Wizards

Buster Posey leads Giants back to World Series

201210221721624763596-p2.jpeg

Buster Posey leads Giants back to World Series

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) On a team known for stellar pitching, bushy beards and quirky personalities, the unquestioned leader of the San Francisco Giants is their understated catcher, Buster Posey.

From his prowess behind the plate, shepherding the staff through its ups and downs, to the bat that won the National League batting title, Posey is the biggest reason the Giants are back in the World Series for the second time in his three big league seasons.

``I'd hate to think where we would be without him,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. ``The numbers, they speak for themselves. But also his leadership on this club. We saw what life was without him last year. ... I don't know a player that's made a bigger impact on a club than what he has on our club. He's just a tremendous talent. We're lucky to have him.''

Posey has returned from a horrific, season-ending injury in 2011 to the top of the sport this year: starting All-Star catcher, batting champion, likely NL Most Valuable Player and World Series trip.

It's a remarkable story that Posey even made it back on the field this year, much less performed the way he did. It was his devastating injury that derailed the Giants' repeat hopes a year ago and led many to question whether Posey should ever catch again.

In May 2011, Posey broke a bone in his left leg and tore three ankle ligaments when bowled over at the plate by the Florida Marlins' Scott Cousins.

``I was excited just to be back on the field at the start of the season,'' Posey said Tuesday. ``I definitely appreciate this year just as much if not more. When I was here in 2010 it seemed like everything happened really, really fast. This year I had the chance to understand the difficulty of a long season and the ups and downs you have over the course of the year. It's something you want to enjoy while you're doing it and soak up every minute of it.''

Sam Francisco never really recovered from that blow and was unable to make it back to the postseason last year without its star catcher.

But his presence at the start of spring training this year set the tone for the entire season in San Francisco. He batted .336 to become the first catcher to win the NL batting title since the Boston Braves' Ernie Lombardi in 1942.

``For what he has been doing behind the plate for us has been tremendous all year,'' ace Matt Cain said. ``He has done such a great job from coming back from last year's injury to doing what he's doing this year. I don't think you can really put it into words what he's done. Not a lot of guys could do what he's done. That's a special talent.''

Posey added 24 homers, 39 doubles and 103 RBIs while managing the pitching staff and dealing with the wear and tear of crouching each night behind the plate and absorbing the foul tips and balls in the dirt that making catching such an arduous chore.

Bochy spelled Posey a bit by giving him 29 starts at first base, but both the Giants and Posey are adamant his future is behind the plate.

``We really treated him with kid gloves there early, and as we got deeper into the spring training I got more and more comfortable with how much he could catch,'' Bochy said. ``This game is not that easy, especially when you miss as much time as he did last year and yet it didn't take him long to get into the flow of the game, get his timing at the plate and get back to handling the pitching staff.''

Posey has been far from his best this postseason as teams have often tried to pitch around him in key spots to face his less dangerous teammates. He batted .178 the first two rounds with two homers and six RBIs, but it was his grand slam that broke open the clinching Game 5 of the division series.

And now he's back in the World Series.

With his boyish looks and supreme talent, Posey is almost a Bay Area version of New York Yankees great Derek Jeter, both heralded first-round picks who helped restore tradition-rich franchises to greatness.

They both won Rookies of the Year and World Series titles in their first seasons, quickly earning the respect of their veteran teammates. Both made it back to the Fall Classic in year three. Each manage to avoid controversy while being his team spokesman.

``Buster is so professional about how he goes about his business,'' Bochy said. ``There is a calmness about him, about the way he plays, very well prepared. He has the ability to slow down the game, and I think he leads by example on how he prepares and how he plays, and how he handles himself. So he's definitely a leader in this ballclub and guys feed off him.''

Posey is the face of the franchise and far different from the last position player to hold that title in San Francisco. He is quintessential anti-Barry Bonds, quickly turning any praise toward him to his teammates even if they may be less deserving. He was even one of the most outspoken Giants criticizing teammate Melky Cabrera this summer when the outfielder got suspended for testing positive for testosterone.

``The more you've played it's a little bit easier to be a leader,'' Posey said. ``I try to help guys any way I can. I want to contribute whether it's pointing something out you might see that somebody is doing or whatever.''

When he was called up as a rookie, there were questions about how he called a game compared to veteran Bengie Molina. But he quickly earned the trust of most of the staff, although Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito threw primarily to backup Hector Sanchez this season.

``We work really well together,'' starter Ryan Vogelsong said. ``He's real easy to work with. He's got a good idea of what he wants to do back there, and he's got a pretty good idea what I want to do on my end. He's great. He's one of the best I've ever thrown to.''

Quick Links

2018 NBA Draft: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

deandre_ayton_usat.jpg
USA Today Sports Images

2018 NBA Draft: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

The 2018 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday night as the newest wave of potential superstars like DeAndre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Mo Bamba and Luka Doncic enter the league. Here is everything you need to know for the big night...

2018 NBA DRAFT

When: 7 p.m.
Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY
TV: ESPN
Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Radio: ESPN

Wizards draft picks: 15th overall in the first round, 44th overall in the second round

First round order:

1. Phoenix Suns
2. Sacramento Kings
3. Atlanta Hawks
4. Memphis Grizzlies
5. Dallas Mavericks
6. Orlando Magic
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
9. New York Knicks
10. Philadelphia 76ers
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. Los Angeles Clippers
13. Los Angeles Clippers
14. Denver Nuggets
15. Washington Wizards
16. Phoenix Suns
17. Milwaukee Bucks
18. San Antonio Spurs
19. Atlanta Hawks
20. Minnesota Timberwolves
21. Utah Jazz
22. Chicago Bulls
23. Indiana Pacers
24.Portland Trail Blazers
25. Los Angeles Lakers
26. Philadelphia 76ers
27. Boston Celtics
28. Golden State Warriors
29. Brooklyn Nets
30. Atlanta Hawks

Top prospects:

1. DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona
2. Marvin Bagley III, Duke
3. Luka Doncic, Slovenia
4. Jaren Jackson, Jr., Michigan State
5. Mo Bamba, Texas
6. Michael Porter, Jr., Missouri
7. Wendell Carter, Duke
8. Trae Young, Oklahoma
9. Collin Sexton, Alabama
10. Kevin Knox, Kentucky

Three things to watch...

Will Leonard get traded?

Last year's draft featured some big trades including Jimmy Butler going to the Timberwolves. This year, there seems to be at least a decent chance it happens with Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs. He wants a trade and they have been meeting with him in recent days, perhaps for a last-ditch pitch to remain with the team. If he gets dealt on draft night, it wouldn't be a huge surprise.

Who will the Kings pick?

A consensus has built for Ayton to go No. 1 to the Suns. After that, it's a major crapshoot and whomever the Kings select will produce a domino effect from there on down. Will they take Bagley, the safe pick, or go a riskier route with Doncic or maybe even Porter, Jr.? The best bet at this point appears to be Bagley, but nobody truly knows.

Where will Young and Porter, Jr. go?

The two most interesting prospects in this draft are Young and Porter, Jr. Young was a sensation in college basketball, but is undersized and appears to be boom-or-bust. He could flame out quickly at the next level or be some iteration of the next Stephen Curry. Porter, Jr. played only three games in college due to a back injury and now has hip issues as well. His talent is undeniable, but his injury history represents significant risk.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

For more on the NBA Draft, check out our preview special episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast:

Quick Links

John Carlson once again an All-Star snub

usatsi_10844332.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

John Carlson once again an All-Star snub

The Capitals' Stanley Cup run may be even more remarkable than we thought considering there were zero all-stars on Washington's roster apparently.

As part of Wednesday's NHL Awards, the First and Second-Team All-Star rosters were released and not a single Capital made either team.

Here is a look at both teams:

In the interest of full disclosure, the All-Star Teams are voted on by members of the Pro Hockey Writers Association of which I am a member. I did not, however, have a vote for the All-Star rosters.

The first thought most Caps fans will have when looking at these teams is what about Alex Ovechkin?

I'm actually OK with Taylor Hall and Claude Giroux getting the nods at left wing.

Hall won the Hart Trophy for what he was able to accomplish in New Jersey in leading a team that looked like a trash heap before the season to a playoff berth. Compare the Devils' roster to the Caps' and there's no question Hall had a lot less to work with than Ovechkin and tallied 93 points as compared to Ovechkin's 87. Giroux finished second in the NHL with 102 points, one of only three players this season to finish in the triple digits. He very narrowly beat out Ovechkin for Second Team honors.

It was a coin flip and Ovechkin lost. That's not what Caps fans should be crying foul over. The fact that John Carlson was not among the four defensive all-stars is a far more egregious omission for which there is no excuse.

After inexplicably being excluded from the NHL All-Star Game in January, Carlson was snubbed once again as he came in fifth in the voting.

Just what does Carlson have to do to get some recognition?

No defenseman in the entire NHL had more points than Carlson's 68 this season. That's not just because of increased minutes as Carlson finished 13th among defensemen in ice time per game.

But being a good defenseman is not about the offensive stats.

That's right. Now go ahead and show me which of the four who finished ahead of Carlson was partnered with a rookie for most of the season. I'll wait.

The answer is none of them.

It's very easy now to look at the Capitals as a team that had all the pieces in place and managed to put it all together at the right time to go on a Cup run, but that's not what happened this season. Carlson was very heavily relied upon by the Capitals during the regular season when the blue line was an obvious weakness, especially after an injury forced Matt Niskanen out of the lineup for 14 games. Carlson was averaging nearly 30 minutes per game in Niskanen's absence. Carlson also spent the majority of the season with his primary partner being a rookie in Christian Djoos.

Charlie McAvoy was a rookie too. Does that mean Zdeno Chara should have been named an all-star?

A player like McAvoy is very much the exception, not the rule. Djoos has a bright future ahead of him, but his career is not yet at the same level as a player like McAvoy.

With all due respect to the voters, it seems like not enough attention was paid to what the Capitals asked of Carlson this season. His strong play on both ends of the ice made up for a weak defense that was only bolstered by a late trade for Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks just prior to the trade deadline.

If you looked at Carlson's stats and saw just an offensive specialist who was not strong enough in his own end to warrant an all-star spot, then you were not paying close enough attention to the role he played in Washington this season.

MORE CAPITALS COVERAGE: