One player cannot consistently guarantee success for a baseball team, but one player can lift a team to a championship with an inspired performance in the postseason.
If you don't believe me, you should Google "David Freese 2011 postseason."
So what players in the 2012 College World Series are capable of carrying their respective teams on their backs? Which players are fully capable of rising to new heights as the field narrows?
I've identified three such players. It should be noted that I focused on position players, since they impact each game, unlike pitchers, who only impact the games they appear in.
Mike Zunino, Florida
There's a reason why the Seattle Mariners made the catcher the third overall pick at this year's MLB draft.
Maybe it's because he was the 2011 SEC Player of the Year. It could because he's hitting .320 with 19 home runs and 65 RBI this year. Or perhaps it's because he's doing all of this while playing solid defensively behind the plate and managing the talented Florida rotation.
In my opinion, there is no player more important for the Gators than the powerful Zunino. Just a loss away from elimination now, the Gators will need an MVP-esque performance from the elite prospect if they hope to win a national title this year.
James Ramsey, Florida State
How do these numbers sound?
Ramsey is hitting .382 this year with 13 home runs and 57 RBI. Not too shabby, right? And if he and the Seminoles are going to survive an elimination game against UCLA on Tuesday night, he'll need to be at his best against a solid UCLA pitching staff.
Baseball is far from a one-man sport, but the Seminoles will need their unquestioned star and team captain to be clutch moving forward.
Jeff Gelalich, UCLA
Gelalich has been an inconsistent performer in the past, but I think it's safe to say he's put things together in a big way during his junior season.
Which player is most likely to carry his team on his back?
All he's done this year is hit .363 with 11 home runs and 48 RBI from the clean-up position in UCLA's lineup.
But against Arizona, he didn't so much as manage a hit in the Wildcats' 4-0 win over the Bruins. If UCLA hopes to survive against Florida State—and beat Arizona twice just to advance to the championship series—Gelalich will need to do better than that.
But hey, this is his breakout season. I wouldn't bet against him showing off some of that potential on the biggest stage.
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