Some years, voting for one of the Baseball Writers' Association of America Awards can keep you up nights. If my vote this year was for the American League Most Valuable Player, I think I'd be tossing and turning all the way through next spring training.
As it happened, though, my vote in 2012 was for the NL MVP. And since casting it the night the regular season ended on Oct. 3, I've been sleeping like a bear mid-winter.
Nobody impacts a game the way a catcher does.
And nobody impacted the 2012 NL West champion Giants the way Posey did.
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Notice, I referred to the division-champion Giants rather than to the World Series winners, and that was on purpose. For those who might still be learning the ins and outs of voting, ballots are due before the playoffs begin. The postseason is not factored into these regular-season awards.
For me, the biggest debate this year was between Posey and the Cardinals' Yadier Molina. This had nothing to do, by the way, with Ryan Braun's failed performance-enhancing drug test following his 2011 MVP award, which he successfully appealed (the PED test, not the award!). I hold no grudge, nor did I factor this in while filling out this year's ballot.
Rather, I reverted back to the premise outlined above: Nobody impacts a game the way a catcher does. And Posey and Molina each had singularly sensational summers.
Posey finished at .336/.408/.549 with 24 homers and 103 RBI. He led the majors with a 172 OPS+ (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage and adjusted to the players' home ballpark). When the Giants lost Melky Cabrera to a PED suspension and appeared to be in danger of falling back in the NL West, Posey threw the team on his back and powered forward. His second-half numbers were incredible: .385/.456/.646 with 14 homers and 60 RBI in 71 games.
Without Posey, the Giants were nowhere close to being in position to win a second World Series in three seasons. He won the batting title thanks to Cabrera's withdrawal. Behind the plate, he put down all the right fingers, from Matt Cain's June 13 perfect game to working the point as manager Bruce Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti successfully maneuvered a bullpen-by-committee closer approach in the year-long absence of Brian Wilson.
Not to diminish another seriously productive season from Braun (.319/.391/.595 with 41 homers and 112 RBI) but, for me, Posey and Molina separated themselves from the pack (even if ever so slightly from Braun).
Molina clearly is the game's best defensive catcher and, even at that, he produced a seriously underrated defensive season. He threw out 48 percent of opposing baserunners attepting to steal. Forty-eight percent! Had Mitt Romney talked up that instead of his other 47 percent, he would have won the presidential election in a landslide (joking, people).
Put that with Molina's career offensive season (his .315 batting average, .373 on-base percentage, .501 slugging percentage, 22 homers, 76 RBI, 65 runs scored and 159 hits all were career highs), and the MVP award easily could tilt his way.
As it is, aside from Posey's second half, I factored into my equation the Giants' division title, and St. Louis' second-place NL Central finish, if ever so slightly.
The rest of my ballot: 3. Braun, Brewers. 4. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates. 5. David Wright, Mets. 6. Chase Headley, Padres. 7. Joey Votto, Reds. 8. Martin Prado, Braves. 9. Matt Holliday, Cardinals. 10. Craig Kimbrel, Braves.