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Hal Bodley

Indispensable Posey adds MVP to hardware haul

Bodley: Indispensable Posey adds MVP to haul

Indispensable Posey adds MVP to hardware haul
It was virtually impossible to picture anyone other than the Giants' Buster Posey winning the National League MVP Award.

Baseball Writers' Association of America voters obviously had the same view, as they honored the San Francisco Giants' catcher with the honor on Thursday night.

I felt all along he'd be a slam dunk and that's the way it turned out. He received 27 first-place votes, was second on four and third on one of the 32 ballots cast. The Brewers' Ryan Braun, 2011 winner, finished a distant second, followed by the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen and Yadier Molina of the Cardinals.

Posey prevailed for a myriad of reasons, including becoming the first catcher in 70 years to win a league batting title and because he was the only candidate to win a division title.

In addition to his MLB-leading .336 batting average, he led the NL in on-base percentage (.408). He hit 24 homers, drove in 103 runs and batted .340 with runners in scoring position.

The Giants, of course, not only won the NL West, but swept the Tigers to win their second World Series in three years.

Voting for all BBWAA awards took place prior to the postseason and was based only on regular-season stats.

Regardless, Giants manager Bruce Bochy, a former catcher, when asked about Posey's MVP candidacy said: "I'd hate to think where we would have been without him. He's our cleanup hitter, a guy handling the staff. He's played first base. The numbers, they speak for themselves.

"But also his leadership on this club. We saw what life was without him last year. We lost him. And the year before, Buster came up and helped us win the World Series. And last year when he went down, we couldn't hold on [make the postseason]. We got him back this year and were back in the playoffs. I don't know a player that's made a bigger impact on a club than him. He's just a tremendous talent. We're lucky to have him."

I've always maintained the best scenario for an MVP is a player instrumental in helping his team win a division or advance to the postseason as the Wild Card.

Of the top five candidates, only Posey and Molina fell into that category.

The Giants were division winners with 94 victories, while Wild Card St. Louis won 88 games. Braun's Brewers, McCutchen's Pirates and Chase Headley's Padres failed to make the postseason, and only the Brewers (83-79) had a winning record.

Posey, who last week won the Silver Slugger Award as the NL's best-hitting catcher, played in just 45 games in 2011. He missed the remainder of the season after fracturing a bone in his lower left leg during a collision at home plate on May 25.

He's the first Giant to win a Silver Slugger since Barry Bonds in 2004.

Consider this:

• Ernie Lombardi, who batted .330 in 1942 for the Boston Braves, is the last catcher to lead the NL in batting.
• In 1938 Lombardi, with the Cincinnati Reds, batted .342 and also was MVP, a rarity Posey also achieved.
• The only other catcher to lead in batting average was Bubbles Hargrave, who hit .353 with Cincinnati in 1926.

Posey also become the fifth catcher, joining Johnny Bench, Roy Campanella, Bob O'Farrell and Lombardi to win the NL MVP Award. He's the first since Bench won his second in 1972.

The most recent catchers to win the MVP Award were the Rangers' Ivan Rodriguez in 1999, and the Twins' Joe Mauer in 2009 -- both in the AL.

Posey, already named NL Comeback Player of the Year, was at his best after the All-Star Game, in which he was voted the starting catcher by fan balloting. He batted .385 with a .456 OBP, .646 slugging percentage, 23 doubles, 14 homers and 60 RBIs in 71 games as the Giants won the division title.

During the World Series, Posey and the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera, the AL MVP, were named winners of the annual Hank Aaron Awards.

As the accolades have piled up, Posey said after the comeback honor: "I think anytime that you are selected for an award by your teammates and peers, it's a great honor. It is something for me coming off the injury last year and I was just happy to be back on the field. So, to be recognized by the guys means a lot to me."

Posey, just 25, has completed just two full seasons with the Giants and each time they've won the World Series.

Or as teammate Jeremy Affeldt puts it: "He's going to be around a long time and he's going to be a leader on the team for a long time. There's no telling how many rings that guy's going to have by the time he's done."

Or MVP Awards.

Player, Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th Points
Buster Posey, Giants 27 4 1 422
Ryan Braun, Brewers 3 15 10 4 285
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates 6 13 11 1 1 245
Yadier Molina, Cardinals 2 6 8 13 1 1 241
Chase Headley, Padres 1 9 7 5 5 1 127
David Wright, Mets 7 4 1 3 4 3 86
Adam LaRoche, Nationals 6 5 2 5 1 86
Craig Kimbrel, Braves 1 3 5 2 2 3 1 73
Aramis Ramirez, Brewers 1 1 4 6 1 47
Jay Bruce, Reds 2 1 3 2 1 46
Matt Holliday, Cardinals 1 1 2 2 3 2 34
Aroldis Chapman, Reds 1 1 1 3 2 20
Brandon Phillips, Reds 2 1 1 1 18
Joey Votto, Reds 1 1 1 5 16
R.A. Dickey, Mets 1 2 2 1 16
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers 3 1 1 15
Ian Desmond, Nationals 1 2 2 1 15
Michael Bourn, Braves 1 2 12
Allen Craig, Cardinals 2 2 10
Gio Gonzalez, Nationals 1 1 8
Alfonso Soriano, Cubs 1 1 1 8
Kris Medlen, Braves 2 8
Martin Prado, Braves 2 1 8
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals 1 1 7
Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins 1 1 7
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals 1 6
Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks 1 2 6
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies 1 1 4
Jason Heyward, Braves 1 2 4
Johnny Cueto, Reds 1 2
Bryce Harper, Nationals 1 2
Chipper Jones, Braves 1 1
Miguel Montero, D-backs 1 1
Angel Pagan, Giants 1 1
Hunter Pence, Giants 1 1

Hal Bodley is the senior correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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