MLB Playoffs 2011: Ryan Howard and 3 Sluggers That Must Carry Their Teams

Michael DixonAnalyst IIISeptember 29, 2011

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 24:  Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies hits a RBI single to center field in the seventh inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on September 24, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Hitting well in the playoffs isn't necessarily driven by numbers. You can have a batting average of well below .250, but if you hit in the right spots, you can be a hero.

On the other end, you can have an average well above .300, but you need to come through in the right spots for that to have any impact.

Pitching tends to be extremely strong in the playoffs. So, teams need to take advantage of whatever opportunities they are given if they are to have any chance at winning.

But a good power hitter can create a good scoring opportunity with nobody on base.

If their teams are going to win the World Series, these hitters need to create opportunities and take advantage of the ones that their teammates create.

Alex Rodriguez

Men will be on base for him. The Yankees have too much offense to think that they will really be kept in check.

But when those guys get on base, they will need someone to drive them in. While the Yankees have plenty of other hitters (Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira), the man who will be looked at closest is Alex Rodriguez.

Outside of C.C. Sabathia, the Yankees will have a hard time pitching with most of the playoff rivals.

If Alex Rodriguez brings his bat, it will go a long way in offsetting that advantage.

Ryan Howard

Ryan Howard just didn't deliver for the Phillies in 2010. In a six-game series, the Phillies lineup went from one of the best in the league to looking very old.

The Phillies can pitch with anyone, but they need to hit. When they lost the NLCS last year, Howard didn't drive in a single run.

The pitching was fine then, they just couldn't get the clutch hits.

With the pitching rotation they assembled, a World Series championship is the only acceptable result in Philadelphia. If that's going to happen, Howard needs to be productive.

Josh Hamilton

The Rangers lost the World Series last year. It makes sense that their only real goal would be to take the next step this year.

The problem is that they don't have Cliff Lee anymore. With Lee, they were outpitched in the World Series. Without him, their chances of improving wouldn't appear to be great.

But the Rangers offense is still good. They can make up for the loss of Lee. Texas will need offensive production. That starts with their best hitter, Josh Hamilton.

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