It’s almost time for the MLB playoffs, and these 25 players are the most interesting to watch as the season heads to October.
Temperatures are dropping (sort of), leaves are falling (almost) and football is back (meh). You know what that means? Playoff baseball is right around the corner. Baseball fans have been treated to epic playoff series in each of the past three years, with young superstars relishing and thriving in the pressure cooker that is October baseball.
In 2014, Madison Bumgarner made himself a postseason legend. A year later, the Royals were back to claim the title that had so narrowly eluded them a year before. That 2015 postsesaon also featured the emergence of the young Chicago Cubs studs as well as Carlos Correa becoming the youngest number-three hitter in a playoff game since Mickey Mantle. Experience has not been a prerequisite for postseason heroics lately.
The 2016 postseason may have topped them all, with the Cubs clawing back from a 3-1 hole to win their first title in 108 years. The Cleveland Indians very nearly ended a lengthy drought of their own with Francisco Lindor announcing himself to the world as a force to be reckoned with at the age of 22. If that wasn’t enough, Terry Francona rewrote the rules of bullpen management.
Most of the teams in the MLB playoff dance for 2017 are set in stone, with only one spot still legitimately up for grabs. Now is the time to begin thinking about which players will offer the most intrigue in October. These 25 players can make all the difference for their respective teams while also taking the next step toward cementing their status among the all-time greats.
25. Kyle Schwarber
This was supposed to be the year of Kyle Schwarber in Chicago. The big left fielder, who was a hero in the World Series last year, was slated to hit first for the Cubs and redefine what a lead-off man could like like and do. On paper, it made a lot of sense. Schwarber’s raw power and patient approach at the plate should have played well. In reality, it has been a struggle for Schwarber all season. His role for the postseason is up in the air.
Schwarber’s production has been on an upswing in September where he is hitting close to .300 with more power. That bodes well for the Cubs going into the playoffs, where Schwarber has been the single greatest hitter in franchise history.