Buster Posey can add one more award to his trophy case as the Giants’ catcher ran away with National League MVP honors Thursday, securing 27 of 32 first-place votes.
Posey surged into the race for the award with a scorching run in the second half of the season by hitting .371 from July 1 through the end of the season. That propelled the third-year pro to win the NL batting title with a .336 average to go with a .408 on-base percentage, 24 home runs and 103 RBIs.
That second-half show was just what the Giants needed to carry them to the NL West crown after losing Melky Cabrera to a 50-game suspension on Aug. 15 after the outfielder had led the NL in hitting for the first 4½ months of the season.
“I think as a player, you try to maximize the highs as much as you can,” Posey told MLB Network on Thursday. “And when you’re feeling good, keep that feeling and try to remember what you’re doing so that you can make the necessary adjustments to stay on track.”
The 25-year-old, who was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2010, also won NL Comeback Player of the Year after missing most of the 2011 season with a broken leg and torn ankle ligaments following a collision at home plate.
Similar injuries have altered the careers of players in the past, leaving them shells of their former selves, though Posey rebounded quickly and confidently.
“I think there’s always that doubt in the back of your mind after an injury like that,” Posey said. “But you try your best to take things slow, take it one day at a time, and for me I was excited to be back on the field. I wasn’t looking toward the end of the season. I was just looking at spring training, I was looking at Game 1 and took it slow and I had a blast.”
To do what he did at the plate was impressive enough, but what pushed him ahead of last year’s NL MVP, Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers — who finished second in this year’s vote — may have been his work behind the plate at the most physically demanding everyday position.
“He’s so valuable with the way he catches, handles the staff and hits cleanup while handling all that’s thrown at him,” manager Bruce Bochy said in a statement released by the Giants. “He not only has a huge impact on our lineup, but a bigger impact with the way that he leads by example and we are extremely lucky that he’s a part of our organization.”
The award has now gone to a San Francisco player for the 10th time, five of which went to Barry Bonds. In franchise history, seven Giants players have won the award, dating back to Larry Doyle, who won the second-ever NL MVP in 1912.
Posey’s reaction was caught on live television as the announcement was made on MLB Network. The young star was with his wife, Kristen, and their 15-month-old twins, standing in front of a crowd of friends and family.