The San Francisco Giants aren’t gaining much respect as a potential sleeper to win the 2014 World Series, but that doesn’t change the fact that catcher Buster Posey is a perennial MVP candidate. Posey is among the most accomplished players of all time at the age of 26. The two-time World Champion has already claimed an MVP award to complement a hefty closet of pristine hardware. Posey also owns bragging rights as the 2012 Comeback Player of the Year and Silver Slugger.
The Giants’ back-stop failed to meet lofty expectations in 2013, posting a .280 batting average with 15 home runs while driving in 72 runs. His stat line was solid all-around, at least in comparison to what most big league players strive for, but was disappointing in consideration of what Posey is capable of. Fatigue crippled Posey’s ability to perform at a high level in the second half of the season. He posted a lackluster .643 OPS with just nine extra-base hits in 197 at-bats after the All-Star Break.
Posey aims to eradicate second half inconsistency and avoid prolonged slumps in 2014. He added roughly 10 pounds of muscle mass over the offseason, and is arguably in the best shape of his career. The Giants need Posey to register MVP-caliber numbers in order to stun the arch-rival Los Angeles Dodgers this season; past success indicates that he is certainly capable of doing that.
Posey was virtually unstoppable in 2012, recording a league best .336 batting average with 24 home runs while driving in 103 runs. That season-long performance resulted in some serious hardware, and it also helped propel the Giants to a second championship in a span of three seasons. According to FanGraphs.com, Posey is projected to post a solid .297 batting average with 20 home runs and 81 RBI in 615 plate appearance this season. Those projections are relatively conservative though, especially considering the added value of a long offseason.
The Giants have noticeably struggled in defense of Series titles. They failed to earn a playoff berth in both seasons succeeding a championship, suffering several crucial injuries to key players in the process. Posey has managed to stay healthy in each of his three full seasons at the big league level, with the exception of 2011, when he suffered a grisly season-ending ankle injury.
Posey is perhaps the most underrated leader in all of baseball. He flaunts a calm demeanor on and off the field, quietly enabling his team to consistently contend down the stretch. The Giants’ potential success lives and dies with Posey, who is geared up for a monstrous showing in 2014. He’s one of the best pure hitters in the game, a showcase that will be on display all season long.