San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey is one of my favorite players, perhaps my favorite in all of the National League. He's been terrific fun to watch ever since his days at Florida State University, and he's certainly met and exceeded any reasonable expectation that people had for him when he was a prospect.
Long ago, we used to run a feature here at Minor League Ball called the Crystal Ball. The basic idea was to take a prospect, major league rookie, or second-year player, and project out their career with some fake stats. It was NOT based on a formula, formal projection system, or anything especially sabermetric except past knowledge of similar players. Indeed, all manner of caveats were attached to the Crystal Balls. They were not intended as predictions, but rather were meant to stimulate discussion about a player. Sometimes the CB deliberately under-shot or over-shot reasonable expectations, for the expressed purpose of getting people to talk.
For a variety of reasons, the Crystal Ball feature was shelved a couple of years ago. But I did one on Buster Posey back in September of 2010, and the results are interesting in light of what actually happened. I'm sorry about the rough formatting in the old article, but you can find the link here or on the sidebar below this paragraph.
Now, many of the Crystal Balls turned out to be completely wrong of course. But this one was damn close: it said that Posey would play 145 games in 2014, hit .310 with 20 homers, 28 doubles, 69 walks, and 68 strikeouts in 513 at-bats. In real life, Posey played 147 games in 2014, hit .311 with 22 homers, 28 doubles, 47 walks and 69 strikeouts in 547 at-bats. The walks were off, but everything else was very, very close. Even unpredictable RBI was on the money: 90 was the made-up number, the reality was 89.
The Crystal Ball also said that Posey would hit .332 with 100 RBI in 552 at-bats in 2012. In reality he hit .336 with 103 RBI in 530 at-bats. If more of the CBs had been that close, I might never have shelved the concept.
Anyway, fake projections or not, Posey is one of my favorites because he's just so damn good. He has 23.5 fWAR through 603 games; if his career ended today, he would rank 68th on the WAR list of catchers, which may not sound that good until you realize that every catcher ahead of him on the list has at least 1000 more plate appearances than Posey, in most cases far more.
Through age 27, his Sim Score list is Gabby Hartnett, Victor Martinez, Matt Nokes, Javy Lopez, Ian Desmond, Stephen Drew, J.J. Hardy, Miguel Tejada, Jose Vido, and Barry Larkin. That's a really strange-looking list: it includes more infielders than catchers, which shows you just how unique a player that Posey is.