“I focused too much in spring training about defense, defense, defense,” Cabrera said. “I forgot a little bit about hitting, about getting in the cage like I normally do.”
In spring training, Posey’s focus was just to get back on the field. His 2011 season was cut short by a collision with the Marlins’ Scott Cousins on May 25 that resulted in a fractured bone in Posey’s lower left leg and three torn ankle ligaments.
Posey not only returned, he became the first catcher in 70 years to win the NL batting title and helped San Francisco win its second World Series championship in three seasons.
“I definitely have a deeper appreciation for being able to play baseball,” he said. “I’ve seen that it can be taken away quick.”
The first catcher in four decades to win the NL award, Posey got 27 of 32 firsts and 422 points to outdistance 2011 winner Ryan Braun of Milwaukee, who was second with 285 points.
Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen (245) was third, followed by St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina (241).
Posey, a boyish-looking 25, was the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year as the Giants won their first World Series since 1954. This year he set career highs with a .336 average, 24 homers and 103 RBI as San Francisco won again.
Posey took the NL batting title after teammate Melky Cabrera requested a rules change that disqualified him. Cabrera, who hit .346, missed the final 45 games of the regular-season while serving a suspension for a positive testosterone test and would have won the batting crown if the rule hadn’t been changed.
Ernie Lombardi had been the previous catcher to capture the NL batting championship, in 1942.
“I think anybody that has caught before understands the grind of catching, not only the physical, the nicks, the wear and tear of squatting for nine innings night in, day out, but just the mental grind of working a pitching staff,” Posey said. “It’s demanding.”
Notes: In his first season with the Angels, Albert Pujols didn’t finish among the top 10 for the first time in his career. While with St. Louis, he won three times, was second four times and also finished third, fourth, fifth and ninth. … Catchers have won the NL MVP just eight times, with Posey joining Gabby Hartnett (1935), Lombardi (1938), Roy Campanella (1951, 1953, 1955) and Johnny Bench (1970, 1972). Posey became the first Giants player to win since Barry Bonds was voted his record seventh MVP award in 2004. … Cabrera earned a $500,000 bonus, Adrian Beltre $150,000 for finishing third in the AL and Josh Hamilton $50,000 for fifth place. Braun gets a $75,000 bonus, and McCutchen and Molina $50,000 each. The Yankees’ Derek Jeter finished seventh in the AL, one place below the level where his 2014 player option would have increased by $2 million to $10 million.