Giants' Madison Bumgarner-Buster Posey Duo Best MLB Battery in Decades

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Giants' Madison Bumgarner-Buster Posey Duo Best MLB Battery in Decades
Ben Margot/Associated Press

What has four legs, six rings and the undying affection of the City by the Bay?

That'd be the San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, hands down the best battery in baseball and, in fact, the best pitcher/catcher pairing the sport has seen in decades.

Oh, sure, this week we learned that Bumgarner will miss one or two Cactus League starts with injuries to his foot and ribcage that he termed "minor," per Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The big left-hander, Schulman added, insists he'll make his scheduled Opening Day start.

Based on his track record of grit under pressure, we're inclined to believe him. And we'll assume that when he does, Posey will be in the squat.

If so, it'll be another in a long list of watershed moments for San Francisco's dynamic duo.

Despite their relative youthBumgarner is 26 and Posey turns 29 on March 27—the Giants' ace and MVP backstop have shared a trio of championship runs. In 2014, Posey caught Bumgarner's transcendent Game 7 relief appearance against the Kansas City Royals, as well as all 52.2 frames of the southpaw's historic postseason.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press
Posey has caught many of Bumgarner's big moments, including his gutsy Game 7 relief appearance in the 2014 World Series.

When Posey catches Bumgarner, whether in a Fall Classic elimination game or the Cactus League, one of the first things you notice is how infrequently Bumgarner shakes him off.

They're simpatico, like all successful batteries must be. It's a rhythm they began developing in the minor leagues, after the Giants drafted Bumgarner out of North Carolina's South Caldwell High School in 2007 and Posey from Florida State the following year.

"They both kind of came up together at almost the same time," Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti said, per Schulman. "When they did, I noticed there was a rapport between the two of them right off the bat."

They dress at adjoining lockers in Scottsdale, Schulman noted, and joke and tease like brothers.

They even manage to push each other at the plate. On July 13, 2014, they became the first pitcher and catcher in MLB history to each hit a grand slam in the same game, an 8-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. And last year, both took home Silver Slugger Awards for the second straight season.

Mostly, though, their success comes with 60 feet, 6 inches of separation between them. Posey is good no matter who he's catching; he was the fourth-best pitch-framer in the game last season, per StatCorner, and seems destined to eventually win a Gold Glove. But his bond with Bumgarner specifically is undeniable.

So are the results. Bumgarner has eclipsed 200 innings in five consecutive seasons and made three All-Star teams in that stretch. And Posey, of course, has grabbed a batting title and an NL MVP Award during the same period, in addition to toiling capably under the tools of ignorance.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Posey and Bumgarner were drafted by the Giants one year apart and came up together.

We said up there that they're baseball's best battery, and that's a pretty uncontroversial statement. Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals have had plenty of superlative moments together, but both are attempting injury comebacks and appear to be on the downside of their careers.

Other than that, what's the competition? The Toronto Blue Jays' Russell Martin and Marcus Stroman? The Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez and Edinson Volquez? No offense to those perfectly respectable twosomes, but they're not even in the same stratosphere.

No, to find adequate comparables for Posey and Bumgarner, we have to reach further back into baseball history.

In the early 2000s, Jorge Posada was a perennial All-Star behind the dish for the New York Yankees. And he caught his share of excellent pitchers, including Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina and Roger Clemens. In the '90s, Javy Lopez framed pitches for Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine during the Atlanta Braves' run of dominance, but he was nowhere near the talent Posey is.

So how far back do we go? Johnny Bench and Tom Seaver? Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford?

Yes, we're dialing deep into the 20th century and dealing in legends and Hall of Famers. But that's the company Posey and Bumgarner are moving into, and they're each locked into long-term deals with the GiantsBumgarner through 2019 and Posey through 2022—meaning they'll have ample opportunity to pad their mutual resume.

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
The Giants battery, seen here with their 2015 Silver Slugger Awards, became the first to hit grand slams in the same game.

OK, here's the part where we're legally obligated to mention that it's an even year. Which, since 2010, has meant orange and black confetti and a parade down Market Street. And, right on cue, the Giants spent $220 million to bolster their rotation with free agents Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija.

Bumgarner, however, remains the unquestioned ace. That's why news of him missing a spring start or two is a big deal, even if the reason for it isn't necessarily.

Along with Posey and skipper Bruce Bochy, he's the thread that ties the Giants' title trilogy together. If they're going to get another one, the stud left-hander and his cherub-faced catcher will surely be in the middle of the magic yet again.

It almost feels like destiny, though as Schulman opined, "To say they were destined for greatness together is prosaic but inaccurate. Destiny in sports is earned."

True enough. And as their ring-covered fingers attest, Bumgarner and Posey have earned it several times over.

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