2013 MLB Playoffs

MLB Playoffs 2013: Stars Who Need to Step Up the Most over the Weekend

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 30:  David Price #14 of the Tampa Bay Rays sits in the dugout after being pulled from the game against the Texas Rangers during the American League Wild Card tiebreaker game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 30, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 5, 2013

Postseason success can define a baseball player's career.

Without his three home runs in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series, Reggie Jackson probably isn't remembered. Conversely, Alex Rodriguez is probably looked at more fondly if he made a better account of himself in the playoffs.

So who's going to be the hero of this postseason?

It's still way too early to tell. Fans generally don't remember a great performance in the ALDS or NLDS. Roy Halladay threw a no-hitter in the 2010 NLDS? So what? It was great and all, but the Philadelphia Phillies ended up losing in the NLCS.

That doesn't mean some of the biggest stars can afford to fall asleep for a series and then turn it on in the next round.

These four players will have to lead the way for their teams if they hope to advance to the LCS.

 

Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 03:  Carlos Beltran #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits a three-run home run in the third inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates during Game One of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 3, 2013 in St Louis, M
Elsa/Getty Images

When most people think of Carlos Beltran in the postseason, they immediately jump to him getting frozen by that Adam Wainwright curveball in 2006. It's an extremely unfair portrayal of a player who's been otherwise great in the playoffs, via ESPN Stats and Info.

Even at 36 years old, Beltran is a vital part of the St. Louis Cardinals offense. During the regular season, he was first in home runs (24), second in slugging percentage (.491) and third in runs batted in (84).

While that home run was big, it's only one of two hits Beltran has had in nine NLDS at-bats. It's not going to be a problem if he keeps hitting homers. More than likely, he won't, so he'll at least have to find some consistency at the plate.

 

David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 30:  David Price #14 of the Tampa Bay Rays pitches against the Texas Rangers in the first inning of the American League Wild Card tiebreaker game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 30, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays don't have a great offense. The hitters have been good enough to get Tampa this far. It's the Rays pitching staff that has had to do the most work.

Although he hasn't been at his best, David Price is the unquestioned ace of the staff. When Tampa is in a must-win game, it turns to Price.

That's exactly what the Rays could be looking at on Saturday. Having dropped Game 1, it's important to get that win before Game 3. That way, you can lock up the series at home and not have to go to Boston for the decider.

Price is 2-2 with a 2.48 ERA in five starts against the Red Sox this season. He'll have to be at his best, because it's unlikely the offense will give him much help.

 

Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 29:  Pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers throws against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park on September 29, 2013 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Jason Arnold/Getty Images)
Jason Arnold/Getty Images

Staying with the aces, Justin Verlander looked decidedly unlike Justin Verlander this season. While his strikeout averages have been about the same, his walks and hits allowed have increased.

Before the season, you never would have thought he'd be the third-best starter in the Detroit Tigers pitching staff. In the regular season, Verlander could get away with not being his best and watching Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez do the heavy lifting.

It's a courtesy he won't be afforded in the playoffs.

Game 1 between the Tigers and Oakland Athletics has yet to start, so this could end up changing by the end of the night. But much like with Price, it will be vital for Verlander to get that win before going back home.

Detroit was only 42-39 on the road during the regular season. It won't want to leave its hopes of advancing up to getting a win in Game 5 at Oakland.

 

Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 28:  Right fielder Justin Upton #8 of the Atlanta Braves slides into second base for a double during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on September 28, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Get
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

If you have found Justin Upton, please notify the proper authorities. He went missing on October 2 and hasn't been seen since. His family is very worried about him.

Upton led the team in home runs (27) during the regular season and was second in runs batted in (70). Having a big bat like this absent isn't going to help the Atlanta Braves going to Los Angeles.

Perhaps you'd be a little less discouraged if the outfielder was making good contact, only hitting it right at people.

Only Upton looks to be really pressing and not hitting the ball well at all, especially through his first six at-bats of the postseason, via FOX Sports' Jon Morosi.

Whatever is wrong with Upton, he must figure it out before Game 3.

Where can I comment?

Stay on your game

Latest news, insights, and forecasts on your teams across leagues.

Choose Teams
Get it on the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Real-time news for your teams right on your mobile device.

Download
Copyright © 2017 Bleacher Report, Inc. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved. BleacherReport.com is part of Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network, part of the Turner Sports and Entertainment Network. Certain photos copyright © 2017 Getty Images. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of Getty Images is strictly prohibited. AdChoices