MLB Playoff Bracket 2013: Biggest X-Factors in ALCS and NLCS Matchups
It's often difficult to forecast X-factors for playoff series, largely because the unsung hero is so prevalent on the grandest of stages.
However, it's often reasonable to take a look at the information from the regular season and make predictions for just that based on what we know about each team still in contention.
We're down to four teams in the 2013 MLB playoffs, and the St. Louis Cardinals took steps toward more October glory with a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series Friday night.
The Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox will do battle on Saturday, and before that happens, now is a great time to look at the current postseason landscape with respect to how things might end.
It's also a good time to look at X-factors for the two remaining league series, which we will do below.
Remaining 2013 MLB Postseason Schedule, Listings
|Game 1||St. Louis 3, Los Angeles 2 (13)||-||-||-||-|
|Game 2||Los Angeles Dodgers @ St. Louis Cardinals||Sat, Oct. 12||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV|
|Game 3||St. Louis Cardinals @ Los Angeles Dodgers||Mon, Oct. 14||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV|
|Game 4||St. Louis Cardinals @ Los Angeles Dodgers||Tue, Oct. 15||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV|
|Game 5*||St. Louis Cardinals @ Los Angeles Dodgers||Wed, Oct. 16||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV|
|Game 6*||Los Angeles Dodgers @ St. Louis Cardinals||Fri, Oct. 18||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV|
|Game 7*||Los Angeles Dodgers @ St. Louis Cardinals||Sat, Oct. 19||TBD||TBS||Postseason.TV|
|Game 1||Detroit Tigers @ Boston Red Sox||Sat, Oct. 12||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 2||Detroit Tigers @ Boston Red Sox||Sun, Oct. 13||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 3||Boston Red Sox @ Detroit Tigers||Tue, Oct. 15||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 4||Boston Red Sox @ Detroit Tigers||Wed, Oct. 16||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 5*||Boston Red Sox @ Detroit Tigers||Thu, Oct. 17||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 6*||Detroit Tigers @ Boston Red Sox||Sat, Oct. 19||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 7*||Detroit Tigers @ Boston Red Sox||Sun, Oct. 20||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 1||NL Champion @ AL Champion||Wed, Oct. 23||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 2||NL Champion @ AL Champion||Thu, Oct. 24||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 3||AL Champion @ NL Champion||Sat, Oct. 26||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 4||AL Champion @ NL Champion||Sun, Oct. 27||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 5*||AL Champion @ NL Champion||Mon, Oct. 28||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 6*||NL Champion @ AL Champion||Wed, Oct. 30||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
|Game 7*||NL Champion @ AL Champion||Thu, Oct. 31||TBD||FOX||Postseason.TV|
Big Papi might be pushing 40, but his postseason experience and thunder-producing swing are key for the Red Sox to return to World Series glory.
In fact, you might say Ortiz is the biggest key for Boston in a season in which things have been clicking on all cylinders for the majority of the year.
As noted by this MLB tweet, Ortiz can still hit with the best of them:
Sports Illustrated's Twitter account wasn't shy in proclaiming that Papi is hitting like he is in his prime:
David Ortiz is almost 38, but hits like he's 28 -- and the Rays are feeling it. The Sox lead the ALDS 2-0: http://t.co/z2bYi5s0st— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) October 6, 2013
With a lineup that can go boom at virtually any moment, Ortiz is still the man who will be counted on to drive in runs and provide clutch hits for the AL contenders. Facing a Detroit Tigers pitching staff, he'll have no luxury of seeing meat in the ALCS.
Luckily, he's been in big spots before. Other Red Sox have too, but Papi is still around for a reason. We'll see what he has left in the tank against Detroit.
Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals
It's getting redundant, but man Carlos Beltran loves the postseason.
The 36-year-old do-it-all outfielder now has 34 RBI in 40 career postseason games, and was the hero again on Friday night as his single in the bottom of the 13th gave St. Louis a 3-2 victory over Los Angeles in Game 1 of the NLCS.
It's hard to believe he'd never had a walk-off before in the postseason, but he does now:
As noted by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, clutch is the word that most comes to mind when talking about Beltran:
It's difficult to quantify clutch, but Carlos Beltran is a career .283/.359/.496 hitter in regular season and .345/.449/.750 in postseason.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 12, 2013
Who will win the World Series?
Both teams in the NLCS are loaded with talent. We could have just as easily listed Matt Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina or one of the rookie pitchers for St. Louis, and Los Angeles' X-factors include Yasiel Puig, Clayton Kershaw and Andre Ethier.
But Beltran reminded us again in Game 1 why the Cardinals are so dangerous. He accounted for their entire offense, and picked the team up on a night where a loss wouldn't have been a surprise.
It doesn't get any more X-factor than that.
Follow B/R's Ethan Grant on Twitter.
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