The 15 Biggest Surprises of the MLB Playoffs
The 2012 MLB Playoffs have been nothing short of spectacular (sans ALCS), so it’s time to reflect on it a little bit. We have seen several amazing moments this postseason, including a handful of incredible endings, home runs, and pitching performances that will be remembered forever. But who are the biggest surprises we have seen thus far?
I constitute a surprise as something we could not expect – good or bad. We have good surprises (that we love) and bad surprises (which we call accidents). I’m not one of those guys who only see the glass half-full; ergo, some of the surprises on my list are on here for all the wrong reasons.
The best thing about being a surprising postseason hero is that you live on forever. If you want to know what I mean, all you would have to do is ask Cody Ross if he has to buy a meal in San Francisco anytime soon, because I highly doubt it.
Here are the 15 biggest surprises we have seen in the playoffs thus far. My apologies to Ryan Ludwick, Tim Lincecum, and Curtis Granderson for not making the cut.
Prior to this year’s playoffs, Justin Verlander always struggled during postseason play. With a 3-3 record that was coupled with an ERA over five, a lot of people thought Verlander came up small when it mattered most. This postseason, however, Verlander has been otherworldly, winning all three of his starts, which includes a .74 ERA and .62 WHIP.
Maybe this shouldn’t be a surprise, but Matt Holliday came up short again in the postseason. Last season, Holliday was basically the only Cardinal player who did not get a clutch hit in the World Series, hitting .158 for the Redbirds. This season, nothing really changed with Matt Holliday, who hit .222 in October.
MadBum has been a mad bum. Bumgarner, who was easily one of the better pitchers in the National League this season, has really struggled for the San Francisco Giants this October. In his two starts, Bumgarner has allowed fifteen hits and ten runs in only eight innings. If the Giants have any chance against the Detroit Tigers in the World Series, they will need the Bumgarner from the first half to show up in Game 2.
Ryan Vogelsong is one of the better stories of the postseason. The 34-year old veteran has been the Giants’ horse in the playoffs, winning two of his three starts. His 1.42 ERA this postseason is quite different than his 4.34 career ERA.
Jhonny Peralta had a pretty shaky regular season for the American League Champions, but he smells like roses right now. Peralta will enter Game 1 of the World Series with a .923 postseason OPS.
Although Mets fans can only remember one of Carlos Beltran’s at-bats in the playoffs, he is one of the greatest postseason performers of all-time. His 1.252 postseason OPS is something that can only happen in video games.
If the New York Yankees did anything at all in the ALCS, Raul Ibanez would probably be number one on this list. He was the only Yankee who showed up throughout the playoffs.
Allen Craig is one of my favorite players in the game; however, that didn’t help him all that much in the postseason. Craig hit .400 with runners in scoring position during the regular season, leading all of baseball. In the playoffs, unfortunately, Craig couldn’t rekindle the magic from the regular season. Craig only hit .234 throughout the playoffs.
It’s going to be sad when your favorite team overspends for Delmon Young because he had the go-ahead RBI in every game of the ALCS. You laugh now, but it will happen, and you will weep.
How bad has probable MVP winner been at the plate this postseason? Well, I have to find him on page 2 of 2 on MLB.com for his postseason statistics. Although he only has eight hits, that grand slam against the Cincinnati Reds is one of the biggest hits we have seen thus far.
Phil Coke was the first responder to the Jose Valverde car wreck, reviving the Tigers' bullpen Coke has held opponents scoreless in his seven innings of work, prompting him to Gronk-spike his mitt in joy.
Trevor Rosenthal took the baseball world by storm this October. In his 8 2/3 innings of work, Rosenthal only allowed two hits while striking out 15. Needless to say, the Cardinals have a new primary set-up man for next season.
Marco Scutaro is one of those players you can’t help but like. He has been around baseball for quite some time, yet he was never really a superstar. In the NLCS, however, Scutaro was the superstar, going 14-for-28 with six runs scored, earning the MVP trophy.
Prior to the playoffs, there was no hotter hitter than Robinson Cano, so it shocked the world to see how much the Yankees’ second baseman was struggling. Cano went 3-for-40 at the dish, which comes out to a .075 batting average. Good thing he wasn’t alone *cough* A-Rod *cough*.
Barry Zito hasn’t been the best pitcher in the 2012 MLB Playoffs, but he is easily the most surprising. Barry Zito is starting Game 1 of the World Series! Barry Zito! The $18.5 million dollar man who was left off the 2010 playoff roster is kicking off the World Series! I can’t believe I’m saying this in 2012, but if it wasn’t for Barry Zito, the Giants wouldn’t be here. Ergo, Barry Zito is the biggest surprise to me in the 2012 MLB Playoffs.