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DETROIT Last year, Buster Posey was on the shelf. This year, his shelf is getting awfully crowded.
It will be 20 more days until the NL Most Valuable Player Award is announced, for which Posey is considered a heavy favorite. But the Giants cleanup-hitting catcher took home one heck of a satisfying appetizer on Saturday, when he was named the recipient of the Hank Aaron Award in recognition of being the most outstanding offensive performer in the National League.
Detroits Miguel Cabrera, who became the first player to win the triple crown since 1967, received the AL award.
Posey received the award just 17 months after a home-plate collision ripped three ankle ligaments, fractured a bone in his leg and ended his season.
What an honor for Buster, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. This guy has amazed me with everything weve thrown at him. To come back and get this award tells you how talented and what a special player he is.
And hes so humble. He doesnt like to talk about himself. Hes one of the best players in the game. And being from Georgia, Im sure its going to mean a lot to have his name mentioned with Hank Aaron.
Posey won the NL batting title with a major league-best .336 average while also becoming the first Giant to drive in 100 runs since Barry Bonds in 2004. His 24 home runs was just tied for 22nd among NL hitters, but his .408 on-base percentage ranked second behind the Reds Joey Votto and his .957 OPS was second to the Brewers Ryan Braun.
Its possible that Brauns positive drug test from last season might have impacted the final vote, which is comprised of a special panel of Hall of Famers personally selected by Aaron. Tony Gwynn, Paul Molitor, Joe Morgan and Robin Yount were voting members of the panel this year.
Giants special assistant Felipe Alou, who played with Aaron, was elated to learn that Posey became the clubs first recipient of the award since Barry Bonds. Bonds won in 2001, 02 and 04.
Alou reminded that Aaron finished with a .305 career average.
What is an outstanding hitter? Is it a lot of home runs and RBIs? Or is it a batting champion? Alou said. A lot of people remember Hank Aaron for hitting all those home runs, but I know because I played with him what a great hitter he was. He hit doubles. He went to the opposite field. That is Posey right there, too.
I believe he most deserves this award because he is that kind of hitter. I dont know if hell hit 800 home runs, but the kind of year he had after that injury is amazing to me. Im proud of him.
I have told many people that we didnt win last year because Posey got hurt. We missed that Hank Aaron-type of hitter. Its good to have him back.