Buster Posey Quietly Making an MVP Case for Himself


Everything about the San Francisco Giants‘ superstar catcher Buster Posey is quiet. His approach at the plate is quiet. His demeanor, on and off the field, is quiet. Now, he’s quietly making a case to be the National League’s Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career.

In 2012, when Posey took home the MVP award for the first time, he had a solid first half. It wasn’t an MVP-like half, but it was solid nonetheless. He hit .289 with 16 doubles, 10 home runs, and 43 runs batted in in 77 games before the All-Star break. In the second half, he left no doubt that he was the MVP.

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In 71 games after the break, he batted an eye-popping .385, and totaled 23 doubles, 14 home runs, and 60 RBI. He led all of baseball with a 1.102 OPS, even better than American League MVP Miguel Cabrera, who tallied 26 home runs and 68 RBI after All-Star festivities closed.

Somewhat similar to that year, Posey started this season a little sluggishly, hitting .263 with three home runs and 10 RBI in the season’s first month. He turned it up in May, batting .323 with five home runs and 17 RBI. In June, he really ratcheted it up, as he hit .313 with a .537 slugging percentage, along with nine doubles, four home runs, and 27 RBI, the best run-producing month of his career.

The upward swing has continued into July, as evidenced by his .409 average, .545 slugging percentage, two home runs, and nine RBI in 12 games.

Overall on the season, Posey is sixth in the National League with a .317 average (coincidentally tied with injured teammate Nori Aoki) and a .385 on-base percentage, and fifth with 65 RBI. He is one of just two qualified hitters in the NL with more walks than strikeouts, also alongside Aoki.

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Along with the strong offensive showing, Posey has also played Gold Glove-caliber defense at two different positions. As a backstop, Posey hasn’t committed an error in 453 total chances, has allowed just three passed balls, and has caught 42.3 percent of potential base thieves, just mere percentage points behind Yadier Molina, the NL’s gold standard for catchers. Posey hasn’t erred at first base either, being perfect in 214 chances, and providing no defensive drop-off from Brandon Belt on Posey’s “rest days” at first.

Posey has gotten help from his friends, as the hitters around him have made his job easier. Hitting machine Joe Panik, the second-place hitter in the Giants’ lineup, has been getting on base in front of Posey at an extremely high rate. He’s hitting .315 with a .381 OBP, good for eighth in the NL.

Matt Duffy owns a .299 average on the year, but since moving to the three-hole, he’s been even better. With Posey batting cleanup behind him, Duffy is hitting .351 (40-114). That makes for a lot of opportunities for Posey to look like an MVP.

Posey is also getting protection from the batter behind him now. Since Hunter Pence returned from the disabled list for the second time, he is hitting .333 and slugging .606 with 11 RBI in eight games.

As it stands now, Posey still trails behind some stiff competition for the award. Washington Nationals’ right fielder Bryce Harper has blossomed into the player that he was expected to be, owning a jaw-dropping .337/.465/.702 slash-line. He’s tied for the Major League lead with 27 home runs, has driven in 64 runs, and is widely seen as the NL MVP front-runner so far.

There’s also division rival Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks, a name with which the Giants are all too familiar. He’s pacing the Senior Circuit in two of the three triple crown categories, with his .340 average and 72 RBI, and is fifth in the league with 21 home runs.

Posey has gotten stronger as the season has gone on, and he’ll need to continue that trend as the season goes on if he were to continue pushing to be the NL’s Most Valuable Player again. He’s done it before. There’s not much stopping him from repeating 2012.

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