Thursday, November 15, 2012

Buster Posey wins 2012 NL MVP

Just as expected, Buster Posey has won the 2012 NL MVP award.  He also won the 2010 Rookie of the Year.  Interestingly, both years that he earned these prestigious awards, the SF Giants won their only two World Series.

Its the 10th time a SF Giant has won the NL MVP, but only the 6th player to do so, since Barry won 5 of those times.  (Barry won 7 overall, the first 2 were with the Pirates.)  Willie Mays did win 2, but the first time was in NY.

SF Giants MVP Seasons:
Willie Mays 1965
Willie McCovey 1969
Kevin Mitchell 1989
Barry Bonds 1993
Jeff Kent 2000
Barry Bonds 2001
Barry Bonds 2002
Barry Bonds 2003
Barry Bonds 2004
Buster Posey 2012

Of the 32 first place votes in the Baseball Writers of America, 27 voted for Buster.  That means he received 84% of the first place votes, while AL MVP Cabrera won just under 79%.  Also, while both won their league's respective batting titles, Buster actually had the better BA at .336.  (Not to mention that both were involved in the last play of the WS with Cabrera trudging away in defeat while Buster joyously flung his mask in the air.)  In fact, he is just the 2nd SF Giant to ever win the batting title (Barry Bonds).  He is also just the 4th catcher to lead the league in batting since Ernie Lombardi in 1942.

It was just the 9th time a catcher has been awarded the NL MVP and just the 5th catcher in the NL to do so.  There hasn't been a NL MVP catcher stretching back 40 years to when Johnny Bench won his 2nd in 1972.

I will now plagiarize myself in my earlier posted case for Buster's MVP:

- If we go only by batting average, Posey leads not just the NL, but all MLB with .336.  (Triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera won the AL at .330).  More impressively, he hit .385 after the All-Star break!

- In On Base Percentage (OBP), which helps us understand that walks are earned by hitters and not merely mistakes by pitchers, Buster finished 2nd in the NL with .408.  (It bears mentioning that the leader, Votto, had 156 less at bats than Buster).

- For Slugging Percentage (SLG), which weighs extra base hits, Buster finished in 4th with .549.

- But its worth noting that in OPS (OBP + SLG), which is a metric that many experts use to determine a player's actual hitting ability, he finished 2nd in the NL with .957.

- Other traditional stats of Posey this season, many of which are popular but may not be as accurate of a measure of a player's value, include:
     - 103 RBIs - He was 6th in the NL but had 74 less at bats than the RBI leader (115 RBIs).
     - 24 HRs - NL leader was at 41.
     - 178 hits - Finished 8th, but had between 63-116 LESS at bats than everyone above (leader: 194 hits).

- And in perhaps the best metric about one's measurable value to one's team, WAR - wins above replacement, Posey led the NL at 7.2.

- The two other players in the NL who deserved a look were Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, but they both trailed Posey in batting average, on base percentage and most importantly, wins above replacement.  We also can't forget that Braun and McCutchen's teams finished 14 and 18 games, respectively, out of their divisional leader.  Posey led an average group of hitters to 1st, not to mention the WS.  Braun finished 2nd, McCutchen finished 3rd.

- And, in case you've forgotten, HE'S A CATCHER who deals with the wear and tear of a season in a crouch.  It is obviously the most physically demanding position in the sport.  The value he provides as perhaps the game's best hitter is enough to win alone, before you even account for his value as the team's everyday catcher.

- Also, don't forget that this is just his first season back from the devastating leg injury last year.  On May 25th, 2011, he broke his fibula and tore multiple ligaments in his ankle.  For his efforts, he was also awarded the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year a few weeks ago.

- In the playoffs, Buster called nearly flawless games to navigate Giants pitchers through treacherous lineups.  He also hit the game-winning grand slam in Game 5 of the NLDS and a key 2-run HR in Game 7 of the World Series.

Hopefully Buster can join Barry in SF Giants lore as the only two with multiple MVPs on their resume when its all said and done.  And think about this - Buster's only been in the major leagues THREE years.

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