Last fall, the San Francisco Giants put a major scare into the eventual World Series champion Chicago Cubs.
The Giants dropped the NLDS to the Cubs in four games, but not before coming within an inning of forcing a decisive fifth game.
That loss put an end to the Giants “even years” magic. The club had captured the Fall Classic in 2010, 2012, and 2014.
There were a number of key factors that allowed San Francisco to remain such a consistent threat during this decade. A handful of strong starting pitchers. Versatility with a deep bullpen. Outstanding defense.
One of the biggest keys, perhaps the most important, irreplaceable player during this run, was the club’s catcher.
POSEY ARRIVES, WINNING BEGINS
Buster Posey was the first round pick of the Giants at fifth overall in the 2008 MLB Amateur Draft. He made his big league debut just a year later at age 22, and became the starting catcher in 2010.
In that 2010 season, Posey hit for a .305/.357/.505 slash line. He pounded 18 homers, drove in 67 runs, and won the National League Rookie of the Year Award. The Giants captured the franchise’ first World Series in more than a half-century.
Posey was off to a solid start once again the following season when he was felled by a horrific injury. On May 25th, Scott Cousins of the Marlins bowled into him in a home plate collision, causing Posey to suffer severe leg injuries, ending his season. The play resulted in baseball changing the rules on home plate collisions with the so-called ‘Posey Rule‘.
Returning in 2012, Posey took his game to another level. He hit for a .336/.408/.549 slash line, banging 24 homers and driving in 103 runs. The Giants again won the World Series, and Posey was named the National League Most Valuable Player.
POSEY AND GIANTS: CONSISTENT EXCELLENCE
He has been one of the top players in the game ever since. Posey has been an NL All-Star in four of the last five seasons, and was voted as the NL starting catcher for each of the last two Midsummer Classics.
He has received NL MVP votes each year while capturing three Silver Sluggers and a Gold Glove Award. And once again, Posey led the Giants to a World Series crown in 2014.
Following his 2012 MVP campaign, Posey was signed to a nine-year, $164 million deal. The contract calls for him to make $21.4 million for each of the next five seasons.
Because of his accomplishments and the team’s commitment to him, Posey is an unquestioned leader in the clubhouse.
Posey has been a winner his entire playing career. He led his high school team to the Georgia 4A State Championship Game. In college, his summer teams won Cape Cod League championships in both 2006 and 2007.
The Giants are likely to be a leading National League contender once again in the 2017 season. Per Janie McCauley of The Sacramento Bee, Posey is looking to do even more this year.
“Hopefully there’s an adjustment I can make where I can keep that consistent hard contact rate but maybe get a few more balls in the gap or better.”
It’s not an “even” year; that string already broke. The Giants and their fans don’t care what the last number is on the calendar year. They know that with a motivated, healthy Posey at the fore, it will be another winning summer by the Bay.