Top 20 Volcanoes players of all time: #1 Buster Posey

For the better part of the last decade, Buster Posey has been the face of the San Francisco Giants franchise (Daniel Shirey/Getty Images).

The top spot on the list of the Keizertimes top 20 greatest Volcanoes players of all time goes to Buster Posey. As one of the most accomplished catchers of the 21st century, Posey has won four Silver Slugger awards and a Gold Glove to go along with his three World Series rings. Posey also was the National League (NL) Rookie of the Year in 2010 and the league MVP in 2012.

Posey grew up in Georgia and was a four-sport athlete in high school. During his senior season, he was named the Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year, the Louisville Slugger State Player of the Year, an EA Sports All-American, and a Baseball America All-American.  

Posey attended Florida State University from 2006-08 and was arguably the best player in school history. After receiving first-team All-American honors in his sophomore season, Posey easily established himself as the top player in the country the following year.

In his junior season, Posey hit .463 with 29 homers and 93 RBIs. He won the Johnny Bench Award as the nation’s best catcher and was named the Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year. He was also given the Golden Spikes award as the country’s best amateur player. 

On May 12, 2008, Posey played all nine fielding positions and hit a grand slam in a 10-0 victory over Savannah State. 

Baseball America touted Posey as the best available catcher in the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft — the San Francisco Giants selected Posey with the fifth overall pick. Posey officially signed with the Giants on Aug. 16, 2008 and was given a $6.2 million signing bonus — which was the largest up-front signing bonus in team history.

Posey only played three games with the Volcanoes in 2008. He hit two doubles and had a pair of RBIs. In 2009, Posey spent the majority of the year in Advanced Single-A in San Jose. He batted .326 with 63 runs, 95 hits, 23 doubles, 13 homers and 58 RBIs in 80 games.

Posey was moved up to Triple-A in Fresno later in the year and hit .321 with 21 runs scored, 42 hits, eight doubles, five homers and 22 RBIs in 35 games.

Due to an injury to San Francisco catcher Bengie Molina, Posey was called up to join the Giants on Sept. 2, 2009. However he didn’t make his debut until Sept. 11. Posey was mainly used as a reserve to conclude the San Francisco season and only had two hits in 17 at-bats. But the following year, Posey showed the Giants, and the MLB world, that he was more than prepared for the big leagues.

Posey began the season in Triple-A, where he proved to be dominant over 47 games, batting .349 with 31 runs scored, 60 hits, 13 doubles, six homers and 32 RBIs. On May 29, 2010, Posey was called back up to the big leagues, and his impact with the Giants was immediate. 

In his first game of the year, Posey went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. He hit his first homer on June 9, 2010 off Aaron Harang of the Cincinnati Reds. Posey mostly played first base in the first two months of his 2010 tenure with the Giants, but when Molina was traded to the Texas Rangers on June 30, Posey became the Giants full-time catcher. 

From July 1 to July 10, Posey batted .514 and had 19 hits and six homers, including his first career grand slam on July 7. Posey also had 13 RBIs during the stretch, the most ever by a rookie during a 10-game span — he was named NL Player of the Week for the week of July 5-11. 

Posey also had a 21-game hit streak during the month of July, falling one game short of the Giants rookie record, which is held by Willie McCovey. He was named NL Player of the Month in July 2010. 

Posey finished the season batting .305 with 58 runs scored, 124 hits, 23 doubles, 18 homers and 67 RBIs and was named the NL Rookie of the Year — he also nearly finished in the top 10 for NL MVP voting. 

During the final game of the season, Posey hit a key solo homer against the San Diego Padres to propel the Giants to the NL West division title. 

In the NL Division Series (NLDS), Posey batted .375 as the Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves in four games. Even though he was inconsistent at the plate in the NL Championship Series (NLCS), Posey led the Giants to a key victory against the Philadelphia Phillies in game four of the series, going 4-for-5 with a pair of RBIs in the 6-5 victory — he was the first rookie ever to record four hits in an NLCS game.

In game four of the World Series, Posey and rookie battery mate Madison Bumgarner became the first rookie starting pitcher-catcher tandem in a World Series game since 1947. In the same game, Posey hit his first postseason homer, leading the Giants to a 4-0 win. With the homer, Posey became the fifth rookie catcher to ever hit a home run in the playoffs. 

Posey caught every inning of the 2010 postseason, helping the Giants to a World Series title after defeating the Rangers in five games. 

In 2011, Posey missed the majority of the season after suffering a season-ending ankle injury on May 25. Posey was injured on a play at the plate by Scott Cousins of the Florida Marlins, who collided with Posey while attempting to score on a sacrifice fly — Cousins admitted later that he ran into Posey intentionally but did not intend to injure Posey. 

In the aftermath of the violent play, the MLB adopted rule 7.13 during in 2014 — otherwise known as the “Buster Posey Rule.” The rule states that “a runner attempting to score may not deviate from his direct pathway to the plate in order to initiate contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate). If, in the judgment of the umpire, a runner attempting to score initiates contact with the catcher (or other player covering home plate) in such a manner, the umpire shall declare the runner out (even if the player covering home plate loses possession of the ball).”

However, Posey came back healthy in 2012 to have the best season of his career. He was selected to his first All-Star Game after hitting .289 with 10 homers and 43 RBIs in the first half of the season. In the final 71 games, Posey went on a rampant tear, batting .385 with 14 homers and 60 RBIs. He also hit his first game-winning homer against Lance Lynn of the St. Louis Cardinals in a 4-2 win on Aug. 7. Additionally, he caught the 22nd perfect game in MLB history on June 13, 2012 — pitched by Matt Cain.

Posey had 24 homers and 103 RBIs in 2012 and his .336 batting average was the top mark in MLB — he became the second player in franchise history to win the batting title. Posey was also the first catcher to lead the NL in hitting since 1942. His incredible .433 average against left-handed pitching was also the best in the big leagues. 

When the postseason began, Posey picked up right where he left off. In the deciding game five of the NLDS against the Reds, Posey hit a grand slam off Mat Latos to help the Giants win the game 6-0 and clinch the series. Posey became the third catcher in the big leagues to hit a grand slam in the postseason. 

Posey’s hit another homer in a series-clinching situation in the 2012 World Series as he took Tigers ace Max Scherzer deep to put the Giants back on top in the top of the sixth. The Giants swept the series and Posey was awarded his second World Series ring. 

After the season, numerous accolades came rolling in for Posey, including the NL MVP and his first Silver Slugger Award. He was also given the NL Hank Aaron Award, and was named the NL Comeback Player of the Year. 

On March 29, 2013, Posey signed an eight-year contract extension worth $167 million — the agreement was the second largest for a catcher in MLB history. 

Posey production regressed slightly in 2013, but he still had 15 homers and 72 RBIs while batting .294. He received the NL Player of the Week honor for June 23-29 and was named to his second straight All-Star Game. He also caught Tim Linceum’s first no-hitter on July 13. 

Despite not being selected to his third straight All-Star Game, Posey put together one of his best seasons in 2014, batting .311 with 22 homers and 89 RBIs. he also won his second Silver Slugger Award in three years and finished sixth in NL MVP voting. 

On July 13, 2014, Posey and Bumgarner each hit grand slams in an 8-4 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was the first time ever that a catcher and a pitcher each hit grand slams in the same game. 

On Aug. 29, 2014, Posey went 5-for-5 in a game against the Milwaukee Brewers, becoming the only catcher in team history to have multiple five-hit games. 

He batted .389 in the 2014 NLDS against the Washington Nationals as the Giants advanced after winning the series in four games. For the third straight postseason, Posey was behind the dish in every game for the Giants, who won their third World Series in five years after defeating the Kansas City Royals in seven games. 

In 2015, Posey was selected to his third All-Star game and led the voting for all catchers. With a .318 batting average, 19 homers, and 95 RBIs, Posey was given his third Silver Slugger Award. He was also named the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award, given to the best catcher in MLB. 

In a 9-5 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 19, 2015, Posey hit a grand slam and stole a base, becoming the first Giants catcher in over 100 years to accomplish the feat. Nearly three months later, Posey hit his 100th homer in a win over the Colorado Rockies. 

On June 9, 2015, Posey caught his third no-hitter when Giants pitcher Chris Heston no-hit the New York Mets. Posey has now caught three no-hitters, which is the second most all-time.

One of Posey’s biggest highlights in the 2016 season came on May 28 when he drove in a career-high of six runs in the Giants 10-5 win over the Rockies — it was the second most RBIs by a Giants catcher in the San Francisco era. Posey was also selected to his fourth All-Star Game and got to catch for his teammate Johnny Cueto. It was the second time he got to catch for a teammate in the All-Star Game (Cain in 2012).

On Sept. 27, 2016, Posey recorded his 1,000th hit, a solo homer against the Rockies. He finished the year batting .288 with 14 homers and 80 RBIs. He also had a career-high of 82 runs scored.

Although Posey had been one of the best catchers in the league for the last five years according to advanced metrics, he was finally recognized with his first Gold Glove award in 2016. 

Posey hit .333 in the NLDS that year, but the Giants fell to the eventual champion, Chicago Cubs, in four games. 

Despite getting injured in the season opener, Posey got off to a hot start once he came back in 2017. From May 8-10, Posey homered in three straight games against the Mets. Then on May 12, Posey hit a walk-off homer against the Reds in a 17-inning marathon contest. 

At the All-Star break, Posey led the NL in hitting with a .339 average. He was named to his fifth All-Star game and made his third consecutive start. He ended the year with a .320 batting average with 12 homers and 67 RBIs. He also won his fourth Silver Slugger. 

Posey was an all-star selection yet again in 2018, but a nagging hip injury kept him from playing in the game. He elected to have hip surgery in August, which ended his 2018 season. In 2019, Posey hit .257 seven homers and 38 RBIs.

Posey opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 and the adoption of premature twin girls with his wife, Kristen. 

Though the pandemic is still ongoing, Posey plans to play with the Giants in 2021 — which is the final year of his current contract that he signed in 2012. He is considered one of the most important figures in the franchise’s rich history.