On the road to the Giants’ 2010 championship, Buster Posey was the Most Valuable Player on the team. The rookie batted cleanup and was the catcher for a pitching staff that was outstanding.
He was in the middle of everything. Pitchers’ meetings. Hitters’ meetings. Probably even coaches’ meetings. For a first-year big-leaguer, he had the baseball acumen of a grizzled veteran.
But he didn’t arrive in the majors until that May, so the only award for which he was a candidate was Rookie of the Year, which he won over Atlanta’s Jason Heyward. The MVP went to Cincinnati’s Joey Votto.
In 2011, Posey sustained season-ending injuries in a home-plate collision in May. The NL MVP was Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun.
Now it’s 2012, and Posey’s name is being tossed around as an MVP candidate for the first time. And why not? He’s leading the Giants’ charge to the postseason and is playing at such a high clip that he’s making fans forget about two things:
1. Posey’s playing status as a regular this year had been iffy after he underwent two surgeries on his right ankle and one on his right leg.
2. Melky Cabrera no longer is a Giant.
Cabrera was the Giants’ best player in the first half and seemed too good to be true as an all-around left fielder. In retrospect, he was. His positive test for synthetic testosterone warranted a 50-game suspension and made his 51 hits in May and All-Star Game MVP a bit less special.
Meantime, Posey continues to succeed. As the Giants and Dodgers open another series today, perhaps the biggest series of the year in the NL West, he’s hitting .382 since the All-Star break, tops in the majors, with nine homers and 43 RBIs. On the season, the numbers are .325, 19 and 85.
He also has a .400 on-base percentage, and his 15 game-winning RBIs are tied for second in the league.
The leading MVP candidate is Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, who’s hitting .345 with 24 homers and 83 RBI. He leads the league in hits and runs and sports a .408 OBP.
On the surface, McCutchen is the clear choice. But the Pirates are in a dicier playoff predicament than the Giants, 10 games out of first place in the NL Central and chasing a wild-card dream.
If the Pirates don’t make the playoffs and the Giants do, Posey could get further love in the voting.
Like the playoff races, the MVP race is undecided. But for a catcher and cleanup hitter who’s the team leader, Posey is a serious candidate for the MVP award.