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Buster Posey: Not Merely Valuable, But Irreplaceable
The MVP for both leagues will be announced later today. In observance of such a momentous occasion, I took a look at the statistics and have my own position on the matter. We decided to limit our discussion to the likely top 3 contenders, as they provide an interesting contrast from a statistical standpoint. However, I don’t think it’s going to be all that close. There have been some lively debates on what exactly constitutes the Most Valuable Player. From the Baseball Writers’ Association of America:
“The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:
- Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.
- Number of games played.
- General character, disposition, loyalty and effort…”
In the interest of full disclosure; I come from a long line of catchers, my son is a catcher. So, you might say I have skin in the game. In my book, the National League MP has to be Buster Posey.
Coming off a season shortened by a horrific injury, many hoped the Giants would move him to first base to protect their young slugger. Posey didn’t want that. He knew he could help his team more behind the plate than he could from the right side of the infield. This speaks volumes to the character, disposition loyalty and effort categories mentioned above. Given his future earning potential, one can see the unselfish position he took as an integral piece of the Giants’ success this season. Yet, without complaining he did play first base when asked to do so. Which provided valuable time off for their young first baseman Brandon Belt as he figured out how to deal with the pitching in the majors, and allowed their young catching prospect Hector Sanchez to get comfortable with a couple of their pitchers, and achieve a small sample of success at the plate. In short, his actions made his teammates better, and increased their overall experience, as well as mental and physical health as they approached the playoffs.
In terms of raw numbers, Posey’s has some really intriguing aspects:
- Posey led the majors in runners thrown out with 38, though not in the percentage of runners caught stealing. This is due to a known deficiency the Giants’ pitching staff has in holding runners on.
- Posey was the first catcher in 70 years to win the NL batting title.
- He also led the league in on-base percentage with 4.08.
- Posey caught a pitching staff that recorded a 3.68 ERA.
- He hit .385 after the All Star Break, while recording an OPS of 1.102.
- Finally, Posey led the Major Leagues in Wins Above Replacement with 7.2.
Take a look at the charts we put together to celebrate this remarkable season. Oh, not that it matters but the Giants also won the NL West going away and eventually swept the Tigers in the World Series.
Now for his nearest competitors: Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Braun. I’ll spare the arguments for and focus on what hurt their chances for winning the MVP this season.
McCutchen was dominant early in the season and led the Pirates to a very good first half. As his production fell off, so did the Pirates’ chances of finding themselves in the post-season. Many, if not all who have a vote value contributions to a winning cause. McCutchen is a very solid centerfielder and a great hitter. He just didn’t do enough to make a difference on his team.
Ryan Braun also performed very well, in fact he put up comparable numbers to his MVP performance of 2011. But, with the alleged PED use hanging over him, Braun would have had to lead in every offensive category, and the Brewers would have had to win the Central by 20 games for him to win.
Posey was paid $615,000 for this season. That number will go up. But, for fun. Look at how much the measureables cost for each player:
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