When Buster Posey went down in 2011, the San Francisco Giants’ playoff hopes went down with him. But now that he’s back, the Giants are soaring with him.
Posey has bounced back from his horrific injury in May of 2011 to hit .333 with 23 homers and 99 RBI for the Giants, who locked up first place in the NL West with a win on Saturday. Posey has tore up opposing pitchers in the second half, which explains his second-half batting average hovering around .400.
Hector Sanchez, Posey’s backup catcher, has done a nice job, but he is much less valuable than Posey. Posey has an incredible .407 OBP, and his ability to work the count has been huge. He is getting tons of hitters counts, which turn into hits and walks more often than not.
Sanchez has a respectable .268 batting average, but he has a dreadful OBP (.282) and strikeout rate (24.9 percent). Posey plays better defense, too. He has just two passed balls this year, which is the least in the majors. And, he has gunned down the most base-stealers out of all catchers, despite having Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner in the rotation.
Posey’s main competitors, Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen, have been great, and both have stats very similar to Posey’s. Braun and McCutchen have a higher WAR total, which is very important in MVP voting. However, the margin is very small, and the same goes with the difference between batting averages for Posey and McCutchen (McCutchen is hitting .336).
Braun leads the NL in home runs and RBI, and he’s been a huge factor in Milwaukee’s improbable run towards the playoffs. Their playoff hopes are now slim, but without Braun, they would be a lot worse. His 6.8 WAR clearly illustrates that concept, and his 40 homers and 108 RBI also do.
McCutchen isn’t a power hitter, but he has 30 homers this year. Posey has 23, which is a lot, but McCutchen and Braun clearly have the edge in that category. However, the fact that Posey plays in a pitcher’s park has to be taken into consideration, and the same goes with the fact that his body takes a beating while he catches.
Posey hasn’t received tons of plate appearances, either. He has 505 at-bats this year, while McCutchen has 565 and Braun has 567. If Posey had 60 more at-bats, his stats would probably be better. I’m sure he would easily surpass 100 RBI (which he will do anyways) and I bet he’d have a few more home runs.
His ability to put the ball in play has helped, too. Posey has a meager 91 strikeouts this year, while McCutchen and Braun have 122 and 124. Yes, they both have more at-bats than Posey, but it’s hard to strike out half of the time in 62 at-bats. Especially for a superstar like Posey.
Posey ranks second in the NL in batting average with RISP (minimum 125 PA in that situation), posting a .356 clip in that situation. McCutchen places seventh and Braun places 16th in that category, which makes Posey’s numbers even more impressive.
The Giants were in second place in the NL West at the All-Star break, when Posey was hitting .289 and not performing like an MVP candidate. But he’s hit .384 since the All-Star break, and the Giants have torched opponents in the second half. They opened up a huge lead over the talented Dodgers, and Posey was and still is the catalyst.
McCutchen was torching pitchers in June and July, but he’s cooled down in August. The Pirates have been horrible since the All-Star break, and McCutchen has been the main reason. He hasn’t hit too well since the All-Star break, placing 47th out of players with 125 or more plate appearances. Posey, predictably, has placed first (in the MLB).
Despite not having as much of a chance to contribute, Posey has dominated and become the front-runner for NL MVP. Both Braun and McCutchen have a case for winning the award, but their teams are spiraling downward and will miss the playoffs. And, neither of them have to deal with the everyday pain of catching nine innings (or more), or the hardships of recovering from a brutal injury.
So, Buster Posey deserves to be the NL MVP. Without a doubt.
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