The tally for rookie of the year voting balloting came in Monday and, shockingly, for the first time in recent memory, the East Coast sporting bias did not rule the day. The National League award went to San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, the spark plug for the eventual World Series champions. The American League trophy went to Texas Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, who broke the rookie save record with 40 and helped his team reach the World Series.
Although the credibility of all postseason awards took a blow with the preposterous selection of Derek Jeter as the Gold Glove winner for the second straight year, Posey and Feliz were the obvious choices for ROY. And that was despite the tremendous media pressure — ESPN included — for the honor in the senior circuit to go to the young player hyped as the savior of baseball, perhaps the next Hank Aaron, Jason Heyward.
Heyward had a terrific season, batting .277 with 18 home runs, 77 RBIs and 11 stolen bases, but he was not the best rookie in the National League this year. That distinction belonged to Buster Posey by far.
Posey finished the year with a .305 batting average, 18 home runs and 67 RBIs. Although those numbers might look similar to Heyward’s, it is important to remember that Posey did just as much offensively as Heyward with significantly fewer games played and times at bat. Plus, when defense comes into play there really isn’t much of an argument; Posey catches while Heyward plays right field. One is the hardest defensive position in the game. The other is the perhaps the easiest. I hope you can figure out which is which.
As the catcher of the Giants, Buster managed his staff to one of the most impressive pitching runs in baseball history culminating with the first World Series crown in San Francisco history. He took a beating behind the plate and he used his cannon of an arm to throw out 37% of base stealers. Veterans always say that catcher is the hardest position to fully grasp. Well at 23, Buster Posey is looking like a polished veteran who has been doing it for years.
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