Bustin’ Out: Rookie of the Year

Max Faulkner

Charlie Kennewig

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey holds the commisioner's trophy at the World Series

Though the immediate excitement of the San Francisco Giants’ first World Championship has gone, their fans have another victory to celebrate this week.

Giants’ catcher Buster Posey was named the National League Rookie of the Year. Posey beat out fellow candidates like Atlanta’s Jayson Heyward and Florida’s Gabby Sanchez by receiving twenty out of thirty-two first place votes.

Most San Francisco Giants fans felt their 23-year-old backstop deserved the award. Posey was called up on May 29 to play, mostly to jump start the Giants’ sluggish offense and play first base, because the team already had a solid catcher in Bengie Molina.

Buster quickly endeared himself to fans by driving in four runs in his first three games. When the Giants traded Molina to make Posey the everyday catcher, he exploded, batting .417 in the month of July, including a 22-game hitting streak.

There is no doubt that his offensive stats were outstanding in the 2010 season, but it’s the fact that Posey is a catcher that makes his award even more impressive. Since the Rookie of the Year award was first awarded in 1947, there have now only been nine catchers who have won the award.

Typically, a rookie catcher has so much to learn about setting defenses, calling pitches, and handling pitching staffs that their offensive stats typically suffer.

This was not the case for Buster. He played superb defense, both at catcher and first base, handled a young, talented pitching staff and hit .305 with 18 home runs and 67 runs batted in.

If the home run and RBI totals don’t sound that impressive, consider this: Posey played 108 games, 34 fewer than fellow ROY candidate, the Braves’ Jayson Heyward, who had 18 HRs and 72 RBI.
Posey’s 108 games played are the least among any of the other eight catchers to be named Rookie of the Year.

He stands out from other former ROY backstops in another way.

Buster Posey is the only ROY catcher to win a World Series ring. In fact, he’s only the second Rookie of the Year catcher to make it to the postseason (the first: Geovany Soto, 2008). That’s quite impressive, considering the names on this short list—names like Benito Santiago, Thurman Munson and Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk and Johnny Bench.

And with his .305 batting average, Posey is second behind only Mike Piazza (.318) on that list for batting during their inaugural seasons.

It is clear that Posey has cemented his place in history as far as rookie seasons go, but where does he go from here?

On the list of the eight former Rookie of the Year catchers, half of them declined in productivity in most major categories. Will the young catcher keep progressing? Or is this as good as it gets?
Fans in San Francisco believe (and hope) that Buster Posey isn’t just a flash in the hot pan of a championship season.

As it is with most things in life, only time will tell. If this season’s pressure-packed situations are an indication of things to come, it looks as if Gerald “Buster” Posey is ready to continue playing “older” than he actually is.