By Chris Haft
A select few players can be regarded as good enough to have excelled in any era. For the San Francisco Giants, Buster Posey stands out as this transcendent type of performer.
Willie McCovey, the Giants' legendary first baseman, paid Posey this compliment a few years ago: "Buster," said McCovey, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, "could have played with us."
In other words, McCovey firmly believed that Posey would have fit nicely alongside himself, Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, the Alou brothers and other classic Giants who formed impressive teams and were responsible for establishing the franchise in Northern California after it vacated New York following the 1957 season.
Told of McCovey's remark, Posey said, "It’s extremely humbling ... I’m very honored to know that he said that."
Then again, what else can be said about Posey? He earned Rookie of the Year honors in 2010 and won the National League Most Valuable Player Award, along as the league's batting title, in 2012. The Leesburg, Ga., native is well-acquainted with personal accolades, as his six All-Star selections demonstrate, as well as team triumphs, such as the Giants' World Series triumphs in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
This shapes up as an intriguing season for Posey, who turns 34 on March 27. Having adopted twins that were born prematurely and as the COVID-19 threat loomed over society, Posey declined to play in 2020 -- with the Giants' blessing. Now he's back and ready to lead San Francisco on what appears to be a challenging pursuit of the World Series champion Dodgers and the richly talented Padres in the NL West.
No sane observer believes that the one-year layoff will hamper Posey, a career .302 hitter. He missed virtually an entire season in 2011, appearing in only 45 games before multiple left leg injuries sustained in a home-plate collision sidelined him for the year in late May. He followed that up with his MVP year.
Respect for Posey has grown steadily since the Giants drafted him in the first round (fifth overall) in 2008. While fulfilling expectations of producing offensively, he also became a master at handling not just pitchers but also pitches. He's widely considered an expert at "framing" strikes, prompting a called third strike or two that normally wouldn't be called.
As always, Posey will remain intent on his one of his primary off-field endeavors, overseeing the growth of the Buster and Kristen Posey Fund for Pediatric Cancer Awareness. The couple created the fund in 2016 to raise awareness and funds for pioneering research and treatment for cancer-stricken youths.
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