Elite catchers anchor both Giants and Cardinals in NLCS

Getty Images File PhotosCardinal catcher Yadier Molina (left) and Buster Posey are both proving to be elite catchers in the National League Championship Series.

Getty Images File PhotosCardinal catcher Yadier Molina (left) and Buster Posey are both proving to be elite catchers in the National League Championship Series.

The Giants saw first-hand over the past two seasons what having an All-Star catcher like Buster Posey can mean to a club.

In 2010, they won the World Series during his rookie year, failed to make the playoffs when he missed most of 2011, then rode his MVP-caliber season to a National League West title this year.

It’s a feeling the St. Louis Cardinals are very familiar with. Yadier Molina has been to the past four All-Star Games, won three Gold Gloves and caught one of the better starting rotations during his eight years as a starter.

Both hit in the middle of the lineup while managing a dozen different personalities among their pitching staffs and keeping track of how to get opposing hitters out.

It’s something that’s not lost on Giants manager Bruce Bochy, a former catcher himself who knows firsthand how tough their job is.

“It’s really amazing to see two catchers put up the numbers that these two guys did,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes on behind the plate. … But yet you have two guys that have put together remarkable seasons and two guys that are being talked about as Most Valuable Player this year. That’s added to this series.”

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who caught for the Giants for a year and a half before being forced to retire following a concussion, said the choice between the two was clear to him.

“I will stand behind the fact that Yadier Molina has impressed me more than any catcher I’ve ever witnessed,” Matheny said. “Yadi had a lot of people investing into him with his family and people from the outside, but he had to do it himself. He had to take what he was given and make the most of it, and he continues to get better.”

Posey has already played a huge role in getting the Giants to this point, as his grand slam in Game 5 of the National League Division Series helped San Francisco advance past the Cincinnati Reds. While Molina led the Cardinals in batting average (.315) for the second straight season, and owns a .325 career batting average in 22 NLCS games.

Add all that together with the importance of pitching in the postseason, and it’s safe to say this series hangs on the men behind the dish.

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