Father Time is undefeated.
For so many years, ever since arriving in San Francisco as a rookie, the Giants could count on Buster Posey providing quality at-bats, with some pop in the middle of the order. But as his career has worn on and injuries and surgeries have taken their toll, Posey is clearly no longer anywhere near the impact player he used to be, at least offensively.
That depressing development was never more evident than Posey's first at-bat in the Giants' frustrating 6-4 loss to the Pirates on Monday night, in which Pittsburgh scored four runs in the ninth to steal the victory. Posey, batting second, faced Pirates starter Trevor Williams with a runner on base in the bottom of the first, as Mike Yastrzemski drew a leadoff walk.
But rather than attempt to swing away to try to put a crooked number on the board early, Posey did something we've never seen from him before: He laid down a sacrifice bunt.
In his previous 1,248 games, Posey, he of the .302 career batting average, had never done such a thing. And while Posey successfully advanced Yastrzemski -- who would eventually come around to score on an Evan Longoria RBI single -- to second, the fact that he laid down a bunt to do so -- in the bottom of the first, no less -- was the most obvious sign yet that even the Giants understand he isn't capable of being the impact hitter he used to be.
Now, to be fair, Posey would later add a single, and he's been heating up a bit as of late. He's batting 11-of-27 (.407) over his last seven games and appears to be closing the season strong. However, none of those hits have been of the extra-base variety, and that points to one of the Giants' most pressing issues moving forward.
Posey is batting .257 with six home runs and 35 RBI over 369 at-bats so far this season, with the worst on-base and slugging percentages of his career. He wasn't an All-Star for the first time since 2014, and at this rate, it appears those days are over.
That's not to say Posey doesn't have a significant role to play next year and beyond. As a catcher, one could argue his defensive strengths and ability to manage the pitching staff are more important than his power numbers, and he'll likely absorb even more leadership responsibilities in the wake of Bruce Bochy's departure. But if the Giants are going to take one or more steps forward offensively next season, it seems unwise to count on Posey being a prominent cause of that development.
Posey has had one hell of a career, but he is clearly in the twilight of it now.