Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 11/8/14
Mlb-dodgers-giants
Pop quiz time. Who was the last National League catcher to win the MVP award? Mike Piazza? Gary Carter? Nope....you have to go all the way back to 1972 when Johnny Bench won his second award in three seasons. And how about the last National League catcher to win the batting title? Get Piazza's name out of your head, everyone, you have to go all the way back before World War II to find that player: former Brooklyn Dodgers catcher Ernie Lombardi (Joe Torre had the highest batting average in 1971, but the former catcher was a third baseman at that time in his career).
How is any of this relevant to the 2012 season in the National League? Well, two of the top contenders for the NL MVP award are catchers: Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants, and Yadier Molina of the St Louis Cardinals. Posey also leads the NL in batting average (Melky Cabrera kerfluffle aside) by one point over Andrew McCutchen.
Catching in the National League has been in a lull for years. Since Piazza fell from his prime after the 2002 season, there really hasn't been a bona fide top of the line catcher in the National League. Five different catchers won the Silver Slugger from 2003 to 2007, before the award reverted to Brian McCann for the last four seasons. But even if you consider McCann the standard bearer for NL catchers, he's received MVP votes in just one year (2010) despite six 20 homer seasons and six straight All-Star nods during his seven full years in the majors.
Enter Molina and Posey. Prior to the 2011 season, Molina was known more as a defensive-minded catcher who didn't bring much offense to the table. Then last season when the Cardinals won the World Series, Molina hit .305 and set a career high with 14 homers, nearly double his previous career high of eight set way back in 2005. This year, after signing a mammoth extension in the offseason, Molina's offensive game has taken a gigantic leap forward while his defense has remained elite. Molina has hit 21 homers (a 50% increase on last year's caraeer high), has an .885 OPS (more than 150 points higher than his career average), and has even stolen 12 bases. Those are awesome numbers for any player, but from behind the plate, it's elite.
Then, there's Posey, the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year. After missing most of the 2011 season after being injured during a collision at the plate, his long-term future as a catcher is in doubt, and 20% of Posey's games this year were spent at first base. But the 25-year old is still the Giants' primary catcher, and he's been even better this year than he was in 2010. Posey's .333 batting average is the best non-Melky average in the National League, and his .944 OPS is third among all qualified hitters in the NL. Also, to put Posey's 23 homers in perspective, McCann's career high is 24. Buster Posey isn't a great hitter "for a catcher", he's a great hitter, period.
Both players are probably going to finish in the top five in the NL MVP voting, along with Ryan Braun, Andrew McCutchen, and (potentially) David Wright and Chase Headley. Considering that the Giants and Cardinals are both playoff teams (well, the Giants are and the Cardinals will probably clinch this weekend) and none of the other MVP candidates are on teams that will be playing in the postseason, the narrative is strong with the two backstops. Posey and Molina are taking the catching position in the National League somewhere it hasn't been in a long time: to the top of MVP ballots across the country. And honestly, that's not a bad thing at all...unless your team is content to use a defensive-minded backstop with a bat more suited for the middle infield.
[follow]
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

John Madden: Last play of Super Bowl will 'torment' Pete Carroll

Cristiano Ronaldo nets hat trick, sets career high for goals

WATCH: Cormier tells Jones to get his s-- together

Fans holding 'Free Tom Brady Rally' at Gillette Stadium

Josh Hamilton to be activated by Rangers

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

WATCH: Top CB recruit makes insane catch doing backflip

Biggest surprises of the MLB season

Marcus Mariota leads NFL in jersey sales for May

Report: Scott Skiles frontrunner for Magic coaching job

Shanahan: injuries are not why Robert Griffin III struggles

Kyle Korver ruled out for remainder of playoffs

WATCH: Daniel Cormier gets into it with Ryan Bader

Jim Harbaugh compares his driving to Jeff Gordon's

WATCH: High school seals win with perfect hidden ball trick

Warriors crush Rockets in Houston to take 3-0 series lead

WATCH: D'Angelo Russell whiffs on horrible golf swing

Brian Matusz ejected for having foreign substance on arm

PHOTO: Don Cherry wears wild suit even for his taste

PHOTOS: Gigantic sinkhole at Jack Nicklaus golf course

WATCH: Memphis player catches defense sleeping, scores

WATCH: Astros turn around-the-horn triple play

French Open Women's preview: Who will make the quarters?

WATCH: Bryan Price gets ejected before game starts

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

John Madden: Last SB play will 'torment' Carroll

Eight biggest surprises of the MLB season

Bryan Price ejected before first pitch

Vin Scully narrates marriage proposal

Pats fan's obituary defends Brady

Marlins players skip own charity event

John Wall tells All-NBA Team voters to ‘keep sleeping’

Jim Kelly: No doubt Tom Brady cheated

Post-combine NBA Draft big board: Top 30

Ex-players sue NFL for conspiring to push painkillers

Astros surprising, but can get better with Correa

Here come the Giants

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.