October 21, 2010
Entering Wednesday's Game 4 against the Philadelphia Phillies, San Francisco Giants rookie catcher Buster Posey(notes) had the same number of RBIs as you, me and Ryan Howard(notes) put together in the 2010 playoffs.
By the end of the evening, nobody remembered or cared about that silly statistic.
The Giants phenom — whom I went out on a sturdy branch to label a difference-maker coming into this series — found his groove early and delivered one of the most fantastic all-around performances I can recall witnessing on a big stage.
I'm not just talking about rookies, or catchers, or baseball, or guys named Buster, I'm talking about one of the best all-around performances by anyone, in pretty much any sport, on a big stage. He absolutely owned this game from beginning to end and his fingerprints were all over every turning point for the Giants.
1st inning — Posey gets the Giants on the board with a two-strike, two-out single up the middle for a 1-0 San Francisco lead and it's here that he starts a running theme. Posey is a hitting machine with two strikes and/or two outs.
3rd inning — With two outs in the inning again, Posey takes one off his shoetops and ropes it over the head of Ben Francisco(notes) in left field for a double. Aubrey Huff(notes) comes around for the Giants' second run. 2-0, San Fran.
5th Inning (top) — Posey proves that he's not just here to swing a bat and finishes one of the best defensive plays of the postseason when he made a short-hop catch off a throw from center fielder Aaron Rowand(notes) and tagged Carlos Ruiz(notes) out at the plate.
Though the Phillies would go on to score three more runs in that frame, there's no telling how much bigger that inning would have been if Posey had not completed all three phases of a very difficult play as smoothly as he did.
5th inning (bottom) — Posey strikes out swinging. Hey, nobody's perfect.
7th Inning — Back to offense. With a 2-2 count, Posey lines a double to the opposite field. Textbook two-strike hitting that set the tone for the biggest at-bat of his big league career.
9th Inning — Winning run on first with one out: Roy Oswalt(notes), who obviously didn't see Posey's previous at bat, leaves a two-strike pitch too close to the edge of the plate, and Posey flips it expertly into right field, advancing Aubrey Huff to third.
Credit obviously goes to Huff and Uribe for performing their roles, but the story here is Posey's breakthrough. Check out the elite company he joined.
Posey went 4-for-5 overall, becoming just the 13th player in baseball history to have a four-hit game in the playoffs at age 23 or younger. And it’s a helluva list: Miguel Cabrera(notes), Derek Jeter(notes), Manny Ramirez(notes), Lenny Dyskstra, Joe Garogiola, Hank Greenberg, Joe Medwick, Freddie Lindstrom, Goose Goslin, Frankie Frisch, Donnie Bush, Ty Cobb.
Every superstar has a signature performance that adjusts his status from potential to arrived. What we all witnessed on Wednesday was that signature performance for Buster Posey. He has arrived, and he's not going to go away for a long time.
That's a really big short-term problem for the Phillies, a massive problem for the entire National League over the long haul, but a real treat for baseball fans to witness what should be a special career.