Two years ago, Buster Posey was a little bit of a milder version of what Trout is doing this season. Though not quite as young as Trout, Posey took baseball by storm, won the Rookie of the Year Award and came in eleventh in MVP voting despite only playing in 108 games. Posey went on to lead that pitching staff into the playoffs and the team brought home a World Series trophy. Not a bad first season. Then Posey had that horrific injury on a collision at the plate and was gone for the season after only 45 games. No one knew what to expect from Posey this season. And wow, could anyone have predicted how well he would come back!?
This post comes from a terrific comment by SharksRog on a post written two days ago listing the crowded eight-player logjam at the top of the National League MVP Award race. The comment made a lot of sense in just about every aspect. It may or may not be a coincidence, but in 2010 with Posey performing really well, the Giants won it all. Last year with Posey out, the Giants did not make the playoffs. This year, with him back, the Giants are running away from the field in the NL West and are poised to make another playoff run. It certainly doesn't feel like a coincidence.
One benefit Posey has is that there are not other players on the Giants having an outstanding season. Sure, Scutaro has been great since coming over. And Pagan is having a fine season. But Posey drives that offense and has all season, particularly in the second half.
As the comment mentioned, Posey also plays a premium position. And everyone could have a great debate on who the best catcher in baseball is right now between Posey and Molina of the Cardinals. Molina might have the edge defensively and is having a terrific offensive season as well. But Molina has the problem of other stars on his team having big seasons such as Craig and Holliday.
And Posey has played his position extremely well. He has caught 108 games and the rest were played at first or as the DH during interleague games. But he has caught a lot of games. He only achieved his second passed ball the other day. So he only has two all season. With that staff of pitchers that do not throw anything straight, that is amazing. And his total of wild pitches allowed is also excellent considering his staff. He is not quite the force with base runners that Molina is, but he fares better than league average on throwing runners out. From coming back from an injury to his leg, and the leg being so important in catching, his season behind the plate is remarkable.
But more remarkable has been his offense. Posey has a 170 OPS+. His triple slash line currently sits at: .334/.408/.544. His 22 homers represent 24.7% of his team's homer output. The Giants are dead last in the NL in hitting homers. Posey has also added 36 doubles and has driven in 93 runs. He is one of only three players in the National League with a wOBA over .400 and a wRC+ over 160. Consider a guy slugging like that who only swings and misses pitches six percent of the time. That's a wonderful combination.
Also impressive is how much Posey has improved his patience and pitch recognition at the plate. His on-base percentage is amazing considering his career average. His walk percentage was only 6.8% in 2010. That went up to 9.7% in his brief 2011. This season, that figure is all the way up to 11.4% and his 64 walks are easily a career high and more than he had in 2010 and 2011 combined. And just in case you were wondering, only four of those were intentional.
Posey is one of those rare breeds that was a first round draft pick (2008) that has exceeded expectations. His play sometimes gets overlooked because of the lateness of his games in relation to the rest of the country. But Buster Posey is one of the best players in baseball and his 2012 season looks like an MVP season from this angle.