Regardless of what you think about the play at home plate that fractured the leg of Giants catcher Buster Posey, there is no denying that the injury will have a significant impact on how the National League playoff race shakes out.
Although Posey wasn't having the same type of success at the plate this season as he did in his rookie campaign, he was the least replaceable player on the defending champions' roster. Before the injury, Posey had accumulated 87 percent of the plate appearances by San Francisco catchers this season, leaving reserve Eli Whiteside to play the role of a well-paid cheerleader. The Giants have to replace not only their starting catcher but also a player who almost never took a day off.
Filling those shoes will be no easy task, and depending on which path they choose (and how quickly Posey can heal), that play just might determine whether the Giants will win the National League West. How much of a drop-off will the team suffer between Posey and his replacement?
Posey projected to be worth approximately 4.0 wins above replacement over the rest of the 2011 season assuming the Giants kept him in the lineup at roughly the same pace they had so far. Although it's unknown whether the injury will sideline him for the rest of the season, for our purposes, we'll work off the assumption that he is done for the year. You can adjust the differences downward slightly if you believe he'll be able to return at the end of the summer.
Here's a look at a few different options and how their projected performances compare to Posey's.