2017 MLB Postseason Choke Rankings: The Biggest Big-Game Duds So Far

Joel ReuterFeatured ColumnistOctober 18, 2017

2017 MLB Postseason Choke Rankings: The Biggest Big-Game Duds So Far

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    The MLB postseason has a funny way of amplifying even the smallest of sample sizes.

    A player who gets hot for a couple weeks has a chance to immortalize himself as a playoff hero while potentially helping to lead his team to a World Series title.

    However, that works both ways, as a player's short-term struggles also tend to be magnified.

    Ahead we've named the five biggest duds of the postseason to this point, picking from the four teams that are still alive. The Houston Astros and New York Yankees are tied at two games apiece in the American League Championship Series, while the Los Angeles Dodgers have a 3-0 lead over the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS.

    We've also provided a quick list of offenders from teams who have already been eliminated.

Biggest Duds from Eliminated Teams

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press
    • Xander Bogaerts, BOS: 1-for-17, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 4 K
    • Gio Gonzalez, WAS: 2 GS, 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 8.0 IP, 6 H, 6 ER
    • Corey Kluber, CLE: 2 GS, 0-1, 12.79 ERA, 6.1 IP, 10 H, 9 ER
    • Dustin Pedroia, BOS: 2-for-16, 0 XBH, 0 RBI
    • Drew Pomeranz, BOS: 1 GS, 0-1, 18.00 ERA, 2.0 IP, 5 H, 4 ER
    • Jose Ramirez, CLE: 2-for-20, 0 XBH, 0 RBI, 7 K 
    • Chris Sale, BOS: 2 G, 1 GS, 0-2, 8.38 ERA, 9.2 IP, 13 H, 9 ER  
    • Trea Turner, WAS: 3-for-21, 1 2B, 7 K, 1 SB  
    • Taijuan Walker, ARI: 1 GS, 0-1, 36.00 ERA, 1.0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER  

5. Houston Astros' Role Players

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    Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

    A dangerous lineup top to bottom was the Houston Astros' calling card during the regular season and it helped them lead the majors in runs scored (896), batting average (.282) and OPS (.823).

    The stars of the lineup have performed as expected this postseason:

    • Jose Altuve (.448 BA, 1.314 OPS, 3 HR, 4 RBI)
    • Carlos Correa (.250 BA, .908 OPS, 3 HR, 9 RBI)
    • George Springer (.258 BA, .780 OPS, 1 HR, 2 RBI)

    However, aside from veteran/rookie Yuli Gurriel, the complementary players have struggled:

    • Carlos Beltran (.214 BA, .624 OPS, 1 RBI)
    • Josh Reddick (.207 BA, .488 OPS, 2 RBI)
    • Alex Bregman (.194 BA, .662 OPS, 2 HR, 3 RBI)
    • Marwin Gonzalez (.148 BA, .456 OPS, 2 RBI)
    • Brian McCann (.083 BA, .083 OPS, 2 RBI)

    For a team whose biggest strength was a lineup that never gave the opposing pitcher a chance to catch his breath, getting more production from the Nos. 2 and 5-9 spots in the order will be crucial going forward.

4. Gary Sanchez

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    Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

    Gary Sanchez was 2-for-4 in the Wild Card Game and he drove in three runs Tuesday.

    In between, he went 4-for-34 (.118) with 15 strikeouts and just one walk, including an 0-for-18 slump prior to his seventh-inning double in Game 4.

    The Yankees have asked a lot of their young hitters this postseason and that will continue to be the case going forward.

    Greg Bird and Didi Gregorius have both come up with some big hits, and Aaron Judge has managed to find a way to be a positive contributor despite striking out a whopping 22 strikeouts in 45 plate appearances.

    Can last night's performance be a turning point for Sanchez?

    Manager Joe Girardi thinks so.

    "He's a really good hitter," Girardi told reporters. "I've seen Hall of Famers struggle in a series or two in the playoffs. It's just part of it. But eventually it's going to turn for him and it did in a big way tonight."

    Another big hit or two will be all it takes to knock him out of these rankings.

3. Chicago Cubs' Setup Relievers

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    Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

    Walks will absolutely kill you in the postseason, especially when it comes to high-leverage situations late in the game.

    The Chicago Cubs bullpen has inexplicably walked 23 hitters in 28.1 innings en route to a 6.35 ERA this postseason.

    Ace setup man Carl Edwards Jr. has been the biggest culprit with six walks in 4.2 innings, including an inexcusable bases-loaded walk of Yu Darvish Tuesday.

    While his struggles have been the most visible, Edwards is far from the only issue in the Chicago bullpen, and a lack of faith in his relief corps has undoubtedly changed how manager Joe Maddon has approached games.

    Closer Wade Davis is a stud and he turned in a masterful performance in Game 5 of the National League Division Series, but having a lights-out closer doesn't mean anything if you can't get him the ball with a lead.

    Jake Arrieta lasted just four innings in his NLDS start and he's been battling a hamstring injury over the past month, so it could fall on the bullpen once again with the team facing elimination in Game 4 Wednesday.

2. Brad Peacock and Charlie Morton

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    Kathy Willens/Associated Press

    Co-aces Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander have done their part atop the Houston Astros rotation, and Lance McCullers Jr. looked terrific over six innings Tuesday after pitching out of the bullpen in the ALDS.

    However, Brad Peacock and Charlie Morton have put the Astros in a tough spot.

    Peacock was nothing short of a revelation during the regular season, going 13-2 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 161 strikeouts in 132 innings while splitting his time between the rotation and bullpen.

    After going 3-1 with a 2.68 ERA over his final nine starts, he earned the Game 3 start in the ALDS but lasted just 2.2 innings while allowing six hits, one walk and three earned runs.

    Morton was equally impressive in his first season with the Astros while returning from hamstring surgery as he went 14-7 with a 3.62 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 163 strikeouts in 146.2 innings while discovering some additional fastball velocity.

    However, he turned in a mediocre start in the ALDS (4.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER) and was shelled in Game 3 of the ALCS (3.2 IP, 6 H, 7 ER).

    With the ALCS knotted at 2-2, the Astros are lined up to throw Keuchel in Game 5 and Verlander in Game 6, but what if there's a Game 7?

1. Chicago Cubs Offense

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    Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

    The Cubs had the most potent offense in baseball during the second half of the season, scoring 5.7 runs per game while hitting .273 with an .811 OPS.

    Anyone who has watched even a few innings of the NLCS might find that hard to believe.

    They've plated a meager four runs on 15 hits through the first three games of the series, and the plate discipline that allowed them to rank second in the majors in walks has completely disappeared—they have just four walks against 32 strikeouts.

    And it's been a total team effort.

    The NLDS matchup with the Nationals wasn't much better as they hit .180 over the five-game series, but they still found ways to score when the rare opportunity presented itself.

    Simply put, the Cubs are staring down a 3-0 deficit, and its offensive ineptitude deserves a good chunk of the blame.

           

    All stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, unless otherwise noted.