MLB Playoffs: Ranking Every Contender's Most Valuable Hitter Down the Stretch
With the regular season winding down, the 2011 MLB postseason participants are getting clearer and clearer. As each of these teams attempt to push their way to the World Series they will need their hitters to come through. Some will have more of an impact than others.
This is not necessarily the best hitter on each team that will hit the ball out of the park every time. These are the hitters that will need to produce and get on base however they can in order to help their team advance through every stage of the playoffs.
With that said, let's begin.
New York Yankees: Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson is one of the front runners in the American League MVP race this year.
He is on pace to reach 150 runs by the end of the season. The last person to reach that number: Joe DiMaggio in 1937 with 151 runs.
Granderson should continue his ownage throughout the rest of the season and into the playoffs.
Boston Red Sox: Adrian Gonzalez
The Red Sox have several big hitters on their team, including Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia.
The way Adrian Gonzalez ends the season will have the huge impact on how Boston ends their season. He was on fire before the All-Star Break and cooled off later. However he’s still batting .336 on the season with 26 home runs.
He’s been hurting with left calf tightness but if he can stay healthy he will be a make-or-break player as the Red Sox try to secure that Wild Card position.
Tampa Bay Rays: Evan Longoria
You can see the impact Evan Longoria has on the Tampa Bay Rays as recently as the past week.
In the past 10 games he has three home runs and 12 RBI. His .244 batting average this season is not too impressive but he has done a good job of coming through in important situations.
He has to continue his success throughout the rest of the year in order to help the Rays overtake the Red Sox in that AL Wild Card spot.
Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera
The Tigers have been having a great season. Several different players have had tremendous years so far and Miguel Cabrera is one of them.
He has 20 intentional walks in the season, which is only second in the American League to Jose Bautista. He has the third best batting average in the AL.
He needs to continue those numbers to help Detroit advance throughout the playoffs.
Texas Rangers: Ian Kinsler
Ian Kinsler has eight home runs so far this month. That’s only three short of the 2001 club record set by Alex Rodriguez.
Kinsler has been playing really well this season. He isn’t the generic leadoff hitter you normally see. He’s more of a power hitter than most leadoff guys and that is a big key to the Rangers’ roster success.
As Texas hangs onto their AL West lead, Kinsler needs to keep doing what he’s doing.
Philadelphia Phillies: Ryan Howard
The Philadelphia Phillies put a lot of trust into Ryan Howard. He always puts up good numbers throughout the season.
The important thing for Howard is that he is able to show up in the postseason. He’s the offensive spark for the Phillies. He will need to lead them into the playoffs with multiple strong outings for them to get to the World Series.
Milwaukee Brewers: Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun ranks among the top hitters in the MLB this season. Whether it’s a hit, stolen base, or home run that is needed, there’s a good chance Braun will be able to do something big.
He’s one of the top candidates for the National League MVP, along with teammate Prince Fielder. Both players are extremely important for Milwaukee to continue their success but Braun ranks a bit higher in overall impact.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton
Justin Upton has been among the names thrown in the mix for the National League MVP. He’s batting .292 with 30 home runs this year and has been a huge part in the Diamondbacks success this season.
As Arizona works to keep control of the National League West, Upton will be an important factor in just how far they go.
Atlanta Braves: Brian McCann
The six-time Silver Slugger has been to the All-Star game every season since 2006. The honors have been well deserved and Brian McCann will be a huge factor as Atlanta tries to secure the NL Wild Card.
The Braves will need to also rely on their younger players like Freddie Freeman. McCann is the most important hitter, though, in that lineup.