Friday, November 5, 2021

Rookie of the Year Spotlight: Buster Posey

Some of the collections I have been working on over the years are starting to get filled out and my goals are being reached. As a result, I'm starting to slow down a little when it comes to acquiring many cards for some of my mini-collections. Now that the collection is feeling more and more complete, I wanted to start showcasing the cards I have, player by player.

One such collection is my Rookie of the Year collection. I love collecting players who have won the award as the top newcomer in each league. This wasn't born of hot rookie hype and the desire to prospect. Rather, I became fascinated thinking about the careers of guys like Eric Karros, Jerome Walton, and Tim Salmon, who experienced varying degrees of success but may not have become superstars. I thought it would be fun to have a collection that chronicles the individual career journeys of rookie stars--whether they burned bright and flamed out quickly, regressed to the mean, or wended their way to Cooperstown.
My goal has been to fill a binder page for each player who won the award in my lifetime and to fill a row for older players. I may expand that later as I expand my vintage collection. The ultimate goal of my binder is to show a card from every different uniform the player wore, from fresh-faced rookie to grizzled vet. This series is to commemorate each Rookie of the Year's career and show my collection of their cards. I have a randomized list of winners that I use to determine the order of these posts, but I'm going off-script today to honor a recently retired former Rookie of the Year.

Buster Posey

Gerald Posey got his first cup of coffee in 2009, appearing in seven games and batting .185. The next year, he became the Giants' full-time backstop. In 2010, he led NL rookies with a .305 batting average and finished tied for second in home runs (18, one behind Florida's Gaby Sanchez). He also got to play in  six postseason games as the Giants won the World Series. The postseason success may have played a role in pushing him to the top of the Rookie of the Year voting. He ended up receiving 20 first-place votes over fellow rookie sensation Jason Heyward and his nine. St. Louis pitcher Jaime Garcia finished third, receiving one first-place vote, and Gaby Sanchez finished fourth but received two first-place votes.

2010 was just the beginning for Posey, however. Even though he missed most of the following season, he still managed to change baseball forever. During a play at the plate collision with Florida's Scott Cousins, Posey badly broke his leg. The play contributed to a new rule disallowing catchers to block the plate and runners to initiate contact with the catcher. The rule came to be known as "The Buster Posey Rule." But it wasn't just this unfortunate occurrence that made Posey's career memorable. In 2012, Posey returned and had a career year. He set career highs in average (an MLB-leading .336), home runs (24), RBI (103), and OPS (.957). His 171 OPS+ led the Majors. Posey took home NL MVP and received his second World Series ring. Over the next six seasons, Posey would make five All-Star teams. The one year he didn't get All-Star honors (2014), he still finished sixth in the MVP voting. He failed to make the All-Star team in 2019 and opted out of the 2020 season, but came back strong in 2021. This past year he led the Giants to the best regular season record in baseball and received one last All-Star nod.

Now Posey is hanging them up after 12 MLB seasons. He'll retire with seven All-Star nominations, three World Series rings, a Gold Glove, four Silver Sluggers, and an MVP. His career slash line is .302/.372/.460. Every game he played was in a Giants uniform. During his playing time, he was arguably the best catcher of his generation, going toe-to-toe with Yadier Molina for that honor. Without a doubt, he will find himself in Cooperstown when he is eligible. I'd say the Giants got what they wanted when they selected him 5th overall in the 2008 draft.

I have more Posey cards than this, but these are all I have in my ROY collection. Many of my other Poseys are parts of my set builds. In all, I have 37 Buster Posey cards. I don't need to chase down any other teams for him because he spent his entire career as a Giant. Congrats on the outstanding career, Buster!

1 comment:

  1. His retirement was huge news in the Bay Area this week. I really enjoyed hearing all of the great stories about his career on local sports radio. Not a Giants fan. Never will be. But I was a fan of Posey and will miss him.