Barry Bonds

Buster Posey is dynamite

With all due respect to MaddyMaddyBumBum (don’t forget to read that in a British accent), as the games go by and the Giants morph into this weird group, the likes of which have never really seen before (at least on this side of the Bay), it becomes clearer with each inning that Buster Posey deserves his own column.

Oh Buster, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

I could go on and on about his plate approach. His power to all fields, the ability to shorten his swing on two strikes in one at-bat and then crush the ball in a conscience-free manner with two strikes in his next one. Then there’s the arm, the ball blocking (haha) and most importantly the calming influence he provides from behind the plate.

Ahh, forget it. You know why Posey’s great? Why we’re all starting to look for faults in Stephen Strasburg and Jason Heyward, since no rookie could possibly be dominating the way Posey has since Brian Sabean freed him from his Fresno prison? Because he is cocky as hell. Quick, name the best position players the Giants have had since coming to San Francisco. Chances are your mind immediately went to Willie Mays and Barry Bonds, and then perhaps drifted off to Neuschler and Willie McCovey. And mayyyybe Jeff Kent and/or Orlando Cepeda, if you really like mustaches and jerk chicken.

All cocky as hell. Mays knew he was the best player in the world. Bonds only had about 10-15 people in the entire world that he’d feel were worthy of even looking at when he played. It’s tough to think of one doughy white guy who ever strutted as much as Will Clark did between the years of 1986-92 (Elvis?). In his own quiet way Posey’s got that same arrogance, even though (as my wonderful fiance pointed out last night while Posey was wandering around the dugout during Nate Schierholtz’s postgame interview) he bears some resemblance to one Napoleon Dynamite.

Wouldn’t it make sense on a team where the dominant personalities remind us of Mitch Kramer and a Kung Fu Panda that the guy who may be the most swaggerific Giant of them all stalks around the field looking like someone just kicked his pocket full of tater tots? While we’re at it, Brian Wilson does have a little Steve Stiffler in him; perhaps the Giants’ ad agency could look at improving their marketing campaign with some sort of Giants ensemble cast pre-teen comedy sketches next year. Couldn’t be any worse than those creepy slow-mo “It’s Magic Inside” ads, especially the ones that include Bruce Bochy’s zombie corpse speaking from the dugout.

Buster Posey: Rookie of the Year?

So does Napoleon have a chance at being voted the top rook, or is this Buster4ROY push just what the Giants’ marketing department is working on now before working on their “Your Gamers are Inside, Let’s Play” promotional campaign that they’ll probably use in 2011? If the folks doing the ZiPS projections know what they’re talking about (any any stat nerd will tell you that they do), this isn’t as much of a no-chance-in-hell-not-with-ESPN-East-Coast-bias-grrrrrrr situation as I’ll admit that I thought it probably was.

ZiPS Updated Projections (including the stats that most of the voters pay attention to):

Strasburg: 16 starts, 93. 7 innings, 8-5 record, 117 K, 2.88 ERA, 1.14 WHIP

Heyward: 539 PA, .258/.359/.441, 17 HR, 8 SB, 75 R, 71 RBI

Posey: 363 PA, .313/.367/.497, 13 HR, 1 SB, 52 R, 55 RBI

Of course these are just projections, but there are several non-statistical indicators that would lend Posey an advantage over the main contenders. Strasburg is the Nationals’ Hope Diamond and their team isn’t all that great, so his workload will surely be curtailed as the season goes on since he’s already pitched 104 innings combined in 2010, and that doesn’t even count spring training. Heyward has been dealing with a thumb injury and hasn’t done anything since May, while Posey may be the favorite to win be NL Player of the Month for July.

Unfortunately it probably won’t be the media darlings who challenge Posey for ROY honors, but his delayed start time and a quietly excellent season for NL rookies. New York’s Ike Davis and Chicago’s Tyler Colvin both have 13 homers. Florida’s Gaby Sanchez and St. Louis’ David Freese have hit well over a longer period of time and have shown similar plate discipline to Posey. Mike Leake (6-1, 3.53 ERA) and Jaime Garcia (8-4, 2.27 ERA)  have helped anchor the Reds’ and Cardinals’ rotations. Sure, none other rookie is hitting .3-effing-50, but Posey’s average will probably come back to a more earthly number in due time.

Or, maybe it won’t. Even though he’s only been up for a little more than a quarter of a season, it seems like Posey’s been here much longer. He started off on fire, then had a pretty decent slump. Not an Aaron Rowand-level slump, but a long enough one that it could have been represented in montage form with recurring clips showing Bruce Bochy shaking his head in the dugout and replacing him with Bengie Molina. Now he’s in the midst of a 13-game hitting streak, to go with a 10-gamer he pulled off in his first couple weeks with San Francisco.

Posey carries himself like he’s angry he wasn’t called up sooner. Maybe I’m just projecting all our varying levels of anger regarding this subject upon him, but his Napoleon-esque facial expressions show me a person who’s annoyed they even had to stay in the Minors for a full year. (“Gosh! I can’t believe I have to stay here with all these IDIOTS. I have great skills, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, ball-blocking skills…”)  It’s that confidence that tells us Posey’s goals include batting titles and making 8-figure salaries. The NL ROY award is going to get interesting.

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