Buster Posey honored with NL MVP Award

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Buster Posey honored with NL MVP Award

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.

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.