Hitters Who Need to Step Up ASAP to Turn MLB Playoff Series Around

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2013

Hitters Who Need to Step Up ASAP to Turn MLB Playoff Series Around

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    The first two games of each Division Series matchup are in the books, and aside from the Boston vs. Tampa Bay series where the Red Sox hold a 2-0 lead, every other series is currently knotted at 1-1 heading into what will be a crucial Game 3.

    Starting pitching remains the single biggest X-factor in any team's postseason success, but getting consistent offensive production goes a long way in winning games as well.

    Though the two games that have been played (three in the case of the Pirates and Rays) are an incredibly small sample size, there are already some key hitters off to slow starts who need to turn things around.

2B Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Regular Season Stats

    .318/.392/.481, 11 HR, 78 RBI, 126 R

     

    Postseason Stats

    1-for-8, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K

     

    Player Overview

    Matt Carpenter may have been the breakout star of 2013, as he stepped into an everyday role for the first time in his career and made a huge impact atop the Cardinals lineup. He led all of baseball in hits (199), doubles (55) and runs scored (126) as a legitimate NL MVP candidate.

    He's gotten off to a slow start in the NLDS, and with the three guys behind him in the lineup in Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and Matt Adams swinging the bat well right now, he needs to start getting on base at the clip they grew accustomed to during the regular season.

RF Andre Ethier, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Regular Season Stats

    .272/.360/.423, 12 HR, 52 RBI, 54 R

     

    Postseason Stats

    0-for-1, 1 BB

     

    Player Overview

    An ankle injury has limited Andre Ethier to pinch-hit duties in the NLDS to this point, and with Matt Kemp already shelved for the duration of the playoffs, the team has been left with utility man Skip Schumaker in an everyday role.

    Both Schumaker (1-for-6) and Carl Crawford (2-for-9) have come out of the gates slowly here in the playoffs, so getting Ethier healthy enough to step into the everyday lineup would be a huge addition to the team's lineup.

CF Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers

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    Regular Season Stats

    .272/.337/.417, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 99 R

     

    Postseason Stats

    1-for-8, 1 R, 5 K

     

    Player Overview

    The trio of Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez have carried the Tigers offense this season, but they still need someone to serve as a table-setter for them, and it's speedster Austin Jackson who fills that role.

    His numbers were down across the board this season, but he has managed to continue cutting down his strikeouts. Jackson was a solid 14-for-50 with six extra-base hits in the postseason last year, and getting him going atop the lineup will be paramount in the team's success.

1B/OF Brandon Moss, Oakland Athletics

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    Regular Season Stats

    .256/.337/.522, 30 HR, 87 RBI, 73 R

     

    Postseason Stats

    1-for-7, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K

     

    Player Overview

    Brandon Moss is one of just a handful of players on the Oakland roster who saw everyday at-bats during the regular season, splitting time between first base and the outfield.

    He ended the year hot, hitting .302/.400/.683 with 19 RBI in 22 games in September, and they need him to get back to carrying the offense from his spot in the middle of the lineup.

RF Wil Myers, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Regular Season Stats

    .293/.354/.478, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 50 R

     

    Postseason Stats

    1-for-13, 0 BB, 5 K

     

    Player Overview

    Wil Myers gave the Rays' offense the immediate spark they were hoping for when he was called up in June, and after struggling in August, he closed out the season with a .308/.362/.542 line in September.

    The 22-year-old misplayed a fly ball in Game 1 which ignited the Red Sox offensive onslaught, but he needs to put that behind him and get back to being an impact bat in the middle of the order if the Rays are going to have any chance of turning things around.

LF Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves

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    Regular Season Stats

    .263/.354/.464, 27 HR, 70 RBI, 94 R

     

    Postseason Stats

    0-for-7, 1 BB, 2 K

     

    Player Overview

    Throughout the season, and throughout his career in general, Justin Upton has been as streaky at the plate as any hitter in baseball.

    He started off the season on fire, and posted a 1.023 OPS with eight home runs and 16 RBI in August, but he finished the season fairly slow and that has carried over into October. He's capable of carrying an offense when he's hot, so the Braves need him to get going.

2B Neil Walker, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Regular Season Stats

    .251/.339/.418, 16 HR, 53 RBI, 62 R

     

    Postseason Stats

    2-for-14, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 R, 2 K

     

    Player Overview

    For most of the second half of the season, the Pirates slotted Neil Walker in the No. 2 spot in their lineup, and that's where he's been once again this postseason.

    He went 2-for-5 with an RBI double in the team's Wild Card Round game against the Reds, but he's 0-for-9 in two games against the Cardinals in the NLDS so far. With Justin Morneau and Pedro Alvarez hitting the ball well right now, getting Walker going setting the table would be big.