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7 MLB Players to Watch in the AL and NL Championship Series

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The month of October enhances the drama of baseball every year to immeasurable proportions. October forges players into baseball legends and imprints the moments of greatness in the timeline of American sports. David Freese, Kirk Gibson, Bill Mazeroski, Derek Jeter, Joe Carter, and Don Larsen are just a handful of the names who delivered in the most important month of the season, October.


This postseason is full of star talent. We all know guys like Trout, Kershaw, Strasburg, and Adam Jones, but a lot of times it’s the guys that you might least expect to make the biggest difference in going home early or winning World Series MVP.

Here is a list of seven players who will have a major impact on the Postseason, one way or the other, going forward.


7 Players to Watch in AL and NL Championship Series

Matt Holliday

In the second half of the season, Matt Holliday practically carried the Cardinals on his bat to an NL Central title, hitting 14 of his 20 long balls after the All Star break. Holliday’s success is absolutely vital if the Cards have any chance of making it back to the Fall Classic. This season, in games that the Cards won Holliday hit .320, with 14 home runs, an OBP of .416 and 73 RBI. In games in which St. Louis lost, Holliday was .210, 6 HR, and just 17 RBI in 70 games.

With no more names like Beltran, Berkman, Freese, Pujols, or Allen Craig in the lineup to offer protection or to give protection to, Holliday’s job is that much more important. It is safe to say that whether or not the Red Birds fly high in October relies on the shoulders of Matt Holliday.

Matt Carpenter


Matt Carpenter absolutely smashed the Dodgers October dreams in the NLDS, hitting three homers and knocking in seven runs. Along with Holliday, Carpenter will have to continue knocking the ball around the yard if the Cards want to advance to the Fall Classic for the second year in a row and third time in four years. Asking for three home runs and three doubles from Carpenter in the NLCS might be asking too much, he only hit eight long balls all season long, but it’s not unreasonable to see Carpenter be a big-time producer against the Giants, and it all starts with him getting on base.

Joe Panik

Second base was supposed to be Marco Scutaro’s this season. And then it was supposed to be Ehrie Adrianza’s, then Dan Uggla’s, and then Joaquin Araias’. None of those worked out. What did work out was calling up 2011 first round pick, Joe Panik, the 23 year old New Yorker.

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Panik declared the starting second base job his in the second half of the season, hitting .305/.343./.368 in 287 plate appearances, and making Bruce Bochy’s job a heck of a lot easier.

Panik is the first player in Giant’s history to have five hits in his first two postseason games, getting three in NL Wild Card game in Pittsburgh. and adding two more in game one of the NLDS against the Nationals, including a triple and an insurance run.


If Panik can just be consistent at the plate, get on base, and be the kickstarted of this Giant’s offense, Pence, Posey, and Panda should be able to do the rest.


Madison Bumgarner


Madison Bumgarner might be the best pitcher remaining in the Postseason. His uncanny, left-handed delivery and tight command of the strike zone could be trouble for the left-handed Cardinals hitters. Bumgarner hardly gives up walks (BB% 4.9), so the battle with the patient Cardinals bats should be an interesting one. In the regular season, Bumgarner surrendered 21 homers and only one of those long balls was to a fellow lefty. Bumgarner gets takes the hill in Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday night, and depending on how the series plays out, we could see Mad-Bum several times in the coming games.

Eric Hosmer

Eric Hosmer might finally be turning into the player he was projected to be, right in front of our very eyes. Hosmer’s career has been up and down since finishing third in the AL Rookie of the Year vote in 2011. His sophomore slump was rather noticeable but rebounded fantastically in 2013 and had a good enough 2014, but a stress fracture in his right hand limited his power to just 9 HRs.

When the bright lights of the Postseason flipped on in the AL Wild Card game against the As, Hosmer has been remarkable. At a time when its all about who is hot, Hosmer has been scorching. Against the As, Hosmer went 3 for 4 including a one-out triple in the bottom of the 12th, which led to him scoring a run and tying the game, sparking the Royals massive comeback. Hosmer also chipped in an RBI and two walks.

Hosmer continued his hot streak into the ALDS against the AL’s best team, the Los Angeles Angels. In game two, Hosmer came up big once again, getting three hits, scoring two runs, and adding two RBI. But nothing was bigger than his 11th inning monster two-run shot to off reliever Kevin Jepsen, a no-doubter.

If the Royals are going to continue this Cinderella run through October, they are going to need Hos to keep on swinging to keep up with the O’s big bats.

Yordano Ventura


This youngster might be the most exciting new pitcher to enter the baseball water-cooler talk this October. With a fastball that reached 102 MPH in the ALDS against the Angels, Yordano Ventura could be the pendulum that swings in the Royals favor against the Orioles, especially if he gets the chance to start more than once in the series. But it’s not just Ventura’s fastball that makes hitters whiff. His curveball might have more break on it than anyone else the Orioles have faced this season, to go along with a change up that hits 87 MPH. The big question is how well will the youngster handles the ever increasing spotlight that comes with the stage of the Postseason.  Ventura was rocked in his first Postseason appearance, coming out of the bullpen in the AL Wild Card Game against the As, but completely rebounded in the next round against the Angels. Ventura faces an Orioles lineup that crushed fastballs and hit more dingers that any other team in baseball.

Adam Jones


Adam Jones is the motor that keeps the Orioles team going. In the ALDS against the Tigers, jones went 2 for 11 in 13 plate appearances. The Orioles power at the plate is well-known, but going against power pitchers James Shields, Wade Davis, and Yordano Ventura could prove to be a problem in hitting long balls, base hits may be the difference in the series. If that is the case, Jones is going to have to put wood on the ball and drive in runs the old fashioned way, 2 hits in 3 games won’t cut it. Also, with the Royals ability to use their speed to score runs, Jones’ defense will be a major factor in preventing runs.

- By Jake Rose