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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Buster Posey of the World Series champion San Francisco Giants won the National League's Most Valuable Player award on Thursday for the 2012 Major League Baseball season.
The hard-hitting Posey posted the highest batting average in the major leagues at .336 and pounded 24 home runs while driving in 103 to win MLB's most cherished individual award, which is based only on performance during the regular season.
Besides his batting prowess, the 25-year-old catcher was widely credited with helping to guide the Giants' outstanding pitching staff as San Francisco went on to win their second Fall Classic crown in three years by sweeping the Detroit Tigers.
Posey garnered 27 of the 32 first-place votes in ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America in becoming the first catcher in 40 years to win the award since Johnny Bench of the Cincinnati Reds won in 1972.
It was a brilliant comeback season for Posey, who missed most of the 2010 campaign after suffering a broken leg and torn ligaments in his ankle in a crushing collision as he tried to make a tag at home plate.
"It probably took a couple of months," Posey told MLB TV about when he felt confident about his comeback.
"For me the toughest thing was running the bases, it aggravated my ankle a little bit and bothered me behind the plate. But I give tons and tons of credit to our training staff.
"This is an award that will be shared by everyone in our organization."
In his 2010 rookie season, Posey played a key role in helping the Giants win their first World Series in more than half a century and was named Rookie of the Year.
Following his injury-shortened 2011 season, Posey returned this year as though nothing had happened. He was behind home plate in June when Matt Cain became the first Giant to pitch a perfect game and he was even more lethal with the bat.
Posey became the first catcher to win the NL batting title since Ernie Lombardi in 1942 and was a runaway winner of this season's NL Comeback Player of the Year award.
Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun (.319, 41 HR, 122 RBI, 105 R), the 2011 MVP, was runner-up in the voting after receiving three first-place votes and 285 points.
The other two-first place votes went to St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (.315, 22 HR, 76 RBI), who finished fourth behind Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (.327, 31 HR, 96 RBI).
Editing by Julian Linden