Bart's hot streak shows he's Giants' catcher of present, future originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants spent $10 million to upgrade their scoreboard three years ago, which was a great move for the organization but a brutal one for any young prospect who gets off to a slow start.
There is no hiding at Oracle Park when you're struggling. If you are hitting .156 in early June, the ugly number is right there in front of you, bigger than you ever could have imagined and in 4K. On more than one occasion this season, manager Gabe Kapler has mentioned how difficult it can be for slumping players to see their numbers displayed like that in every ballpark, but the only way out of that hole is to hit your way out.
The numbers can weigh on Kapler, too, but when he glanced up Monday night, he saw one he loved.
"I look up at the scoreboard and Joey Bart's got a .730 OPS," Kapler said. "I don't know where that ranks in the league among catchers, but it's not bad."
Bart finished the game, a 6-1 win over the Diamondbacks, at .727, which puts him eighth among NL catchers with at least 150 plate appearances. But nobody on that list is climbing faster right now than a player who came into the season with Rookie of the Year aspirations.
Bart has five multi-hit games in his last seven and 14 hits in his last 29 at-bats. He is batting .333 since the All-Star break, raising his average -- which sat at .156 when he was sent down to Triple-A -- to .233. Over the weekend, he bumped his wRC+ above 100, which puts him above league-average as a hitter.
None of that is where Bart ultimately wants to be. He is talented enough to be an All-Star catcher and he has a long way to go to catch guys like Will Smith and J.T. Realmuto. But he has come a long way over the past month, and his teammates can't hide their joy at how quickly he has climbed out of his first-half slump.
"He's had more than half of a season, three-fourths of a season, of constant struggles and you would never know it in the clubhouse, in the dugout, behind the plate. He's never carried anything behind the plate (and) that's a sign of some extreme maturity and confidence that you don't see with guys in their first full season," right-hander Alex Cobb said. "Everybody on the team knows the tools are there. To see him start clicking is just fun. It's almost, like, well deserved. You battled through all this and now you need to go enjoy the positive results you're getting."
The hot streak has solidified Bart's standing as the catcher of the present and future, and it has also helped vault the Giants back into the Wild Card race. Bart's third hit off Madison Bumgarner was a two-run single that left the bat at 111.7 mph and gave the Giants a 6-1 lead. On a night when Camilo Doval was unavailable (rest), the bullpen had some shaky moments, but the Diamondbacks never got any closer.
The Giants picked up a full game on the San Diego Padres, getting to 5 1/2 back. They are healthy at the right time, playing poor teams at the right time, and watching their most talented young position player blossom at the right time.
"It's a pretty comfortable look at this point," Kapler said of Bart. "A pretty confident look."