Giants catcher Posey named NL Rookie of Year


Giants catcher Posey named NL Rookie of Year


Mychael Urban

Though he hit the big-league scene a little late this season, Giants catcher Buster Posey did enough in four months to trump the huge head start, not to mention the national publicity that came with the splashy debut, of Braves outfielder Jason Heyward.Called up to the Giants from Triple-A Fresno on May 29 and handed the starting job behind the plate on June 30 after Bengie Molina was traded to the Rangers, Posey on Monday was named the National League winner of the 2010 Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award. Posey's selection, voted upon by select members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, marks the sixth time a Giant has won the award and first since John Montefusco in 1975. Gary Matthews won it in 1973, and the other Giants so honored are Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda."It gives me chills," Posey said Monday afternoon. "Those guys were unbelievable players and great ambassadors for the game -- and still are. I'm just humbled to be mentioned in the same category."Posey, 23, batted .305 with 18 home runs, 67 RBIs, a .357 on-base percentage and a .505 slugging percentage for the Giants and handled a pitching staff that helped the Giants win the NL West title and World Series. In voting that closed before the postseason started, Posey was named first on 20 of the 32 ballots cast by two writers in each NL city. He placed second on nine ballots and third on two to finish with 129 points, based on the 5-3-1 tabulation system. Heyward (.277, 18 HR, 72 RBIs, .393 OBP, .456 SLG) made the Atlanta roster out of spring training as a 20-year-old, homered in his first at-bat of the regular-season and was featured in an April issue of Sports Illustrated that declared him a "Legend Before His Time." The Braves phenom finished second in the voting, receiving nine first-place votes and finishing with 107 points. "I definitely was following him," Posey said of Heyward. "I remember seeing him hit the homer on Opening Day, and as a baseball fan myself it was a really cool moment. He had an unbelievable year."St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia (13-8, 2.70 ERA) got one first-place vote and placed third with 24 points. The other two first-place votes went to Florida Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez (.273, 19 HR, 85 RBIs), who finished fourth with 18 points. In all, nine players gained mention.Posey, who deflected any talk of individual accolades as the Giants chased down their first world championship since moving to San Francisco in 1958 (and since 1954 overall), dropped his guard a touch Monday when asked if he'd allowed himself to dream of claiming the top-rookie trophy in the two weeks since the end of the World Series."I'd be lying to you if I said I didn't think about it once we finished up," he conceded. "All the talent in the National League this year makes it even more special." Posey, a first-round draft pick in 2008 after winning the Golden Spikes Award as the nation's top amateur player that year, made his big-league debut late last season, batting .118 (2-for-17) without an extra-base hit or an RBI.
Despite a solid spring training, Posey was sent to Fresno for the start of 2010. The Giants said they wanted him to further develop defensively as a catcher; he started his college career as a shortstop and also pitched at Florida State. His eventually proved too potent to keep on the farm, though, and he forced the offensively-challenged parent club's hand with a torrid start to the season (.349, 21 XBH, 32 RBIs, .442 OBP, .552 SLG.) for the Grizzlies."It gave me an opportunity to work on some stuff that maybe I wouldn't have had the leeway to work on in the big leagues," Posey said of his time at Triple-A this season.Played primarily at first base upon being promoted, Posey collected three hits and three RBIs in his 2010 debut, and shortly after Molina was traded he embarked on a 21-game hitting streak (July 4-28) that was the longest of the season by a rookie in either league."It was a good, confident span," Posey said of the streak. "I felt like every time I was up at the plate I was going to hit the ball hard. Baseball's funny like that. You go through streaks like that. .. But just like that, you can lose it."Posey slumped occasionally, but he never quite lost it. His seven home runs in September included a solo shot that gave the Giants a huge 1-0 win at Chicago on Sept. 21, when he also guided four pitchers through a two-hitter and threw out a runner at second base. It was what many consider Posey's command performance on the way to becoming the sixth catcher to be named NL Rookie of the Year, joining Johnny Bench, Earl Williams, Benito Santiago, Mike Piazza and Geovanny Soto. True to form, however, Posey went the humble route at every turn during his conference call with the nation's media.
"I was just trying to make an impact with the team and get some wins," he said.

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Dodgers infielder weighs in on Harper's errant helmet throw

Before the right hooks and haymakers, there was the helmet toss.

A very bad helmet toss.

As he made his way to the mound after getting hit by a pitch on Monday afternoon, Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper attempted to throw his helmet at Giants reliever Hunter Strickland. He missed by a wide margin.

Observers took notice, including Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner.

"What was worse, Harper's helmet throw or 50 Cents first pitch? Heads up in the #McCoveyCove," Turner tweeted shortly after the brawl between the Giants and Nationals.

Turner is referring to a ceremonial first pitch thrown by rapper 50 Cent prior to a Mets game in 2014.

Harper mentioned the helmet when addressing the situation after the game.

"I was trying to go after him, with the helmet or with myself, just doing what I needed to do keep it going, I guess," Harper told reporters.


Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

Fight Notes: Harper thought this was over; Giants collide; Posey avoids it

SAN FRANCISCO — When the Nationals visited AT&T Park for the first time after the 2014 postseason series, Bryce Harper took to Instagram to compliment the city. “Nothing like SF! #BayArea” he wrote underneath a photo of the Bay Bridge. 

Harper, a Las Vegas kid, has always seemed to enjoy facing the Giants. He hasn’t hit well at AT&T Park, but he was a star in their 2014 matchup and he praised Brandon Crawford on Twitter during this year’s WBC. The greeting Monday was not a friendly one. 

Harper was retired three times by Matt Moore. The first pitch he saw from Hunter Strickland left a dent on his hip and set off a wild brawl. 

Strickland denied any intent. Harper seemed confused by the timing of the payback pitch. 

“It’s so in the past, it’s not even relevant anymore,” he said of their 2014 series, according to Dan Kolko of MASN. “They won the World Series that year. I don’t think he should even be thinking about what happened in the first round. He should be thinking about wearing that ring home every single night. I don’t know why he did it or what he did it for, but I guess it happens.”

The Giants were not surprised when Harper reacted the way he did. Now they’ll wait for Strickland to get hit with a suspension, and Harper is looking at a layoff, too. 

“You never want to get suspended or anything like that, but sometimes you’ve got to go and get him,” Harper said. “You can’t hesitate. You either go to first base or you go after him. And I decided to go after him.”

Strickland, about an hour after the fight, said he’s not sure what will happen in terms of discipline. 

“That’s their decision and obviously I’ll take whatever consequences come with it and we’ll go from there,” he said. 

Any action by the league is unlikely to impact this series. Even if suspensions are handed down swiftly, players can appeal. Harper and Strickland may not be alone. Several players jumped into the fray aggressively and at least one non-active Giant — Hunter Pence — was right in the middle of the scrum. At the very least, he could be facing a fine for trying to help his teammate. 

“It doesn't look good when a guy gets hit but also on their side, the guy throws his helmet,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Strickland’s got to stand his ground. There’s no choice there. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen (with suspensions).”

One player who won’t face discipline: Madison Bumgarner, who is also on the DL but wisely stayed away from this one, even if it probably killed him to do so. 

--- The biggest hit didn’t come from Strickland or Harper. It was Jeff Samardzija and Michael Morse coming together in the middle of the field. Both players said they were fine. 

"I was just trying to get in there to break everything up," Morse said. "We lost the game, that's what's most important."

Ahhh, yes, the Giants lost 3-0. Bochy seemed particularly peeved that Strickland chose the eighth inning of a 2-0 game to exact revenge, and you can bet some teammates weren't thrilled. We'll see if there's anything more to this Tuesday. There was a lot of adrenaline flowing, but some of these guys might not be feeling so spry when they wake up in the morning. Bochy said he had not heard any reports of players getting injured, but he also admitted that he didn't see most of the collisions and had no idea what happened with Morse and Samardzija, who had a world-class reaction, by the way.  

--- As with the incident with the Dodgers a couple weeks ago, Buster Posey stayed out of this one. Smartly. 

"After it happened I saw Harper point and the next thing you know he's going out after them," Posey said. "Those are some big guys tumbling on the ground. You see Michael Morse, as big as he is, and he's getting knocked around like a pinball."

Posey is not alone in staying away from these scrums where 250-pound dudes are flying at knees and ankles. Brandon Crawford can often be found on the outside, as well. It's smart, but I think something else was at play here today. Posey understands that the Giants are fighting for every scrap at this point. Every loss digs the hole that much deeper, and this happened with two outs in the eighth inning of a 2-0 game, against a team with a poor bullpen. I'd imagine there was some serious annoyance there. 

--- How angry was Strickland? It took three guys, three big guys, to drag him into the dugout: Pence, Mac Williamson, and George Kontos. 

"I was pretty fired up to be honest with you, but that’s just adrenaline," he said. 

--- Baseball fights are rather silly, but at least you get some phenomenal photos.