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Buster Posey’s path to greatness

Buster Posey is the King of San Francisco. And his treasure chest keeps growing.

In 2008, Posey won the Golden Spikes Award given to the best player in college baseball. In 2010, he took home the Rookie of the Year and won a World Series ring.

Now, in 2012, Posey has captured the National League batting title and is probably going to win the NL MVP. He’s also got a good shot at taking home the NL Comeback Player of the Year award.

And, of course, the Giants have a team worthy of earning a second championship ring for Posey.

Don’t forget, this season was Posey’s first complete major league campaign. In 2010, he made his season debut on May 29. His 2011 campaign was cut short on May 25.

After Posey’s gruesome leg injury last year, there was concern Posey might not return to the level of production he had in 2010, and if he’d be able to stay at catcher full-time.

But those concerns have basically evaporated, especially after Posey made a late push to pass Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen for the NL batting crown.

Posey finished the season with a .336 average, 24 home runs and 103 RBI, the first Giants player to surpass the century mark since Barry Bonds in 2004.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark picked Posey as his MVP, noting Posey became just the second catcher in the past 70 years to win the batting title. The other? Joe Mauer, who won it in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

And questions about Posey’s durability were answered this season. He played in 148 games, starting at catcher in 111 those games.

Manager Bruce Bochy appreciates Posey’s value:

“To come off an injury, a devastating injury like he had, and not only have a good year but to win a batting title — it’s truly amazing to me. I couldn’t be happier for him not just coming back but being the force that he is. Now that he’s won the batting title, I have to think he’s the MVP.”

Posey is building quite the legacy for himself. He’s the team leader. He’s the heart and soul of the team. The Giants took off when he arrived in 2010 and disappeared when he went down in 2011.

This year, they are back in the playoffs with Posey leading the way, and Bochy knows he’s the driving force:

“We’re not in this situation without Buster. He’s so valuable with the way he catches, handles the staff and hits cleanup while handling all that’s thrown at him. He comes out here every day ready to go and ready to lead by example.”

Think Derek Jeter. Think Tom Brady. Posey came in and changed the direction of the franchise. He makes everyone around him better.

And the whole Giants organization realizes it. For all the awards Posey might take home this year, one of the biggest he’ll receive is the one his teammates voted him the winner of: The Willie Mac Award. Given to each season’s most inspirational Giant, there was clearly no other choice.

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