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Here She Come Now Sayin' Posey, Posey

(originally written 11/16/10)

…and the whole Bay Area’s feelin’ all right.

Buster Posey is the N.L. Rookie of the Year for 2010, quite the feat considering his 2010 was about 33% shorter than that of fellow contenders Jason Heyward, Jaime Garcia, and Gaby Sanchez. He was named on 20 first-place ballots and received 129 total points, 22 more than Heyward.

If the BBWAA somehow blew this vote and denied possibly the nation’s most obvious award winner since Christopher took the 2005 Darwin Award, I honestly believe the city of San Francisco would have appeared at each voter’s house with whips, demanding satisfaction. If there’s anything San Franciscans don’t stand for, it’s injustice—in sports or otherwise. They basically forced their legislature to cease renaming Candlestick Park permanently, as you may recall. 

Luckily (for said voters), they didn’t botch it. Every few years a guy comes along, like Heyward, who is anointed baseball’s savior in Spring Training. Even when his output doesn’t quite match his hype, you still hear his name frequently, as pundits work overtime trying to prove they were right after all.

“Jason Heyward, Atlanta’s rookie sensation, had four hits.” That’s the report. 
(See? I told you he was great!) That’s the undertone.

And hype has a way of spilling over. Dontrelle Willis and Fernando Valenzuela are two examples of that. Both of those pitchers began ridiculously hot in their rookie seasons before plateauing and falling way back to Earth. Yet they were so popular and so identifiable by season’s end that their slumps didn’t affect the voters back then. Heyward may have been on Atlanta’s roster from Day One, but he didn’t have the numbers or the impact that Posey did.

The 23-year-old catcher would have been an All-Star were he not called up so late in the season. He would have led the team in most offensive categories. He certainly had a real shot at Most Valuable Player, which some “baseball men” felt was within his reach anyway. Tim Lincecum was denied a surefire ROTY in 2007 by being called up in June, rather than opening with the club. It would have been almost criminal to see Posey lose the recognition in similar fashion.

I’ve thought hard about this and I honestly cannot recall the last time the Giants had even a semi-legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate in terms of play and eligibility. My first thought went to John Burkett in 1990. Determined not to rely on the Internet, I really pressed my temples and came up with: Jerome Williams in 2003, and nothing else. I could hardly even recall any realistic qualifiers for the award in terms of playing time. Given the management approach to roster construction in the 2000’s, I shouldn’t be surprised…but I am. Not that I’m the end-all on the topic by any means—if you can name somebody else post-Burkett, pre-Posey, please do so. (Pablo Sandoval and Bill Mueller, among others, just missed the eligibility cut.)

This is for all the trying years in the late 2000’s when we fans called KNBR almost nightly on our 3G cell phones, wondering when the Giants would ever give us another homegrown star position player—a Will Clark, a Matt Williams; somebody drafted and bred in the Orange and Black who we could (warning: cliché ahead) “build a team around” and claim as ours.

The answer was 2009, when Gerald Dempsey Posey took his first sip of MLB coffee. In 2010, he chugged a whole keg of coffee and was simply the baddest rookie in all the National League. Barring another Conigliaro incident, he may well be the baddest catcher in all the land for the next decade—gunning down base stealers with regularity, parking homers over the Willie Mays wall, coming through with clutch hit after clutch hit, all the while keeping veteran and green pitchers alike from unraveling on the mound.

Buster Posey, 2010 National League Rookie of the Year.
Could he be 2011 National League MVP?
I say yeah, YEAH! Yeah, YEAH!

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