Bochy reserves right to sit Posey to win batting crown

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Bochy reserves right to sit Posey to win batting crown

SAN DIEGO -- Major League Baseball's official statistics still show Melky Cabrera as the leader in the NL batting race with a .346 average, and it's no mistake. Cabrera will remain qualified until after the 162nd and final game, when he'll finish one plate appearance short.

As as you're no doubt aware, Major League Baseball approved Cabrera's request to amend Rule 10.22(a) so that he won't be considered qualified by adding an extra hitless at-bat to his statistics.

So the batting race is an actual race -- and Buster Posey is leading it.

Posey passed the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen on Thursday and entered Friday's game with a .333 average (.33268, to be more precise). McCutchen entered with a .332 average (.33158). He's now down to .330 after going 0 for 2 against the Reds. (Homer Bailey tossed a no-hitter by the way)

Posey is in the lineup tonight and will play regularly down this final week, although Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he'd rest his cleanup hitter on Sunday.

And Bochy could face an interesting choice in Wednesday's final regular-season game, since the Pirates will be done several hours before the Giants take the field at Dodger Stadium.

Would Bochy sit Posey with a slight lead?

"I definitely have that right, I'll say that," Bochy said.

If Bochy did sit Posey with a lead, it wouldn't sit too well with others around baseball. But it wouldn't be the first time controversy accompanied the final leg of a batting race. Remember Jose Reyes, bunting for a base hit and then leaving the game last year?

This goes back a lot further, though. Ty Cobb sat out to avoid losing any ground to Shoeless Joe Jackson. Wade Boggs also strategically sat down the stretch.

Then there is Ted Williams, who was hitting .39955 -- .400 when rounded up -- entering the final game of the 1941 season. He chose to play both ends of a doubleheader, went 6 for 8 and ended with the iconic .406 mark that is so well remembered.

Now that's how you go out.

Making sense of Melancon and the contract that doesn't matter

Making sense of Melancon and the contract that doesn't matter

In a world in which there is Aroldis Chapman and teams without parades, the San Francisco Giants decided that Santiago Casilla wasn’t the answer, and Mark Melancon is.
 
In fairness, the Giants made the Casilla call in September after watching him work and his confidence shrivel like an orange in front of a space heater, but there were other reasons why the Giants cratered in the second half and went from being a sure top seed to an in-by-the-skin-of-their-noses wild card team. They also hit after the break like they were portraying the San Diego Padres in a school play.
 
But the quick fix, albeit a pricy one, was Melancon, at $62 million for the next four years, a tribute to (a) his work in Pittsburgh and Washington, and (b) the knowledge that the Giants had to buy a closer because they have been unable to nurture one.
 
The contract, which is the highest for a closer in terms of total dollars invested until Chapman and Los Angeles’ Kenley Jansen sign their deals shortly, is not the important part, though. The important part is that Bruce Bochy’s brain is less likely to explode, and that Madison Bumgarner is less likely to yank off a buffalo’s head in rage at another lead blown.
 
Melancon is Brian Sabean’s/Bobby Evans’ response to the 57 percent save percentage (43 saves, 32 blown) the Giants amassed in 2016, their worst in the 10-year Bochy Bullpen Whisperer era and a dropoff from 78 percent in 2010, 79 percent in 2012, and 72 percent in 2014, just to name three years that ended better than the way Game 4 of the NL Division Series did.
 
And while saves and save percentage are not the most granular ways to explain why the Giants made Melancon their fifth highest-paid player, they help explain the urgency to do so, an urgency more profound even that addressing the sinkhole in left field or the wobbly nature of third base.
 
Fortunately, of course, the Giants are swimming in money you have provided them, so that cost should not necessarily be a major impediment to attacking those other needs, but the bullpen was first because the bullpen was worst. And while Melancon will be 35 when his contract expires, the Giants are willing to take the nervous gamble that the contract will indeed expire before Melancon’s usefulness does.
 
And while your results may vary, closers are a nerve-wracking lot anyway, which is why four years and $62 million makes more sense than the five-plus and $100 million or so that Chapman is likely to attract. True, Melancon is not nearly as breathtaking (or as prone to induce his manager to overuse him as Joe Maddon did in the World Series), but the goal isn’t dropped jaws but outs created, and Melancon hasn’t allowed opponents to hit even as much as .210 against him in three years, and his three-year WHIP of 0.899 is sufficiently inspiring for San Francisco’s needs.
 
What comes next? Well, if Sabean and Evans can ply Larry Baer with sufficient drinks to make him put the budget away, they could throw a ton of money at Justin Turner of the Dodgers to (a) improve third base and (b) steal him away from the Dodgers, which always energizes the fan base. As an interested party, you don’t want to bet that way (Turner is considered pretty much re-Dodgered), but if your closer is suddenly worth $15 big ones a year, a third baseman . . . well, you get the point. In for that much, in for that much more, and then some.

Giants catcher Buster Posey to play in World Baseball Classic

Giants catcher Buster Posey to play in World Baseball Classic

Update (11:20 a.m.): MLB announced Giants catchers Buster Posey will participate in the World Baseball Classic for the United States.

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Buster Posey is reportedly getting prepared to represent his country.

The Giants' catcher is on USA Baseball's provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic and is likely to play in the tournament, according to Fox Sports' Jon Morosi.

The 16-team tournament will be held from March 9-22 across four countries.

The championship round will be at Dodger Stadium.

Giants pitchers and catchers report to spring training in mid-February.

Opening Day for the Orange and Black is April 2 at the Diamondbacks.

Buster Posey hit .288 with 14 home runs and 80 RBI last season. He started 122 games at catcher and took home his first Gold Glove.