As we head into the final stretch of the season, each MLB team knows whether or not it has what it takes to be a real contender.
Teams like the Pirates and Mets, both feel-good stories of the 2011 season, have started to fizzle. Once the division leader, Pittsburgh now trails both the Brewers and Cardinals in the NL Central and is 10 games back. Tampa Bay, despite its ever-producing talent system, cannot match the power and depth of the Yankees or Red Sox, and won’t be able to make up the difference in the standings either.
With about eight weeks of baseball left before the postseason, the list of viable contenders has been cut to 14 teams. Here is a look at each team’s most crucial player down the stretch, as they hope to enter the world of October baseball.