There is a celebrated legend about Buster Posey among Giants fans on a popular Internet site. It all began with a College World Series highlight clip in which Posey threw out a Wichita State runner trying to steal second base.

The camera caught a tight shot of Posey's youthful visage, twisted in a scowl. He shook his head and appeared to repeat, "I ain't havin' it."

The Giants tried to ease Posey into the major leagues after promoting him May 29. They had him play first base for nearly a month while Bengie Molina handled the pitching staff. They batted him sixth or seventh in the lineup, where the klieg lights weren't so hot. But Posey's polished skills kept screaming for more.

Hold back Buster? He ain't havin' that, either.

General manager Brian Sabean traded Molina on July 1 and Giants manager Bruce Bochy gradually added to Posey's workload until he became that rarest of commodities --- a cleanup-hitting catcher. And he will lead the Giants into an NL Division Series against an Atlanta Braves club buoyed by another once-in-a-generation rookie talent, right fielder Jason Heyward.

The NL Rookie of the Year Award is expected to go to Posey or Heyward. But now there is much more at stake between these two mature, quiet, humble, intelligent and supremely gifted players.

"What this kid has done for us, the way he's handled the staff, playing every day and being a catcher, I know how hard that is," Bochy said of Posey. "It's the toughest thing in ball. Your legs are worn down, and yet he was able to find a way to get through it and handle the staff, and of course, hit a home run (in Sunday's clinching victory over San Diego).


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"You talk about a catcher hitting cleanup, you think of a Johnny Bench. That's who comes to mind. You just don't see many of these guys."

You see almost none who are rookies leading a team to the postseason. The last rookie catcher to reach a World Series was Yadier Molina with the 2004 St. Louis Cardinals. The last rookie catcher to win a World Series was Andy Etchebarren with the 1966 Baltimore Orioles, according to Chuck Rosciam of the Society for American Baseball Research.

And the last rookie catcher to win a World Series while hitting in the heart of the order? It was 1947, when Yogi Berra won the first of his 10 rings for the New York Yankees.

As Yogi once said, 90 percent of the game is half mental. And Posey's cool, reptilian mentality on the field belies his years. Even the catcher traded to make room for him recognizes that.

"To be honest with you, I love the kid," said Bengie Molina, who is going to the playoffs with the Texas Rangers. "He's a great person. He's very humble, very talented. Believe me, he's going to be one of the big names in the league for many years. I'll be very happy watching him from home, knowing that I helped him out."

Molina was a favorite among Giants pitchers, but Posey has gotten even more out of them. The Giants were 40-38 on the day Molina was traded to Texas. They are 52-32 since, led by a staff that has held opponents to three runs or fewer in 23 of their past 26 games.

Their streak of 18 consecutive games allowing three runs or fewer was the longest by a major league team since the 1917 Chicago White Sox. And the bullpen has a 0.90 ERA since Sept. 1 while ending the season with 24 consecutive scoreless innings.

"He's done an amazing job to get those guys pitching the way they are, and from my experience, that is not easy," Molina said. "The way he took charge was amazing. The kid is something special. Not just because of the way he's hitting, but because of the way he carries himself on and off the field.

"Was it tough being the guy who was traded to make room for him? No. I never had bad feelings toward whoever trades me. I'm very happy for them and for their team. They treated me with class. Everybody treated me well. I'm very happy for them. "

A few weeks ago, Posey watched that celebrated College World Series clip on a reporter's phone. He tilted back his head and laughed when told what the lip readers interpreted.

"Come on, does that really sound like something I'd say?" Posey said.

Then his eyes sparkled with recognition.

"You know what, I was probably saying I didn't have it, like I didn't have a good grip on the ball," he said. "I'll bet that's what it was."

OK, but what about the slightly annoyed, disapproving, "go to your room" expression on his face?

"That look was probably 'It's 115 degrees and I'm dying out here,' " he said.

So not every part of the Posey legend is true. But give him time. He isn't done building it yet.

For more on the Giants, see Andrew Baggarly's Extra Baggs blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/extrabaggs.