When most people reach age 26, they are still trying to map out the next phase of their lives. Some are still in school, while others are still trying to find their dream job. The same sense of the unknown applies to their personal lives as well. Some may find themselves in a committed relationship, while others are still searching for their significant other. Any way you slice it, their paths are not seen as being "set in stone" quite yet.
Then there's Buster Posey.
When Posey turns 26 in March, he will have already won two World Series rings. He will have already been a Rookie of the Year recipient and an All-Star Game selection. He will be considered the best at his craft and one of the best overall players in baseball.
Even now, at age 25, it seems as though he is destined to reach Cooperstown.
Considering Posey entered this season coming off a devastating leg and ankle injury, his numbers are all the more remarkable. His .336 batting average led the National League. On a team known more for its pitching staff than its offensive prowess, he clubbed 24 home runs and drove in 103 runs. According to ESPN.com, his wins above replacement number was the highest in the National League.
Just as important were Posey's defensive abilities. After all, he spent 148 games behind the plate for a team that recorded 14 shutouts, one of those being a perfect game. No other catcher compares to Posey and his stats.
More importantly, Posey has backstopped his way to two World Series titles in his first three seasons. While his offensive numbers in the playoffs have been less than stellar, these can be overlooked because the emphasis of playoff baseball is pitching more often that not.
Just look at this year's World Series. The Giants shut out the Tigers twice and, overall, only allowed six runs in four games. As important as it is to have great pitchers, it is just as important to have a catcher who can guide them through games and keep everything in front of the plate.
Posey also showed some real courage by staying in position to tag Prince Fielder at home plate in Game 2. In other words, he does what he has to in order for the Giants to win games.
The scary part is that Posey has yet to reach his ceiling.
When the Giants begin play next season, Posey will be just entering his prime. While one can't expect him to consistently win the batting title, one can expect him to hit at least .300 and drive in 100 runs each season. His power numbers are good now, but they can actually become deadlier in the coming years. He will be the best offensive catcher in baseball and the centerpiece of San Francisco's lineup.
Of course, many people measure a player's greatness by the number of rings he wins during his career. Well, Posey can legitimately win five or six rings by the time he hangs up his cleats.
The pitching staff of the Giants alone makes the team an instant competitor. Matt Cain is an absolute ace, and if Tim Lincecum can figure things out, these pitchers can become the best one-two combo in baseball. Bruce Bochy is also one of the best managers in the game.
As the Giants showed this postseason, they are a group of players who on any given night can step up and get the big hit or record the momentum-shifting strikeout. With Posey thrown in as well, the Giants are immediately one of the World Series favorites for next season and beyond.
Baseball fans are witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime talent grow before their very eyes. After only three years, Buster Posey has proven that he is more than just a decent player with a cool name. He has shown that he has the skills of a future Hall of Fame inductee. If he continues on his torrid pace, he will have a spot reserved in Cooperstown. He will also go down as one of the defining players of this current generation of baseball stars.