The World Series 2013 matchup is not quite set, but there are a few players who have stood out as potential MVP candidates, should their team advance to the Fall Classic.
Here's a look at how the World Series schedule plays out:
|1||Wednesday, Oct. 23||8:07 p.m.||FOX|
|2||Thursday, Oct. 24||8:07 p.m.||FOX|
|3||Saturday, Oct. 26||8:07 p.m.||FOX|
|4||Sunday, Oct. 27||8:15 p.m.||FOX|
|5 (if necessary)||Monday, Oct. 28||8:07 p.m.||FOX|
|6 (if necessary)||Wednesday, Oct. 30||8:07 p.m.||FOX|
|7 (if necessary)||Thursday, Oct. 31||8:07 p.m.||FOX|
Who are the best potential MVP candidates? These four players have each made a case for getting that honor.
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
Justin Verlander has been absolutely dominant in the postseason. He's given up just one earned run in 23 innings, which equates to a ridiculous 0.39 ERA.
He's the Tigers' best pitcher and he gives them the best chance of winning a title. Without him, the Tigers wouldn't be in the ALCS, let alone in the World Series, should they reach it.
Plus, according to ESPN Stats & Info, his postseason performance has been historic:
Justin Verlander is 2nd pitcher in MLB history with 10+ K, 0 R allowed in back-to-back postseason games. Other: Sandy Koufax, 1965 WS G5+7— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 11, 2013
Verlander did lose in Game 3 of the ALCS, but he pitched terrifically. If the Tigers end up winning it all, it will be on the strength of Verlander's right arm. That's worthy of a MVP trophy.
David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
On one hand, you have to put up big numbers to win a World Series MVP. On the other, you need to have some big moments.
David Ortiz certainly has the latter. His grand slam in Game 2 of the ALCS propelled the Red Sox to a much-needed win, and now they are on the cusp of reaching the Fall Classic.
As the MLB official Twitter page notes, it was a historic homer:
He's only batting .219, but moments like that are what make Papi so great. He is pretty much guaranteed to deliver a big moment—that's all he does.
If the Red Sox advance, look for him to have a fantastic World Series, coming up with a few huge hits to help propel Boston to another title.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw has a chance to bolster his MVP resume with a big performance Friday night. He's taking the mound for a Dodgers team that's facing elimination.
They have to feel pretty good about their chances, though. Kershaw has been absolutely dominant this postseason. In 19 postseason innings, Kershaw has given up just one earned run and only eight hits. He has a microscopic 0.47 ERA and 23 strikeouts.
If the Dodgers are going to even make the World Series, they need Kershaw to come up big. He's their best pitcher, and they need him in the biggest game of the year.
Should they come from behind and win the NLCS, then Kershaw will need to pitch twice, potentially three times, for the Dodgers to win. Kershaw and Zach Greinke are the aces, but it's going to be Kershaw who Don Mattingly calls on when the season is on the line.
A lot is riding on his performance in Game 6. If he flops, this conversation is moot.
But if he dominates like many people (myself included) expect, then his name will shoot up in the MVP contention debate. He's the best pitcher in baseball, and now he has a huge stage to show that off to the world. Odds are, he will.
Carlos Beltran, St. Louis Cardinals
Beltran is only batting .200, but his 10 RBIs account for 1/3 of the team's runs.
The entire Cardinals offense is struggling. As a team, they are only batting .193 with a paltry .270 OBP. For comparison's sake, their team batting average in the regular season was .269, which was fourth-best in the league.
So if the Cards are going to win the NLCS and the World Series, they need to start hitting. The best candidate to make that happen is Beltran.
Beltran was a force in the regular season, batting .296 with 24 home runs and 84 RBI. The fact that he's driving in runs with such a low batting average is a testament to the type of impact Beltran can have.
Without Beltran, it's hard to imagine the team escaping the NLDS. He's their best offensive player, and he's going to have to step up if the team wants to win it all.
It says here that he will, and put himself right in the middle of the MVP debate.