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The MLB Playoffs are right around the corner. There are going to be surprises, but I believe these 16 players are the key to their teams success this postseason. You'll find some stars and obvious choices, and you'll also find some of my personal sleepers of guys that I believe need to step up. Let me know what you think, and enjoy the show.
Gio Gonzalez is now the man for the Washington Nationals. With Stephen Strasburg shut down (idiot move), the Nationals are going to need a shut down ace through the postseason. Gonzalez is as nasty as anyone in baseball, and he'll need to be nasty if the Nationals want to move to the World Series.
Tim Lincecum has had the worst season of his career, and somehow- the Giants are primed to be in the postseason by winning the NL West. If the Giants want to do anything, Lincecum is going to have to channel his inner video game Lincecum because they won't survive if he's just flat out bad.
Mat Latos is going to be the ace for the Reds in the offseason. If they want to survive the NL, Latos is going to have to take the ball every 3 days because the Reds don't have the pitching other teams have. If Latos doesn't pitch well, it's going to be 1 and done or the offense will need to score 8 runs a game.
Phil Hughes is the key to the Yankees run this year. Their achilles heel has always been their rotation because they can't find a shut down guy behind CC Sabathia. I believe Hughes is going to need to step up and be the number 3 guy this year. If he doesn't, I'm not sure how far the Yankees will go by relying just on their offense. There are a few AL teams that can pitch, so the Yanks might have to win a few 2-1 games to win a title this year.
You would think guys like Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, or Robinson Cano will carry the offense this postseason. This comes down to how Granderson hits because of Tex's and Arod's injury problems this year. Cano is going to hit, but it's Granderson who will need to supply the thunder to the lightning this year.
Jason Heyward's time is now. The Braves need some thunder. Chipper Jones is just not reliable at this stage in his career to be able to play every day and Brian McCann has been bad. Dan Uggla is so hot and cold you have no idea what he'll be so the Braves need a lightning bolt in their offense. If Heyward doesn't drive the baseball, the Braves have no shot.
Matt Holliday no longer has Albert Pujols to rely on this postseason. It's going to be up to him to be the man for the Cardinals if they want to repeat as champs. I think they have enough arms, but I'm not sure their offense has enough to get there. If Holliday mashes, the Cardinals will have a much better shot at raising a second straight trophy.
Manny Machado is a young kid, but he doesn't know any better. I think his energy of playing in the playoffs will help this Orioles team because they aren't even supposed to be there. I think Manny Machado could be the key to this team offensively and defensively for this team, and I look forward to watching them this October.
Ian Kinsler is the guy the Rangers are going to need to lead this team. He's hitting at the top of the order so he's going to have set the table, but Kinsler has the ability to change the game with his legs, and can hit for power. If he does all these things, the Rangers will represent the American League once again- especially if another guy later on this list shows up and pitches.
Prince Fielder can mash and he's one part of the new bash brothers. We all know Miguel Cabrera will crush, but if his partner in crime doesn't hit, this team doesn't have enough lower in the order to get by in the AL.
It's not even clear the Tigers get into the postseason as they're still 2 games behind. Justin Verlander will have to go 3 days in between starts if they're going to get in, and when they do get in? He's going to have to be the guy- once again. Not a surprise because he's the best pitcher in baseball but still- the Tigers ace is going to have to step up.
The Chicago White Sox might not get into the postseason, but it's going to be their very good bullpen that gets them there, and then the world series. Addison Reed, Nate Jones, Matt Thorton, Jessie Crain, and Donnie Veal are going to determine their fate because I don't believe the starting rotation after Chris Sale has what it takes.
Again, the White Sox might not get in but their going to need the good Alex Rios to stand up. Rios has had a very solid campaign and he's going to need to step it up even more. He's going to have jump start an at times sluggish offense if the Sox are going to want to score runs. We all know Dunn and Konerko can hit, but it'll be up to Rios to produce if they aren't, or clean the table if Paulie and Dunn set it.
Yoenis Cespedes is the guy the A's have needed for a long time. He's got the power and the ability to hit for average. He's a very good defensive outfielder and I believe he's a big part of this team's surprising success. The Oakland A's will need him to be the star this offseason as they go head to head with a team like the Rangers or Yankees.
The Rangers have lacked the shut down ace over the last 2 years. This year, Yu Darvish IS that ace. I've said it all along, and I stick by it. This guy has the ability to go 9 shut out innings every 3-4 days, and that's something the Rangers lacked. They have the offense, and if they want to win a World Series FINALLY- the ace will have to pitch like an ace.
MLB Playoffs: 16 Players That Can Lead Their Team To a World Series
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Gio Gonzalez: Washington Nationals
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Tim Lincecum: San Francisco Giants
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Mat Latos: Cincinnati Reds
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Phil Hughes: New York Yankees
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Curtis Granderson: New York Yankees
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Jason Heyward: Atlanta Braves
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Matt Holliday: St. Louis Cardinals
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Manny Machado: Baltimore Orioles
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Ian Kinsler: Texas Rangers
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Prince Fielder: Detroit Tigers
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Justin Verlander: Detroit Tigers
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Chicago White Sox Bullpen
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Alex Rios: Chicago White Sox
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Yoenis Cespedes: Oakland A's
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