Comparisons to Johnny Bench, another catcher, are one thing. But did you realize that Buster Posey has actually been Willie Mays all over again?
Yes, that Willie Mays.
In case you missed her post on ESPN's Sweetspot in late October, Anna McDonald noted the eerie parallels between the first few seasons of Mays' and Posey's careers. The BBWAA awarded Posey the NL MVP award on Thursday, keeping him on a pace that's — well — kind of A-Mays-ing.
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Here's what McDonald wrote just before the World Series:
Willie Mays came to the majors on May 25, 1951. He would win the Rookie of the Year Award and help lead the Giants to the National League pennant. He batted .274 with 59 runs, 20 home runs and 68 RBIs.
Buster Posey came up to the majors (after a few plate appearances in 2009) on May 29, 2010. He won the Rookie of the Year Award, led the Giants to the National League pennant and then to a World Series championship. He batted .305, scored 58 runs, and hit 18 home runs with 67 RBIs.
Then in 1952 and 1953 Mays played in only 34 games because of military service. In 2011 Posey played in only 45 games because of a broken leg from a horrible injury at home plate which would sideline him for the year.
The next year for Mays was 1954. He batted .345 with 119 runs, 195 hits, 66 walks and 110 RBIs. Mays went to the All-Star Game and won the MVP. Posey, this year, batted .336 with 78 runs, 178 hits, 69 walks and had 103 RBIs.
And the Giants won the World Series with Posey winning the NL MVP award for the regular season. Odd! Did you also know that John F. Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln?!
OK, so Posey doesn't really have all that much in common with Mays. Posey stands three inches taller and is listed as weighing 50 more pounds (wow) than Mays in his prime. They don't play the same position, of course. Mays was a wizard in center field and had more than 300 stolen bases in his career. They're very different players, about as different as two great players can be.
And yet, both are in lock-step with each other in certain, very notable ways. So far, at least. What will 2013 portend for Posey and the Giants? In 1955, Mays finished fourth in MVP voting (putting up nearly identical statistics to '54) and the Giants slumped to 80 victories and third place in the NL. It's not unreasonable that Posey and the current Giants could repeat that.
But for now, the only obvious divergence will make itself evident in 2016, when the Giants don't move back to the Polo Grounds in New York. Probably.
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