HOUSTON -- An offensively talented catcher establishes himself in the Major Leagues. His diverse skills make him an extremely valuable performer. But common sense dictates that he ultimately should move to another position to maximize his hitting prowess.
That summarizes Buster Posey's situation with the Giants as they debate, mostly in private, when and whether to make him a first baseman. If anybody knows the impact a position switch can make, it's Craig Biggio, the ex-Astro who's on the upcoming Hall of Fame ballot.
Biggio finished his 20-year career, which he spent entirely in Houston, with 3,060 hits. He became a second baseman in 1992 after primarily catching through his first four big league seasons. Though he won a Silver Slugger trophy and made an All-Star team behind the plate, he truly flourished at second base. He made six All-Star teams, won four Gold Glove awards, twice led the National League in runs scored, earned four more Silver Slugger awards and finished among the top 10 in Most Valuable Player voting three times once he shed his catcher's gear.
Unlike Posey, Biggio can look back on his playing days and comprehend the effects of his conversion.
"It was the best thing that ever happened to me and the best thing that ever happened to the Houston Astros," Biggio said. "But in the beginning, it was a tough decision to make, because I loved [catching] so much."
Biggio acknowledged that catching's rigors can be hazardous to a hitter.
"It's vivid in my mind," he said. "In my last at-bat [of a game as a catcher], I didn't give it up. But you're tired, you're beat up, you're exhausted. I remember going into my last at-bat playing infield, I felt great. I felt like I did in my first at-bat. So the physical wear and tear and the grinding take its toll on you. Especially at this time of the year."
Biggio endorsed the Giants' occasional use of Posey at first base.
"I like the idea of trying to give him a little bit of a break and put him there," Biggio said. "That's really, really smart."
Biggio refrained from offering an opinion regarding what the Giants should do with Posey. But he did offer encouragement.
"It'll be a tough decision for them to make. But if anybody knows, Boch does," Biggio said, referring to manager Bruce Bochy. "I have the utmost respect for him. He's an unbelievable manager."