MLB Playoffs 2013: Predictions for This Postseason's Breakout Stars

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2013

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 04:  Josh Donaldson #20 of the Oakland Athletics swings and watches the flight of his ball as he hits a three-run homer in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Coliseum on September 4, 2013 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

As always, the headlines heading into the MLB playoffs surround the superstars and how far they can carry their respective teams. Players like Miguel Cabrera, Andrew McCutchen, Dustin Pedroia and Clayton Kershaw are all crucial to their teams' success.

Yet they can't do it alone. October is usually a time in baseball when new stars are made. Players who flew under the radar for a majority of the regular season step into the spotlight and show why they deserve more attention, often with spectacular play.

Knowing that, let's take a closer look at a group of players who have a golden opportunity to enjoy individual breakouts while also helping their teams move through the postseason. They are all household names in the making.


Josh Donaldson (Oakland Athletics)

Before 2013, Donaldson had appeared in fewer than 100 games at the major league level and showed very few signs of being an MVP-caliber player. He hit below .250, had an on-base percentage under .300 and had just 10 home runs.

This season, however, he was one of the best hitters in the American League. He posted an OPS of .883, good for seventh in the junior circuit, ahead of players like Jose Bautista, Evan Longoria, Prince Fielder and the aforementioned Pedroia.

He, along fellow with unheralded players Jed Lowrie and Brandon Moss, helped lead an Oakland offense that lacks star power to the fourth-most runs in baseball. Donaldson and Co. are a serious threat to the Cabrera-led Detroit Tigers in the divisional series.

Prediction: .315 with four homers and 10 RBI


Andrelton Simmons (Atlanta Braves)

Simmons is still a work in progress at the plate. While he did finish the regular season with 17 homers, his on-base percentage was below .300 and he wasn't able to fill the leadoff void for Atlanta. But in his case, hitting is only a complementary factor.

The reason the 24-year-old shortstop is worth watching is his awe-inspiring defense. He led the league in defensive runs saved with 41, according to Fangraphs. His amazing range and rocket arm have a direct impact on the Braves' pitching staff leading the majors in ERA.

It's not just highlight-reel plays, either. Simmons does all the little things right, from positioning to backing up plays and knowing when to take a chance to get the extra out. He might hit a key home run, but it's his play in the field that fans should marvel at.

Prediction: Two key home runs with several terrific defensive plays


Matt Carpenter (St. Louis Cardinals)

If you want to understand how the Cardinals continue to compete for championships on a yearly basis without a bunch of huge stars, look no further than players like Carpenter, a hitter who gets the job done consistently minus the hype.

The St. Louis second baseman was a solid player last year. He hit .294 with 22 doubles and 44 runs scored in 114 games. He took his play to a completely different level in 2013, hitting .318 with a league-leading 55 doubles and 126 runs.

Carpenter's ability to get on base atop the Cardinals' lineup puts constant pressure on opposing pitchers and puts teammates like Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran in a position to succeed. He holds the key to the team's postseason success, and that's good news for St. Louis.

Prediction: .330 with six doubles and 12 runs



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