The National League MVP candidate no one is talking about

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The San Francisco Giants are making the NL West a three-team race, led by a resurgent Buster Posey.

The San Francisco Giants lost 6-3 to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night, but they are just one game back of the San Diego Padres in the NL West as the division looks like a legit three-team race. Buster Posey continued his resurgent season with a two-run home run Saturday night.

Posey was once one of the best catchers in baseball, with a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, a Gold Glove and batting title on his resume. Time and injuries have eroded his skills in recent years, and he opted out of the 2020 season after he and wife adopted identical twins who were born prematurely. So in some respect, in line with being past his peak, it was “out of sight, out of mind” heading into the 2021 season.

San Francisco Giants: Buster Posey is off to an MVP-caliber start

Posey’s home run Saturday night was his ninth of the season. He has already exceeded his homer totals from 2018 (five) and 2019 (seven), and he’s getting close to the combined total. All told he he has a .355/.430/.635 slash-line with 17 RBI and a 200 OPS+ to go with his nine homers.

It looks like a year out, apart from his personal situation and COVID-19 concerns that drove the decision to opt out, has helped Posey from a physical standpoint. According to Statcast, he’s in the 70th percentile or better in hard hit rate, barrel rate, xSLG, xBA, xwOBA, chase rate and strikeout rate. He is in the 69th percentile in walk rate and whiff rate. So he’s not chasing pitches, he’s making lots of contact and the contact is often impactful.

The Giants appear to have some staying power in the NL West race. If Posey keeps raking like he has been, he’ll enter the NL MVP conversation before too long.

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