The Giants began the 2021 season with little fanfare in a division that was supposed to be dominated by behemoths in Los Angeles and San Diego. All manager Gabe Kapler's team did was obliterate every projection system, win a franchise-record 107 games and stop the Dodgers' eight-year streak of NL West titles — and because the Dodgers won 106 games, the epic division race went down to the last game of the regular season.
Although it stung to lose to their archrivals in a controversial NLDS Game 5, the Giants enter this season with plenty of belief and momentum. But they'll have to replace their unofficial soul and franchise catcher, Buster Posey, after he announced his surprising retirement.
Opposing Scouts Size Up the Giants
"I still can't figure out how they won 107 games; they're very good, but they're due for a regression, especially without Buster Posey. Joey Bart has been the heir apparent, but he's a polarizing player around the league; there's a lot of swing-and-miss there, and how well can he handle a staff? They did a great job using the whole roster to keep everyone fresh, and they'll have to rely on that formula again with mid-30s guys like Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria and Darin Ruf. Alex Cobb was the right kind of pitcher for them to sign; he's a bright veteran who is receptive to their ideas, and this regime works wonders with guys like that. Logan Webb has tremendous command, keeps guys off-balance and has that old-school bulldog mentality. If Camilo Doval has his command, he'll be a dominant closer for a long time. Their other bullpen guys don't strike out a ton of hitters, but Gabe Kapler always seems to put them in position to succeed. That's the job of a manager, and he's evolved into one of the best."
Beyond the Box Score
Out on top Few players in MLB history have retired at the heights that Buster Posey did. After opting out in 2020 to care for prematurely born twins, Posey reestablished himself as one of the game's top hitters this past season. His 18 home runs were the most he had hit since 2015, and his .889 OPS was his best since his MVP season in 2012. Perhaps an even bigger contribution was his defense and leadership. Why step away? "I went into this season feeling it might be my last," Posey said. "I gave myself some space in my mind to be OK with deciding otherwise. And I just never really wavered. I think it allowed me to really, really empty the tank like I never have before."
More on Buster He added to his legacy and might have solidified his Hall of Fame candidacy with a strong final playoff series that included catching two shutouts in the Giants' two victories. Posey retires as baseball's all-time leader with 14 postseason shutouts caught, well ahead of Yadier Molina (eight) and Yogi Berra (seven). Posey caught a shutout in nearly a quarter (24.1 percent) of the 58 postseason games that he started behind the plate.