It’s Posey vs. Heyward in tonight’s Giants playoff game

Photo by Ross Cameron - McClatchy News Catcher Buster Posey,

The series that begins here today isn’t just East vs. West and
fiery Bobby Cox vs. laid-back Bruce Bochy. It also happens to pit
the leading candidates for National League Rookie of the Year
against one another.
By Phil Barber – The Press Democrat

The series that begins here today isn’t just East vs. West and fiery Bobby Cox vs. laid-back Bruce Bochy. It also happens to pit the leading candidates for National League Rookie of the Year against one another.

In the orange corner: Giants catcher Buster Posey, who came up May 29 from Triple-A, when the team was 25-22 and in third place in the NL West. He has sparked the team ever since. Posey finished second among NL rookies with a .305 batting average in 2010, fourth in RBIs with 67, and second in slugging at .505. He was also given lavish credit for handling the Giants’ unpredictable pitching staff at the tender age of 23.

And in the blue corner: Braves outfielder Jason Heyward, who went deep in his first major league at-bat and relented only a bit as the year progressed. Heyward led all league rookies in runs (83) and on-base percentage (.393). He was second in RBIs (72) and hits (144).

Asked who deserves the award Wednesday, Cox said, “Well, that’s for you guys to vote on.”

He then performed a public service and tossed his two cents into the voting process: “Jason Heyward has played almost every game. He was out for a while with a real bad thumb. His on-base percentage is almost .400. He has a lot of timely hits and he’s a great right fielder that throws well and defends very well. He’s been there all year, but I can make a case for your guy just as well.”

The Giants have been making their case for Posey ever since he brought his talent and poise to the big leagues. Game 1 starter Tim Lincecum praised his catcher’s bat, and his ability to handle the five-man rotation – and more.

“You look at him in the outfield, and he’s working on his dropping-down-in-front-of-the-ball drills,” Lincecum said. “He’s working with Haysey (bullpen catcher Bill Hayes) on something, or reading up on a scouting report just to help us out.”

Posey hasn’t had a game off since Sept 10. Don’t expect him – or Heyward — to get any for the remainder of the season.

Extra points

– All eyes are on Cox as he navigates the Braves through one last postseason. The 69-year-old manager is retiring after 29 major league seasons, 4,437 victories and a record 158 ejections. Typically, Cox downplayed his feelings as the playoffs begin.

“Even when we played last Sunday and won (against the Phillies), and if that had been our last game, it wouldn’t have hit me,” he said. “Maybe until after we showered or something, but it wouldn’t have hit me in the dugout, because we’ve been through these playoffs the last three weeks. Every game is a must-win game.”

– For the record, the Giants are 16-9 all-time in playoff series openers.

– If Posey bats cleanup for the Giants, they will become just the sixth team ever to have a rookie regularly in the No. 4 slot in the postseason. The last team to do it was Tampa Bay, which batted Evan Longoria fourth in 2008.

Tonight’s game

– Braves at Giants

– 6:37 p.m.

– TV: TBS

– Radio: 680

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