In 2011, Albert Pujols helped power the Cards to the WS.
In the month of September dreams can come true, or they can just as easily be broken.
Right now for any fan of baseball, the month of September has been extremely entertaining. While two division races have been locked up and both the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals have punched their postseason tickets, there are still several teams vying for that playoff berth.
With every passing baseball season a new story is told, often times one that fans never expected. The 2011 St. Louis Cardinals are evidence of that. Nobody thought they were going to make the playoffs, let alone win the World Series and alas, they accomplished both.
In September and October, Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols powered the offense, combining for a .365 batting average and a .425 OBP.
In other words, they got the job done.
It is those September stars that help propel a team into the playoffs and into baseball lore. While certainly all bets are off once the postseason rolls around, it takes a star in September to ensure the possibility of accomplishing the greater goal—a World Series victory.
There are a couple of caveats to this list. First, I wanted to keep things limited to the modern era of baseball. Therefore, this list only dates back to 1974. Far too many lists are made with the same names upon them.
Second, quantifying a great player is difficult. As noted with Berkman and Pujols, batting average and OBP may be the most readily comparable split statistics available.
It is also necessary for a control to be evident. For consideration, batters must have a minimum of 500 plate appearances in September.
With that in mind, here is a look at 20 men who would become some of the greatest performers in the month of September in all of Major League Baseball history.
Derek Jeter has always been a prolific member of the New York Yankees.
While he owns the monikers of Captain Clutch and Mr. November, Jeter has certainly been Mr. September as well.
The Yankee captain and member of the 3,000-hit club owns a .323 lifetime batting average in September with a .401 OBP and .458 SLG.
In his 1,610 at-bats he has racked up 520 hits, 81 doubles, seven triples, 41 home runs and 192 RBI.
Is it fitting that No. 19 on the list wears No. 19?
Eh, probably not. However, Joey Votto has been the man in his 493 at-bats in September.
Votto owns a .306 lifetime batting average , a .401 OBP and a .572 slugging percentage. He has 151 hits with 50 doubles, three triples, 25 home runs and 83 RBI.
Votto, at 29 years of age, is just hitting his prime years.
For 12 seasons with the Twins and seven with the Angels, Rod Carew feasted on American League pitching.
The story was no different in the month of September.
In 964 at-bats, Carew racked up 312 hits, 41 doubles, 13 triples, 10 home runs and 82 RBI.
He also put up a .324 batting average, .402 OBP and a .424 slugging percentage.
Cecil's boy Prince Fielder has been notoriously good for his entire career.
A perennial All-Star, Fielder brings it every season.
In his 634 at-bats, Fielder owns a .284/.403/.560 batting line. In addition, he has racked up 180 hits, 41 doubles, one triple and 44 home runs with 115 RBI.
Before Albert Pujols roamed first base for the St. Louis Cardinals, Mark McGwire did a fine job of it on his own.
Big Mac had 935 career at-bats with 254 career hits.
Of those hits he had 43 doubles and 100 home runs, the second-highest total of any player on this list, with 225 RBI (third most on this list) while batting .272 with a .405 OBP and .639 slugging percentage...the highest SLG on the list.
The Phillies have a beast of a first baseman on their own.
Ryan Howard has racked up 219 hits in his 750 at-bats, of which 51 were doubles, six were triples and 60 home runs.
He has driven in 177 RBI on the heels of a .292 batting average with a .406 OBP and a .613 slugging percentage.
The Atlanta Braves' iron man, Chipper Jones, has seen his share of September baseball.
In his 19-year career, Jones has had 1,333 career at-bats with 405 hits. Broken down, that equates to 82 doubles, two triples and 72 home runs with 227 RBI.
Only two other batters have more September RBI on this list.
In addition, Jones has batted .304 with a .407 OBP and a .530 slugging percentage.
Through his 14-year career, Lance Berkman has always been a reliable hitter, All-Star and perennial MVP candidate.
Berkman has 1,050 at-bats with 314 hits, 66 doubles, two triples and 58 home runs with 192 RBI.
He owns a career .304 batting average with a .407 OBP and a .530 slugging.
J.D. Drew? Really?
Yup. J.D. Drew.
In his 14 seasons in Major League Baseball, Drew compiled 773 at-bats resulting in 226 hits. That resulted in 52 doubles, seven triples, 36 home runs and 132 RBI with a lifetime .292 batting average, .411 OBP and a .517 SLG.
In the late 1990s there were few players who could match the type of production Larry Walker had on the field.
That production carried over to September, naturally.
In 946 at-bats, Walker had 294 hits with 61 doubles, eight triples, 52 home runs and 180 RBI.
During that time he owned a .311 batting average with a .412 OBP and a .557 slugging percentage.
At one time the tandem of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz was the most feared No. 3 and No. 4 batters in all of baseball.
A lot of damage was done at the hands of that duo.
Ramirez saw 1,296 at-bats. He managed 404 hits with 84 doubles, two triples and 89 home runs with 288 RBI. Only one man on this list had more RBI.
He owned a .312 average with a .414 OBP and a .586 SLG.
The 2009 American League MVP has been a face of the Twins franchise since arriving in 2004.
His play in September has been exemplary, despite losing out on four division series titles during his tenure on the team.
In 532 at-bats, Mauer has 175 hits, 28 doubles, three triples and 13 home runs while driving in 69 RBI. During the month, he owns a .329 batting average, slightly higher than his career .323 average, with a .415 OBP and a .466 SLG.
An unassuming name on the list, Brian Giles was excellent for the San Diego Padres in the month of September.
In 1,052 career at-bats, he managed 315 hits, 70 for doubles, seven for triples and 43 for home runs while knocking in 174 RBI.
Further, he posted a .299 batting average with a .415 OBP and a .502 slugging percentage.
Big Hurt, Frank Thomas, was a beast—regardless of what month it was.
It comes as no surprise that he therefore was one of the top performers in the month of September.
In his 1,171 career at-bats, he managed 364 hits, 75 of which for doubles, with 70 home runs and an impressive 244 RBI, third all time on this list.
His batting line was just as impressive, adding a .311 average with a .415 OBP and a .554 slugging percentage.
Edgar Martinez, a man that many would argue was the greatest designated hitter of all time, certainly delivered all of the time.
In 1,110 at-bats, he put up 348 hits, 77 of which were doubles, four were triples and 39 home runs while driving in 155 RBI.
On top of that, he owned a .314 batting average with a .422 OBP and a .495 slugging percentage.
One of the greatest players of his generation, arguably the greatest Astro of all time, Jeff Bagwell delivered the goods.
In 1,163 career at-bats, he would rack up 369 hits, 77 for doubles, three for triples and 60 were home runs while driving in 232 RBI.
His batting line was just as impressive with a .317 batting average, .422 OBP and a .543 slugging percentage.
Wade Boggs spent all 18 seasons of his major league career in the American League East.
It comes as no surprise that one of the greatest all-around hitters in baseball history delivered in September.
In his 1,430 at-bats, Boggs racked up 483 hits, 91 of which were doubles, eight triples and 12 home runs while driving in 165 RBI.
His batting line was .338 with a .428 OBP and a .438 slugging percentage.
Albert Pujols will find his name in any conversation centering around the greatest player in Major League Baseball today.
Of course, that isn't without good reasoning. The three-time National League MVP and former NL Rookie of the Year has a fierce repertoire of statistical evidence to support the case.
Throughout his career, his September numbers have been just as impressive.
In 1,083 at-bats, Pujols has racked up 364 hits, 94 of which were doubles, two triples and 62 home runs while driving in 232 RBI.
In the same time span, he managed a .336 batting average with a .429 OBP and a .529 SLG.
Arguably the single greatest member of the Rockies franchise, Todd Helton has done nothing but deliver, deliver, deliver for the Rox.
In his 1,130 at-bats, Helton pounded 377 hits, 85 doubles, five triples and 57 home runs while driving in 213 RBI.
On the heels of that hitting performance, he mustered a .334 batting average with an eye-popping .442 OBP and a .569 slugging percentage.
Love him or hate him, Barry Bonds has been one of the most prolific stars Major League Baseball has seen in the last 30 years.
Shelve your thoughts regarding his steroid use and check out his statistics for a moment.
In his 1,620 at-bats, Bonds managed 479 hits with 98 doubles, more than anyone else on this list; 16 triples, more than anyone else on this list; and 119 home runs, you guessed it, more than anyone else on this list.
In addition, his 304 RBI surpasses everyone else on this list.
If you're still hung up on the steroid portion, Bonds owns a batting line that should still, in some regard, earn your respect. He has a .296 September batting average with an incredible .445 OBP and a .596 slugging percentage.
His 112 intentional walks is almost triple his next runner-up, Albert Pujols with 44.
As I said, love him or hate him, you have to respect what Bonds did in September.