Almost everyone that has ever stepped on a baseball diamond can remember a time when they pretended that they were coming to the plate for their favorite team with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning.
This scenario not only exists in the minds of thousands of young baseball fans, but it also occurs in Major League Baseball games. If a big league team were to run into this situation, they would all have one player that they would want at the plate.
The player that a team would want to call upon may not be their best hitter. While a home run would be nice, a single is all that is needed to win the game in this scenario, so a power hitter that strikes out a lot is not the best option.
Although he is in the middle of a down year, Justin Upton is the type of player that the Arizona Diamondbacks would want at the plate in a big situation. Upton has delivered in the past, and he can certainly do it again.
The two-time All-Star has a .287 batting average in late and close situations. Those situations are defined by Baseball-Reference as an at-bat during the "7th or later with the batting team tied, ahead by one, or the tying run at least on deck" (h/t Baseball-Reference).
In a big situation, teams will often turn to a veteran who has been there before. The Atlanta Braves have a future Hall of Famer that they would like to have at the plate in the ninth inning.
Chipper Jones has been a huge part of the Braves organization, and even at 40 years old, they would have no qualms about having him come up in a huge spot.
Over the past few seasons, Adam Jones has emerged as one of the best outfielders in the American League. He is one of the big reasons for the Baltimore Orioles' success this year.
Jones has been a big run producer in the Orioles lineup this year. If they get in a situation where they need a big hit to reach the postseason, the O's will be hoping that it is Jones that comes to the plate.
David Ortiz has been a big part of the Boston Red Sox franchise, and he has come up for them in a number of important moments. In two career World Series appearances, Ortiz has hit .321 with eight RBI in eight games (h/t Baseball-Reference).
While the Red Sox do have some other talented players on their roster, including Dustin Pedroia, Ortiz is the trusted bat that they would most want to see at the plate in the ninth inning.
Since reaching the major leagues at age 20 in 2010, Starlin Castro has been a huge asset to the Chicago Cubs. He has continued to develop into a run producer.
According to Baseball-Reference, Castro is a .271 hitter in late and close situations. He should continue to improve on that number as he matures.
Paul Konerko has been a beacon of consistency for the Chicago White Sox. He has been the best hitter in their lineup since the early 2000s.
If the White Sox need a hit in a big spot, there is no doubt that Konerko would be the player that fans hope is at the plate.
It's not bad to have a former National League MVP to lean on in a big situation. The Cincinnati Reds have Joey Votto in their lineup, and his performance over the past few years can be described as outstanding.
When he is healthy, Votto is one of the best players in all of baseball, and there is no doubt that he is the player the Reds would hope is at the plate in the bottom of the ninth.
Asdrubal Cabrera has an impressive amount of power for a shortstop, and he has emerged as one of the best in baseball at his position.
Cabrera has seemingly been the offensive leader of the Cleveland Indians for the past two years. He has a career .287 batting average in late and close situations (h/t Baseball-Reference).
Based on the way that he has performed in the big leagues, both the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Oakland Athletics have to regret trading Carlos Gonzalez.
Gonzalez has become a star for the Colorado Rockies, and he is the best player on their roster. There is no doubt that he is the one that they would want at the plate if there was a chance to tie or win the game.
It is hard to find a better pure hitter in baseball than Miguel Cabrera. Once again, Cabrera is putting up numbers that will keep his name in the American League MVP race.
The Detroit Tigers have a number of run producers, including Prince Fielder, but none of them would be a better choice in a clutch situation than Cabrera.
With all of the struggles that the Houston Astros have had this year, there has been one bright spot. Jose Altuve has been outstanding.
The diminutive Altuve may not be racking up a number of RBIs this season, but his ability to get hits at a high rate is what makes him the best late-inning choice for the Astros.
With all of the young talent on the Kansas City Royals roster, they should be able to turn the corner within the next year or two and become a legitimate playoff contender.
If that is the case, there will be a number of moments late in games when they need a big hit. Billy Butler has done a great job of driving in runs, and he will be key in those situations.
Even though Mike Trout is having one of the best rookie seasons in MLB history and should be the American League MVP, he is not the player that the Los Angeles Angels would be best off with in a big-time situation (h/t FanGraphs).
Albert Pujols has been incredible in clutch situations throughout his career. He is a .320 hitter with two outs and runners in scoring position, and he is a .341 hitter in high-leverage situations (h/t Baseball-Reference). Based on his track record, Pujols would be the one to turn to.
Injuries have limited Matt Kemp's playing time this season, but he has still put up outstanding numbers when on the field (h/t Dylan Hernandez of Los Angeles Times).
A healthy Kemp is one of the best players in baseball, and even with their recent additions, he would be the best option for the Dodgers if they needed someone to collect a big hit.
Giancarlo Stanton has the ability to hit the ball a country mile, and he has hit some towering moonshots already this season. He is the best run producer in the Miami Marlins lineup.
While strikeouts have been an issue for Stanton throughout his career, he is still the player that Marlins fans would want at the plate in a big spot.
The reigning National League MVP, Ryan Braun is putting together yet another outstanding season, and he will find himself with a decent chance of taking home that award for the second season in a row.
Braun is currently leading the National League in both home runs and RBI, so it is hard to think of a better choice than him when the Brewers need a hit in the bottom of the ninth (h/t Baseball-Reference).
Joe Mauer's outstanding performance with the Minnesota Twins earned him a massive eight-year, $184 million contract in 2010.
While Mauer may not be living up to the mega-deal, he is still a huge part of the Twins organization. Josh Willingham has been the best hitter on the Twins this year, but Mauer is the better option because of his plate discipline.
David Wright is the current face of the New York Mets franchise, and he is one of the best players on their team. He has come through for the Mets in the past, and they'll expect him to continue doing so (h/t David Lennon of Newsday).
Throughout his career, Wright is a .286 hitter in late and close situations (h/t Baseball-Reference). Given his track record, he is the one that Mets fans would want to see at the plate in a big situation.
Derek Jeter has earned his nickname of "The Captain." When there is a big moment, the New York Yankees want their leader at the plate.
A career .313 hitter, Jeter is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and will not be fazed by any high-pressure situation. Jeter actually picks things up a little in big spots, as he has a .316 batting average in high-leverage situations throughout his career (h/t Baseball-Reference).
The transition to the major leagues has gone fairly well for Yoenis Cespedes. His success is one of the big reasons why the Oakland Athletics are fighting for a playoff spot.
Even in his first season in the majors, Cespedes has not had a problem in high-leverage situations. He is a .380 hitter in 59 high-leverage plate appearances (h/t Baseball-Reference).
Carlos Ruiz is in the midst of the best season of his career for the Philadelphia Phillies. He has also looked like the best offensive player on their roster this year.
Ruiz has done a good job of driving in runs. He just looks like he is in the zone whenever he steps to the plate. Through 271 at-bats with two outs and runners in scoring position during his career, Ruiz has driven in 100 runs (h/t Baseball-Reference).
Part of the reason that the Pittsburgh Pirates have gone through a meteoric rise over the past few years and have looked like a playoff contender is because of the play of Andrew McCutchen.
McCutchen is an absolute stud, and he is by far the best player on the Pirates roster. With a batting average nearing .350 this season, there is no reason why McCutchen shouldn't be the player that goes to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with men on.
While Carlos Quentin may be only a .253 hitter for his career, he is able to focus in on pitches much better in high-pressure situations.
During his career, Quentin has come to the plate in 560 high-leverage situations. He has collected 163 RBI and is a .280 hitter in those scenarios (h/t Baseball-Reference).
Buster Posey, the young San Francisco Giants catcher, is a franchise cornerstone and a big reason for all of the success that they have had recently.
Posey is one of the best hitting catchers in the major leagues, and he has been locked in this season. His .330 batting average is evidence of that. Posey has driven in 85 runs this year, and 22 of them have come in the seventh inning or later (h/t Baseball-Reference).
The Seattle Mariners have had a rough go of it this year, and they have had only one consistent run producer all season. Kyle Seager leads the team with 77 RBI, which is 25 more than his closest teammate.
Based on his performance this season, it would make sense that Seager would be the one that the Mariners want at the plate in a big situation.
Timely hitting and phenomenal defense have led some to call Yadier Molina a top-three MVP candidate (h/t Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch). Molina is certainly deserving of that praise.
With two outs and runners in scoring position, Molina has hit .298 for his career (h/t Baseball-Reference). He is a veteran who can perform well, even under high-pressure situations.
The Tampa Rays have found ways to win without Evan Longoria in their lineup for most of the season, but they are much better off when he is playing. Missing Longoria has certainly hurt them in a number of situations.
Longoria is the best run producer that the Rays have. Coming into the year, his lowest RBI total was 85, and that came during his rookie year.
With two outs and runners on in the bottom of the ninth, a healthy Longoria is the man that the Rays want at the plate.
Josh Hamilton has been absolutely lights out for the Texas Rangers over the past few seasons, and it is clear that he is one of the best players in baseball. Even in the Rangers' loaded lineup, Hamilton stands out.
Hamilton is currently the American League leader in RBIs. He gets in a zone with two outs and runners in scoring position, and Hamilton is a .307 hitter in those situations (h/t Baseball-Reference).
Jose Bautista is out for the year because of wrist surgery, but there is no doubt that when he is healthy, the Blue Jays want him coming to the plate when there are runners on base late in a game (h/t Associated Press via ESPN).
Bautista has been terrorizing pitchers in the American League for the past few seasons, and he is an RBI machine. At any moment, Bautista could hit one over the fence and give his team a walk-off victory.
The Washington Nationals are a near lock to make the playoffs this season with a 99.9 percent chance of getting there, according to Cool Standings. That means that they will likely have some key moments later this season.
With all of the talented bats in the Nationals lineup, it is hard for them to go wrong with anyone coming to the plate. However, the best option to get a big hit is Ryan Zimmerman. He has been an outstanding run producer throughout his career, and he has come up big late in games before (h/t Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post).