As we roll into the World Series, we take a moment to look back at some of the champs, and chumps of baseball’s postseason (Part I, the Champs). Some of these stories have already been told, and some are yet to be finished. A fall from grace, or a rise from the ashes could still be in order in some cases. In others, it’s what we’ll always remember them by, for better, or worse….
- 102.2 Innings pitched
- 2.11 ERA
- 3 World Series Titles (2012/2014/2016), 1 World Series MVP, 1 NLCS MVP
There are few more decorated pitchers than Madison Bumgarner when it comes to the postseason. The lanky left hander always seems to have shown up when it matters most, whether it be a complete game during the 2016 Wild Card, or a superhero like effort in the 2014 World Series (where he pitched a shutout in game 5, then came back and pitched 5 innings of scoreless relief in game 7) to shut the door on the surging Royals, MadBum has proven himself as a true Legend of the Fall.
- Career .947 OPS in postseason
- 3 World Series Titles (2004/2007/2013), 1 ALCS MVP, 1 World Series MVP
- All-Time best 3.2 WPA (Win Probability Added*)
- *WPA = The closest way to quantify “clutch” analytically
David Ortiz, or “Big Papi” as he’s known in Boston circles, is a player that seemed to embody the very definition of “clutch”. His team down three games to none to their arch rival New York Yankees, staring down Mariano Rivera, he walked off the Sox not once, but twice in the same day. He has been responsible for more walk off hits in the postseason than virtually any player in baseball history (citation needed), and really became the lynchpin of the cultural turnaround in Boston, from tragic losers, to perennial contenders. There are few teams that did more for their franchise than Ortiz did.
- 158 Postseason games played (All-time leader)
- 20 Postseason Home Runs (3rd All-Time)
- 5 World Series Titles (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009), 1 World Series MVP
I mean… Duh. It’s hard to argue against Derek Jeter being on ANY list related to postseason greatness. Even though he only has one MVP to show for it, that’s the unfortunate side affect of having teammates like Mariano Rivera, Scott Brosius, and Hidecki Matsui. He is synonymous with the modern postseason player; composed, smart, and effective, all while understanding the gravity of the situation. Not much else to say here.
- 1.021 Career Postseason OPS (On Base + Slugging)
- 8 Home Runs in single Postseason tied for most all-time
- 1 World Series title (2017)
An often underrated postseason performer, Carlos Beltran busted into his first postseason and set the record for most Home Runs in a single year. He only made four trips to the postseason, and really only two of those were extremely productive (2004 and 2012), many players on the 2017 Astros attribute Beltran as a key leader in the clubhouse during the World Series, guiding a young team that had virtually no experience on a stage that big before. He gets the nod as a “Champ” not just for what he was able to accomplish ON the field, but what he was able to do outside the lines as well.
- 0.71 ERA over 141 Innings (Both all time records)
- 11.7 WPA highest of all time (next closest: Curt Schilling at 4.1)
- 5 World Series Titles, 1 ALCS MVP, one World Series MVP
If you had one inning that your life depended on, Mo is the guy who would pitch that inning, and I don’t particularly care who you are. There is no such thing as “automatic” in the endless twists and turns of a baseball postseason, however the next closest thing would be when number 42 in black-and-white pinstripes took the mound. Armed with only one pitch (a cutter), Rivera shut down opponents more times than anyone in the postseason, earning himself the title of the greatest closer of all time.