s much harder now. It’s hard to enjoy it as much when there’s physical pain you’re dealing with on a daily basis. I halfway joke with our training staff about being done five years ago, but I don’t know how far of a stretch that’s really off.”
Posey dealt with lingering effects from the injury over the course of his career, but reached his peak upon returning to the field as he won the 2012 NL MVP and the batting title while leading the Giants to their second World Series in three seasons.
“I’ll never forget seeing Buster in the clubhouse the night of his injury,” Giants CEO Larry Baer said. “And then tracking over time his unbelievable commitment and the amazing work of our training staff and doctors and climbing that mountain back the next year to MVP batting champ and of course another championship.”
The Florida State product also underwent hip surgery in August 2018 to repair a torn labrum that made catching and using his lower body while hitting far more difficult. After returning in 2019 and posting career-lows in batting average, home runs and OPS, Posey chose to sit out the truncated 2020 season after he and Kristen adopted identical newborn twins in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.
“I realized we were lost,” Zaidi said of playing a season without Posey. “I don’t think I fully appreciated and maybe all of us fully appreciated it until we had you back this year.”
Despite significant uncertainty about his ability to regain the form he showed early in his career, Posey reestablished himself as one of the best catchers in the majors in a remarkable 2021 campaign that led to his second NL Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Now, he’s walking away. And despite the promise of more success in the future, he’s making the decision on his own terms.
“I can honestly say no, playing the way I did didn’t sway me,” Posey said. “That’s part of the reason I do feel at peace with my decision.”