Last year, shortly after the injury, SB Nation published an article from a doctor who suggested Buster Posey could come back in time for the playoffs. This was a sliver of hope, see. I tweeted a link out, just as anyone still in stage one of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief might have done. There was doom and gloom and reality to be found later, but for a a brief, brief moment, there were straws at which to grasp.
Sam Miller, because he is an awful human being, responded with a link to a story about the Angels saying the same exact thing about Kendrys Morales. This was noteworthy because Morales was supposed to be back at the end of 2010, then he was supposed to be back by the start of 2011, then he missed 2011 entirely. Morales didn't have the same injury as Posey -- though he often refers to home plate as "the inanimate Scott Cousins" -- but it was still a chilling comparison.
Then there were the Jason Kendall comparisons. One thing that always bugged me about those is that Kendall had a fantastic, All Star season after his horrific ankle injury. He hit his career high in home runs that year, and he stole 22 bases. I have no idea what happened to him the following year, but there was never a direct chain of causality with the injury. That didn't mean the mere mention of Kendall's name wasn't going to send me into a panic, though. Jason Kendall was a catcher before May, 2011. After that, he was a bogeyman that kept me up at night.
At this time last year, we weren't even sure if he'd catch again. It was news when he was running in January. Three months before there were games, it was news that a baseball player could run. The quotes were cautiously optimistic and really guarded:
"For Jan. 9, he's doing pretty well," Groeschner said.
I didn't want to read that. I wanted to read, "I've never seen a recovery like this." I wanted to read, "HE HAS THE FACE OF CAPTAIN AMERICA, BUT HE HEALS LIKE WOLVERINE." I wanted boundless optimism. You know, the kind that would make you think Posey would somehow come back and be even better than he was before.
Quotes like that made me hope for a stepping stone of a season. Something that would build to a crescendo next season. But this year was supposed to be about getting back onto the field, hopefully catching 80 or 90 games without incident.
So the injury was one part of why this feels so danged important.
The other part has to do with the post-Matt Williams drought of homegrown hitters. It probably isn't becoming to complain about the lack of homegrown hitters winning the MVP, seeing as the Giants have won 46 percent of the MVPs in the National League since 2000*, so it shouldn't matter if the Giants drafted a guy or picked him up at a yard sale.
But there's something to it. From 2009:
Let's revisit the list of Best Position Players Drafted or Developed since Matt Williams (1986 Draft):
C - Doug Mirabelli
1B - Damon Minor
2B - Deivi Cruz
SS - Royce Clayton
3B - Bill Mueller
LF - Marvin Benard
CF - Chris Singleton
RF - Armando Rios
That was not an embellished list! That wasn't made for the lulz. That was an earnest accounting of a decade-plus of Giants player development. And when the Giants were in the middle of that stretch, it felt like they were never going to get a homegrown star. It was going to be one of those things that perpetuated itself for decades. That would just be what the Giants were known for.
But they got a homegrown star. And he led them to the first two championships in San Francisco history. He started an All-Star Game. And now he's the MVP. The Seinfeld bit about how we root for laundry has some truth to it, but a player like Buster Posey makes us realize that we root for individuals all the time, some of them more than most.
And to see Posey win an MVP, just 18 months after wondering if his career was over, is one of the best experiences I've ever had rooting for an individual player. It's up there with Matt Cain's perfect game and Ryan Vogelsong's World Series win, which, huh, I guess this was a pretty neat season, guys. It's not like Posey's MVP is one more thing to throw atop the pile, either; it's as special as anything that happened this year.
Everything about Giants baseball has been better since Buster Posey has been around. It's the Golden Age of Giants baseball, even, right up there with the days of Mays, McCovey, and Marichal. You didn't need Posey to win an award to know that. The award still feels like some sort of validation, though. And that's just to a fan. I'm sure it feels like a heckuva lot more to Posey.
Buster Posey: the most valuable player in the National League. Has a ring to it.