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The summer of Buster

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - After the New York Yankees fired George Costanza on the sitcom "Seinfeld" (or sold him for a large amount of Tyler Chicken ... however you want to look at it), it was supposed to be "The Summer of George."

The Summer of George never really came to fruition but at least major league baseball was kind enough to give us "The Summer of Buster Posey."

In case you haven't been following Posey's progress, the San Francisco Giants catcher is now hitting .332 for the year. That's the National League's fourth- highest batting average this season and the fifth-best in all of major league baseball.

Since the start of the season, only two big league catchers have homered more frequently than Posey (Chicago's A.J. Pierzynski and Boston's Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and no catcher has been able to match Posey's run production. The 25-year-old is currently fifth in the NL with 76 RBI.

Posey entered the year with some skeptics. Though his contributions in 2010 were essential to the Giants' World Series victory (it was the club's first title since leaving New York in the late 1950s), some were worried that Posey wouldn't be at full strength.

Posey was limited to 45 games in 2011 after breaking his leg on a collision at home plate. Because of this concern, Posey began the 2012 campaign as the fourth-best catcher in Yahoo's player fantasy rankings.

You won't find many Posey doubters nowadays.

As Mugatu from the timeless classic "Zoolander" would say, "Buster Posey is sooo hot right now." Since August 1, Gerald Posey III (as it reads on his birth certificate) is batting an other-worldly .459 with six homers and 15 RBI. That insane .459 mark is tops in the major leagues this month (minimum 30 at-bats). His slugging percentage (.946), on base percentage (.571) and OPS (1.517) have also been the league's best since the beginning of August.

Statistically speaking you could make a very convincing argument that Posey has been the best hitter in baseball since the start of the second half. In fact, I think arguing that someone has actually been better than Posey since the All-Star break would be a lot tougher.

In 98 at-bats since the Mid-Summer Classic (which Posey participated in for the first time this year), San Francisco's cleanup hitter has amassed an amazing .449 average with nine homers and 33 RBI.

Maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself to suggest this, but if Posey somehow manages to keep hitting over .400 for the entire second half, he'll become just the third player to accomplish that feat since 2000. The others were Ichiro Suzuki (.429 with the Seattle Mariners in 2004) and Barry Bonds (.404 with the Giants in 2002).

Posey's current numbers put him on pace to finish the second half with 17 HR and 64 RBI. No catcher has had a second half like that since Atlanta's Brian McCann went off for 18 HR and 64 RBI back in 2006.

This is groundbreaking stuff, folks.

Pitchers have been so terrified to face Posey recently that they've started to give him the Barry Bonds treatment. In five plate appearances Sunday against the Colorado Rockies, Posey walked three times. He singled and drove in a run on a sacrifice fly in his other two trips to the dish.

The three walks Sunday give Posey 11 for the month. Only Alberto Callaspo of the Los Angeles Angels has been given more free-passes since the beginning of August.

Posey's presence Sunday was also significant for another reason. It was just the fifth time this season that Posey has caught a game started by Barry Zito. Posey usually gets the day off when Zito pitches but lately his bat has been such an asset that manager Bruce Bochy has elected to keep him in the lineup anyway.

Posey's August might be the month that stands out most from a fantasy perspective but really, the third-year catcher has been great for the Giants all year. Look at his monthly totals:

April: .353, 4 HR, 9 RBI,.413 OBP, .603 SLUG, 1.016 OPS

May: .253, 2 HR, 18 RBI, .311 OBP, .368 SLUG, .679 OPS

June: .299, 4 HR, 13 RBI, .379 OBP, .483 SLUG, .862 OPS

July: .381, 3 HR, 21 RBI, .448 OBP, .595 SLUG, 1.043 OPS

August: .449, 6 HR, 15 RBI, .571 OBP, .946 SLUG, 1.517 OPS

May was a bit of a struggle for Posey but hitting .253 is kid's stuff compared to the awful months Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols owners have had to endure this season (.217 for Pujols in April, .177 for Hamilton in July).

Posey, a right-handed hitter, has been especially fierce against lefthanders this season. In 108 at-bats opposing southpaws this year, Posey has collected a .417 average with 10 HR and 34 RBI. Only Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen has been more thorough in his domination of lefties in 2012 (league-leading .442 average in 102 at bats).

Right now, Posey is putting on an offensive display that evokes memories of the legendary power stroke Bonds used to captivate Bay Area baseball fans for more than a decade. And unlike Bonds, there won't be any asterisks beside Posey's name when he inevitably inks his name into the Giants' record books.

While there's no shame in settling for Yadier Molina or Joe Mauer, I know which catcher I'll be picking first in my fantasy draft next season.

For now, let "The Summer of Buster" continue.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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