Talent doesn't always correlate with performance at the MLB level, especially when tiny sample sizes are concerned. For all those stars in the 2013 pennant races who will "boom" and improve their teams' championship hopes, we can identify about as many who'll come up small in limited, high-leverage opportunities.
Show some pity for the busts. Many of them face the adversity of returning from a serious injury with only a few weeks to play or the misfortune of a difficult remaining schedule.
It's impossible to evaluate anyone's skills based on a single September, and even a full season doesn't necessarily provide an accurate representation. Although 2013 stats significantly influenced the following rankings, we recognize, for example, that Bruce Chen hasn't surpassed Justin Verlander despite the fact that he's been more productive lately.
Contributions down the stretch—or lack thereof—could go a long way in determining whether or not players will have their managers' trust come playoff time and how they'll be valued in free agency/trade talks this offseason.
*Stats provided by FanGraphs unless otherwise noted. Updated through the games of Sept. 3.
**Players with zero chance of returning to the field this year (e.g. Tim Hudson, Mark Teixeira) weren't considered.