In the season's darkest hour, the Giants turned to their leader.
"Ultimately it's just a bad decision, and that's all I'm really going to say about that," a defiant Buster Posey said hours after Melky Cabrera's suspension. "We have to approach the rest of the year with a chip on our shoulders."
Posey made sure those were more than just words. From August 24, when the Giants held a slim three-game lead over the Dodgers, to September 22, the day they clinched, Posey played every day. He made 27 straight starts at catcher or first base and the Giants won 19 of them, running away with the division title just a few weeks after the Dodgers had overhauled their roster.
Posey hit .356 during that stretch with a .419 on-base percentage and .558 slugging percentage. There are a lot of ways to define an MVP, including the ability to lift your team you're needed most. Posey did just that, and he checked off all the other boxes, too.
On Thursday, Posey was named MVP of the National League.
He received 27 first place votes out of 32 total and had 422 points, finishing far ahead of Ryan Braun (285).
While bouncing back from a career-threatening ankle injury, Posey excelled at the plate and behind it. He hit 24 homers, drove in 103 runs and batted .336 to become the first catcher since 1942 to win the NL batting title. He led the Giants to a second World Series title in Posey's three seasons in the big leagues.
Posey, still just 25, joined Johnny Bench and Thurman Munson as the only catchers in MLB history to win a Rookie of the Year Award, MVP and a World Series title.
"He has the reins to the pitching staff and he also has the keys to the lineup, and he's driving it well," closer Sergio Romo said at the end of the season. "To be the MVP would mean everyone else would realize what Buster means to us."
The baseball world received that message loud and clear.