Buster

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Buster Posey’s offensive numbers at roughly the midway point of the season include nine home runs, 15 doubles, 33 runs scored, 41 runs batted in with a .286 batting average, and are good enough to have earned him a spot on the National League All-Star team.

He wasn’t picked, but the 2010 Rookie of the Year has something bigger on his mind like helping San Francisco qualify for the playoffs and possibly winning its third World Series title in five seasons.

After a torrid start that saw the Giants race to a 42-21 record on June 9, nine and a half games ahead of the Dodgers, they have struggled, especially at the plate.

The same can’t be said of their starting pitching, which has been solid and led by Tim Hudson, who is 7-5 with a 2.53 earned-run average, and Madison Bumgarner (9-6 and 3.09 ERA).

This past weekend, San Francisco (49-39) played a three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park, took two of three and are a half game behind the Dodgers.

In Sunday’s 5-3 win with two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum (8-5 with a 3.91 ERA) on the hill, Manager Bruce Bochy sat Posey, while in Saturday’s 5-3 triumph that wasn’t clinched until Brandon Belt’s two-run homer in the 10th inning, and started by Hudson, who left after six innings, the 27-year-old Posey, a catcher, doubled in four at-bats, and in Friday’s 2-0 defeat, Posey singled in four at-bats as Matt Cain (1-7 and 4.27 ERA) absorbed the loss.

Posey was drafted by the Angels in the 50th round as a senior at Lee County High in Leesburg, Georgia, in 2005, but didn’t sign and elected to attend Florida State where he batted .346 with four homers and 48 RBIs as a freshman.

At the urging of Mike Martin Jr., the assistant coach, Posey switched from shortstop to catcher before his sophomore year and quickly settled in. That season Posey had 65 RBIs with three homers and a .382 batting average.

By his junior year, Posey became the nation’s best receiver while finishing with 93 RBIs, swatting 26 homers and hitting at a .463 clip.

For his effort, Posey picked up the Johnny Bench trophy as the top catcher, was named the Golden Spikes winner which marks the best college player, and the Giants took Posey with the No. 5 pick in the 2008 amateur draft.

The pitcher controls the action because nothing can happen until he unleashes the baseball, but also must work with the catcher, and Posey, who also plays first base, not only handles the pitching staff with aplomb, is a defensive wizard, fielding at a .992 percentage while making only 26 errors in 3,433 chances behind the plate.

A two-time All-Star, Posey scooped up the 2012 Most Valuable Player award after socking a personal-best 24 homers, driving in a career-high 103 runs with a best-ever 39 doubles and batting a league-leading .336.

In 2010, Posey’s first full season, he slammed 18 homers with 23 doubles and 67 RBIs, batted .305 and pushed the Giants to a five-game win over the Texas Rangers in the World Series while hitting .300 with a homer and two RBIs.

Two years later the Giants swept the Detroit Tigers in the World Series as Posey homered, drove in three runs while batting .267.

Though Posey won’t be in the All-Star Game in Minneapolis, he may be in the Fall Classic, and that’s more important.

Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at richsports5@sbcglobal.net.

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