Every series, the World Series being no exception, has an out-of-nowhere star come through in the clutch. In the NLCS, it was Cody Ross for the Giants. He could not be retired. For the Rangers, Colby Lewis came through with two great starts in a rotation where he was the third, or possibly fourth guy.
With that being said, there are still a group of players who you KNOW will make a difference. These guys are not necessarily the best from each team, but definitely the most influential. A lot rides on the performance of all of these men.
Here are the top nine most important players in the 2010 World Series.
Why nine? As the stupendous television show "Prime Nine" explains, "Why nine? That's baseball. Nine players, nine innings, Prime Nine!"
He is not the Rangers' best hitter. He won't single-handedly win the series for Texas. However, if he comes through with a big performance, and most importantly, if he plays in every game, Texas will be in great shape.
Cruz got a little banged up in the ALCS but managed not to miss a game. He has had health problems his whole career, leading to the high hopes everyone has for him but the disappointing returns.
A 10 or 11 hit series with a handful of RBIs from Nelson Cruz would push the Rangers over the top, assuming another one or two guys in the lineup give him some help.
Brian Wilson is an odd man. The mohawk, the dyed beard, but boy does he come through.
He doesn't always make it comfortable for Giants fans, but he gets the job done. If they give him a lead with three, four, or five outs left, I'd feel confident he would shut the door.
He has been pretty good in the playoffs with only one hiccup, and he's been so solid for years now in the regular season, the Giants would feel good handing him the ball up in the 9th.
Here is a man that can be called an x-factor. So much rides on him. Tommy Hunter is the scheduled starter for game four. He was not good in the ALCS, but was surprisingly good in the regular season after returning from injury. That is the reason he will get the ball again in the World Series over youngster Derek Holland.
Say the Rangers are down 2-1 heading into game four. Are they feeling good sending Hunter to the mound? They'll say yes, obviously, but they won't be confident. Comparatively, what if they are up 2-1 or even 3-0? The reason Hunter is so important is because of the game he will be pitching and the fact that we don't know what he will give the Rangers.
Importance, in this case, is all about opportunity.
Timmy Lince is obviously the Giants best pitcher and best player. Here's why he can't be any higher though. Is there any way he wins more than one game in this series? Any way at all?
He will be matched up against Cliff Lee in both game one and game five. The Giants would sign up for a split right now, you can bet on that. If Lincecum manages to win both, (assuming there is a game five) the Giants will most assuredly win the series. But I don't see that happening.
This is a man you would call a difference-maker. He might be the AL MVP (although I'd still vote for Robinson Cano). He is also the Rangers best hitter. Similarly to Cruz, Hamilton has had his share of injury problems, even through September, but that should not be a problem for him in the series.
The difference between him and Nelson Cruz is the affect on the rest of the lineup. Teams aren't pitching around Cruz. Josh Hamilton is someone that either has to be avoided, or has to be gotten out, because he has the speed and power to wreck havoc. Just ask the Yankees.
If Hamilton goes off, the Rangers might not need anyone else to hit very well to still win this thing.
Obviously, as has been beaten to death, Cliff Lee is an unstoppable, playoff pitching machine. His numbers are better than Sandy Koufax's. He has been nearly unhittable and strikes out ten a game like it's a predetermined destiny.
If he wins game one and five, the Rangers are set up well, but here's why he can't be higher on this list. He will not be lined up to pitch game seven. And, as previously discussed, he is facing Tim Lincecum in both starts. That is no easy task in either direction.
Especially with the Giants clear rotation advantage in a game two/six, the Rangers almost need to win both Lee starts, or else they'd be way behind the eight ball.
And, no, that wasn't a Ron Washington joke. That's actually a saying for some reason.
Feliz is young, throws hard, and is a ball of excitement. Do Rangers fans trust him to close out playoff games though?
He was a bit shaky in the ALCS even when he was given comfortable leads. Of course he ended up getting the job done, but if he ever comes into a World Series 9th inning with a one run lead and walks the first batter, (which isn't out of the question) how nervous does the state of Texas get?
He is technically no more important than Brian Wilson would be, except when you factor in the unknown. When there is a large chance he might make himself very important to the opponent, that is an influential player.
Jonathan Sanchez is a series turner. In the NLCS, he pitched game two. For the World Series he was bumped back to game three. Game three is the swing game. If a team down 0-2 loses it, that's most likely the end. In any of the other combinations, the game three starter will always swing the momentum.
The problem is Sanchez was, to be kind, a bit erratic in his last start. Rumor had it the Giants were considering starting Barry Zito instead. I don't actually believe that was seriously considered, but if the idea was even out there, confidence in Sanchez can not be sky high.
Especially if Lincecum loses game one to Lee, the game three performance by Jonathan Sanchez will be what the series hinges on. An outstanding outing might propel San Francisco to the title. Another bad game and their year could be over.
The swing game is being pitched by the most unpredictable pitcher in this series.
Now you might not think Buster Posey is that great a hitter. Not yet at least. Well, first of all, you would be wrong. Already, at the age of 22, Posey is the Giants' best hitter.
San Fran has had such problems scoring runs, all playoffs and all year, that the most important player in this World Series has to be the only guy who can ignite this offense.
Unlike Josh Hamilton, who also can win the series with his bat, Posey has little to no help. If the Giants score less than four runs every game this series, they could absolutely win it, but it would be so tough.
If, however, Posey goes crazy like the NL Rookie of the Year winner is capable of, (yes, he should win over Heyward) and the Giants put up some crooked numbers for their staff, they will take home the rings. You can be sure of that.