Figured I’d start doing a preview of sorts of the playoffs, since the entrants are pretty much set, what remains is mainly a battle to avoid being a wild card team. I hope the Cardinals pull that off, as I don’t want a one game playoff against San Francisco. Many bad memories linger from our last encounter, and while meeting them in the playoffs gives us the chance to exorcise those demons, I don’t like meeting *anyone* in a one game winner take all game, as there’s too much luck involved and not enough certainty.
Anyhow, here’s three AL players to watch. I try to avoid big names and focus on up and coming stars or players who’re underrated. And yes, some may consider Mike Trout up and coming still as he probably hasn’t reached his max potential yet, which is scary, but he is definitely not underrated, so I’ll leave him off.
Yordano Ventura, Starting Pitcher, Kansas City Royals
Everyone is focusing on “Big Game James” when Ventura, one of the young guns that has excelled for KC this year, is going to be relied upon just as much, provided they make it out of the wild card. I could even make a case for the kid to start the wild card game over Shields, his stuff is that electric. Yost won’t do that though, he is pretty conventional. In fact, I bet if Yost had Trevor Rosenthal this year, he’d have closed all season for him as well.
Steve Pearce, Outfielder/First Baseman, Baltimore Orioles
Pearce was a journeyman bench player with good OBP skills who’d never gotten more than 165 AB’s in a season. Well this year, at 31 years old, thanks to various injuries and the suspension of Chris Davis, he got a big chance to be more than a bench player. He got a career high 327 AB’s and made the most of them too. He hit .297 with 20 home runs and a .376 OBP while slugging .557. Look for him to a be a key contributor in Baltimore’s playoff run.
Jeff Samardzija, Starting Pitcher, Oakland
John Lester was acquired to be the A’s ace down the stretch and into the playoffs. Before Lester, however, there was Samardzija. He’s performed solidly in Oakland, with an ERA of 2.92 and a 0.917 WHIP over 15 games. He also had two complete games for the A’s, as many as he had last year for the Cubs in 33 starts. If the A’s make it past the wild card, look for Jeff S. to play a key role in their playoff run.
These are three American League players to keep an eye on during the playoffs. In my next post I’ll pick three National League Players to watch.
Thanks for reading.