SAN FRANCISCO Buster Poseys trophy case already included a Silver Slugger, a Comeback Player of the Year honor, the prestigious Hank Aaron Award for offensive excellence and a claim check to collect his second World Series ring.To nobodys surprise, he added a centerpiece trophy on Thursday. Posey was named the National Leagues Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers Association of America, whose voters made him the clear and overwhelming selection.Posey received 27 of a possible 32 first-place votes for a landslide victory with 422 points. Ryan Braun finished in second place with 285 points and three first-place votes. Ryan Braun finished third with 245 points but did not receive any first-place votes. Yadier Molina received the final two first-place votes and finished in fourth place with 241 points.Posey became the first catcher to win the NL award since Johnny Bench in 1972, and just the second NL backstop since Roy Campanella took the award in 1951, 53 in 1955. Its elite company for Posey, who already made history during the regular season when he hit .336 to lead the majors becoming the first NL catcher to win a batting crown since Ernie Lombardi in 1942.Posey also led the NL with a .408 on-base percentage, hit 24 home runs and finished with 104 RBIs the first Giant to drive in 100 runs since Barry Bonds in 2004. Not coincidentally, Bonds won the last of his seven MVP awards that season the last Giant to do so before Posey.Posey joins Bonds, Jeff Kent, Kevin Mitchell, Willie McCovey, Willie Mays, Carl Hubbell and Larry Doyle as the only players to win a league MVP award in a Giants uniform. Posey is the first MVP to be drafted and developed by the organization since McCovey in 1959.Ballots were due before the playoffs, but voters recognized what Posey meant to the Giants as they persevered through the loss of closer Brian Wilson to elbow surgery and the Aug. 15 suspension of Melky Cabrera, who was leading the majors in hits and runs when his positive test for exogenous testosterone was made public.Posey only cranked up his production in the second half. He hit .385 with a .456 on-base percentage and .646 slugging percentage in 71 games after the All-Star break; he had 23 doubles, 14 homers and 60 RBIs after the break as well.This guy is an incredible talent, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said in the moments after his team won the World Series in Detroit. His makeup is off the chart.He's, to me, the MVP, no question. We know how he carried us all year with the bat. But I think as important as atbat is what he did behind the plate in postseason and helped getting this pitching on track.He's the one putting the fingers down and calling those games back there, and this pitching did an unbelievable job against such a tough lineup.He did all of this one year after targeted hit at home plate tore three ankle ligaments, fractured his fibula and left him unable to walk for four months while he recuperated from two surgeries. Bochy paced Posey through the season with occasional starts at first base, but he still ended up exceeded expectations for innings and games caught.He's special, Bochy said. For him to come back off that injury shows you not only how tough he is, but what a special talent this guy is.
SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Moore knew there was something different about his final home start at AT&T Park this season, and not just the fact that he received a loud ovation as he walked off the mound in the seventh. Moore noted later that the outing was the first shutout he has been a part of this year. In fact, it was the first time in 30 starts that he walked off the mound without having allowed a run.
“I guess it’s better late than never,” he said.
The Giants are hoping it’s actually a preview of things to come. They counted on Moore to be a big part of their 2017 push, but instead, he likely will finish with the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the National League. Still, general manager Bobby Evans has informed Moore that his 2018 option will be picked up, something that Moore appreciated given the time of year.
“I always pictured myself here,” he said.
Whether coincidence or some kind of “weight off the shoulders” situation, Moore’s first start since the public revealing of the decision was his most encouraging of the year. Facing a good lineup, and a team that needed a win desperately, he pitched six shutout innings. The Giants beat the Rockies 4-0.
Moore was already showing signs of life, with a 3.76 ERA over his seven previous appearances. Bruce Bochy viewed this as another step forward.
“It’s been getting better and better with each start,” he said. “What he did really well today was on the arm side. He had good balance to both sides of the plate.”
Moore peppered the outside corner with fastballs, and he credited catcher Nick Hundley with stealing a few strikes. The plan allowed Moore to put hitters away in big spots, one of three points of emphasis he brought into the second half. The other two: limiting lefties and getting ahead of hitters.
That’s Moore’s roadmap back to being the player the Giants acquired. For the team as a whole, the roadmap back to relevance is similar to Wednesday’s plan. This is not a home-run hitting lineup, but the Giants are 47-21 when scoring four runs, and Wednesday was a reminder of the different paths to that magical number.
Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, but the first two runs came on sacrifice flies and the fourth on a walk-wild pitch-single combination. Bochy said he liked “the brand of ball” his team played.
“They executed so well today,” he said. “It’s just good baseball, and that’s what I felt good about.”
SAN FRANCISCO — A couple of weeks ago, a Giants official expressed amazement about how little was known about the desires of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani.
“Teams know just about as much as you guys (in the media),” he said.
The Giants are hoping that changes this week. General manager Bobby Evans and assistant GM Jeremy Shelley have traveled to Japan to take a look at the 23-year-old, who reportedly will come over to play in Major League Baseball next season.
“There’s going to be a lot of attention on him and it’s part of the scouting process every club goes through,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s doing our due diligence, as you say.”
Otani is a rare prospect, a potential ace on the mound and lineup-altering bat in the outfield. He has 47 homers in just over 1,000 professional at-bats, and this season he’s batting .341. As a hard-throwing pitcher with a wipeout breaking ball, Otani has a 2.57 career ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He had a 1.86 ERA last season with 174 strikeouts in 140 innings.
Because he’s said to be coming over at such a young age, Otani will sacrifice the chance to sign a massive contract. The CBA limits him to collecting money from a team’s international bonus pool, and the Giants are limited to $300,000. Still, some other big-market teams are in the same boat, and despite their lack of pool money and poor season, the Giants surely believe they have plenty to offer.
It’s not known what Otani is looking for, but perhaps he wants to play in a big city to make up some of his lost earnings? Perhaps he wants to play on the West Coast, closer to his home country, or in a region with a big Japanese population? Perhaps he’s just a big Buster Posey fan? The Giants intend to find out, and to be in the bidding.
It’s possible that Otani has seen the way Bochy uses Madison Bumgarner as a pinch-hitter, but Bochy said he can’t imagine using a true two-way player.
“I don’t think it would work,” he said. “You’re talking more of something that might work in the American League. That’s a lot of throwing and wear-and-tear.”