MLB Playoffs: The 15 Greatest Postseason Performances in Baseball History
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Forget Christmas and all that hoopla, the month of October is easily the best month of the calendar year. Just think about it: football is in full swing, the NBA season is right around the corner, the puck is about to dr… nevermind, but most importantly the MLB Playoffs are upon us!
Starting Friday, my eyes will be glued on my TV set, watching as much postseason baseball as I can. There are so many great storylines heading into this postseason. Whether it’s seeing if Miguel Cabrera can keep up his momentum, or if Josh Hamilton can forget his, there are plenty of things to look out for.
Speaking of Cabrera, if he can keep up his momentum, he has the potential to put together one of the greatest postseason performances of all-time. But what does Cabrera have to compete with?
Here is a list of my greatest playoff performances of all-time. I used Don Larsen’s perfect game as a cutting off point; ergo, there will be no guys on this list prior to 1956. Sorry, Lou Gehrig.
Alas, here are my 15 most memorable postseason performances in the history of the game. Feel free to include the ones I forgot - like Mickey Lolich from 1968 (thanks, Dad) - because I’m sure there are a plenty.
Nelson Cruz (2011)
Granted, Nelson Cruz is one of the main reasons the Texas Rangers lost Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, but he did make history last year. Cruz hit eight home runs in postseason play, including a six-pack against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS.
Darin Erstad (2002)
Darin Erstad’s performance is aided by the expanded playoff format, but he is tied for the hits record in a single postseason with 25. Plus, he is Daniel Bryan’s doppelganger. That has to count for something, right? YES! YES! YES!
Carlos Beltran (2004)
Carlos Beltran never was considered an elite player before the 2004 postseason. But after dropping four bombs in both the NLDS and NLCS, he became a superstar overnight. Beltran had a 1.500 OPS in both series, but his Astros failed to make the World Series, losing in seven games to the Cardinals. Just imagine what he could have done with a World Series…
Hideki Matsui (2009)
After only giving the Yankees a .670 OPS in the ALCS, Hideki Matsui had some making up to do, and boy did he ever make it up to the Bronx Bombers. In the World Series,Hideki Matsui turned into something scarier than Godzilla. His 2.027 OPS against the Phillies led the Yankees their 27th World Championship, earning the MVP in the process.
Cole Hamels (2008)
Cole Hamels went from potential ace to a wicked awesome ace after the 2008 postseason. Hamels went on to not only win the NLCS MVP, but the World Series MVP as well. And he has a smoking hot wife, which doesn’t hurt anything.
Marquis Grissom (1995)
Remember Darin Erstad? Well, Marquis Grissom is the guy he is tied with for hits in a postseason, so it makes sense to throw Grissom on here as well. Grissom hit for a little more power than Erstad; therefore, he is ranked higher on my list. And being a part of the only World Series winner the Braves had during that absolutely ridiculous stretch has to count for something, doesn’t it?
Bob Gibson (1967)
In the year before he ruled the world, Bob Gibson put the team on his back with a broken leg. Gibson only started 24 games in 1967 due to his injury, but he healed in the nick of time, dominating the Red Sox in the World Series. He won all three games he started, only allowing three runs in 27 innings.
Johnny Bench (1976)
In my opinion, Johnny Bench is the greatest catcher of all-time. He did it all behind the plate and truly revolutionized the position. In 1976, he was the conductor of the Big Red Machine, OPSing over 1.000 in both of the Reds’ series, including a .533 batting average in the World Series.
Jack Morris (1991)
Let’s put Jack Morris’ postseason run in 1991 in perspective: people want him in the Hall of Fame on one game alone.
Curt Schilling (2001)
Talk about putting the team on your back. In 2001, Curt Schilling, alongside Randy Johnson, took the Arizona Diamondbacks all the way to a world championship. Schilling went 4-0 and didn’t have a WHIP under .70 in any series. That’s domination, folks.
Barry Bonds (2002)
Prior to 2002, Barry Bonds had the reputation as being a “playoff choker” However, he put those opinions to bed after demolishing every team that was put in front of him. Bonds nearly had a 2.000 OPS against the Angels in the World Series, but too bad Troy Glaus and Scott Spiezio had to ruin that storybook ending.
Sandy Koufax (1965)
Sandy Koufax may have lost one game in the 1965 World Series, but it doesn’t mean his performance wasn’t one of the most dominating of all-time. In 24 innings, he allowed 13 hits while striking out 29.
Orel Hershiser (1988)
1988 was the year of Orel – err, that sounds bad. But Orel Hershiser dominated the National League, setting the record for most consecutive scoreless innings during the regular season. Hershiser didn’t slow down whatsoever in the postseason, carrying the Dodgers all the way to a championship. His ERA barely hovered above 1.00 throughout the entire playoffs.
Billy Hatcher (1990)
Who in the heck is Billy Hatcher? Well, Billy Hatcher helped the Reds sweep the Oakland A’s in the 1990 World Series with a .750 batting average. That’s right – SEVEN! FIVE! ZERO! Hatcher went 9-12 for Cincinnati, scoring six runs. Amazingly, he didn’t win the World Series MVP; starting pitcher Jose Rijo did instead.
Reggie Jackson (1977)
Reggie Jackson was pretty terrible in the ALCS, but his World Series performance is the reason why he is Mr. October. Jackson hit five home runs against the Dodgers in six games, including his legendary three-homer game that has lived on for decades.