Players find themselves under a microscope in the postseason. Every pitch, every at-bat, every ball in the field is scrutinized.
Players can have an All-Star regular season and post MVP-like numbers. But if they fail to produce in October, they won't live it down—just ask Alex Rodriguez.
Playoff performances are valued heavily. If a player proves he can handle the immense pressure of the postseason, he'll likely earn some more money in his next contract.
Contrarily, players who choke under the spotlight could make suitors more hesitant.
Here are five upcoming free agents who cost themselves some money in the 2011 playoffs.
Despite his underwhelming postseason, C.J. Wilson will still sign a lucrative contract in a few weeks—the rest of the market's options at starting pitcher are that bad.
However, many fans and analysts have questioned how much Wilson will actually deserve that contract, and his postseason performance just adds more question marks.
Wilson hasn't had one ace-like start all postseason. In fact, he's pitched more like a No. 3 or worse.
In Game 1 of the ALDS, the Tampa Bay Rays charged Wilson with six earned runs in five innings. The southpaw fanned six but also allowed three home runs.
In two ALCS starts against the Detroit Tigers, Wilson pitched 10.2 innings and allowed eight runs on 14 hits, seven walks and three home runs.
Two nights ago, Wilson opened the World Series, allowing three runs and walking six batters in 5.2 innings.
Teams desperate for starting pitching will still throw bundles of cash at Wilson, but they may be more wary of blindly bidding for the southpaw.
Johnny Damon will turn 38 in two weeks and hasn't made a decision on the 2012 season yet.
If he opts against retirement, though, Damon certainly could have benefited from a more productive postseason.
Baseball folk remember Damon for his grand slam in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS and his importance to the 2009 Yankees' postseason run, so seeing him falter in the 2011 playoffs had to be somewhat disconcerting for evaluators.
Damon went 4-for-17 without a walk in the ALDS.
It appears the New York Yankees will exercise their 2012 option on Nick Swisher.
If the front office changes its mind, though, Swisher's postseason certainly did not help his resume. The Yankee right fielder went 4-for-19 with five strikeouts in the ALDS.
Swisher has assembled just two productive postseason series in his career—the ALDS in 2005 and 2010. Otherwise, he's been somewhat of a choke artist, hitting just .137 in 102 other postseason at-bats.
At 39 years old, Raul Ibanez may decide to retire. If he doesn't, his postseason might have cost him some cash.
Ibanez hit just .245 in the regular season, so a clutch postseason performance could have proven he deserved another contract.
Instead, Ibanez hit .200 in Philadelphia's ALDS loss to St. Louis. In his defense, Ibanez homered and drove in four runs.
He is 39, and a .200 playoff average certainly didn't make him look any younger.
Until Daniel Bard's late-season meltdown, many speculated Boston would not re-sign Jonathan Papelbon, moving Bard into the closing role.
While that is still a possibility this offseason, it is more likely that Boston re-signs their closer of six years.
For that reason, Papelbon needed October. Papelbon hasn't been nearly as effective the past two seasons, so a dominant postseason performance could have been used as a bargaining chip in contract talks.
Now, instead, he has the blown save and loss from Game No. 162 looming over him this offseason.