In Major League Baseball, like all sports, you need superstars to win championships. It is almost impossible to look at a World Series-winning team throughout history that didn't have at least two true superstar players.
As we all know, however, in a short series, which is what you get in October, anything can happen. A surprising or underrated force can come out of nowhere to take over the postseason and help carry the team to a title.
One of the best examples in recent years was Jeff Suppan with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006. Suppan was never anything special as a starting pitcher in his career. His best ERA in a single season was 3.57 with the Cardinals in 2005. He had a career ERA of 4.70 and averaged 4.92 BB/9 IP with 3.08 BB/9 IP.
That is the very definition of mediocrity right there. Yet for one month in 2006, Suppan pitched the best month of his life. He threw 25.1 innings over four starts, allowing seven earned runs on 19 hits, one home run and won MVP of the National League Championship Series.
While no one would have predicted Suppan to be as good as he was, it is exactly the kind of October story that people will talk about forever—at least, Suppan certainly will, as he was able to parlay that performance into a $42 million contract with Milwaukee that offseason.
So with eight teams battling it out for the one chance at history, who will be the Jeff Suppan for them? Who are the X-factors who will play a pivotal role in the outcome of the World Series?