World Series 2011: Each Team's Most Important Player for Game 6
The 107th World Series has reached a critical mass. As the Cardinals and Rangers gear up for Game 6, a title is now in reach for Texas, and the season's life is in the balance for St. Louis.
In this game, heroes of the fall will be cemented for 2011, or perhaps new heroes that have been dormant thus far in the Series will come forward with clutch performances at the best of times, and on the biggest of baseball stages.
Here now is each club's most important player to watch in Game 6.
Texas Rangers: Josh Hamilton
Josh Hamilton, the superstar outfielder for the Rangers, the 2010 American League MVP and the heart and soul of this Texas club, has been hurt and slumping so far in the World Series.
Through the first five games, Hamilton is hitting a meager .158 and is without a home run.
But Hamilton may just give us a Kirk Gibson moment to watch for. He's now had an extra day's rest with the rain-out of Game 6 on Wednesday and says that he's made some adjustments and had some treatment on his strained groin, which could make the difference in Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7.
Hamilton has already shown the baseball world what he's capable of, and come Game 6, he's the man to watch for Texas.
He's also the most important player for either team in Game 6. Hamilton is by far the most talented position player on his team, and his leadership both on and off the field is crucial to a Texas title.
While others like Michael Young, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli have led the way for the Rangers thus far in the World Series, now that Texas is on the brink of its first-ever title, Hamilton is needed more than ever to push the Rangers over the top.
St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Holliday
Albert Pujols turned in a performance for the ages in Game 3, going 5-for-6 with three home runs and six RBI.
But the Rangers wised up and began pitching around Pujols virtually every time he came to the plate after that, even walking him intentionally with the bases empty in Game 4.
The problem for the Cardinals since then has been that the man behind him, Matt Holliday, hasn't made Texas pay for issuing all of those free passes to Pujols. Holliday is hitting just .167 in the World Series.
The best example of this was in the Game 4 situation when Pujols was intentionally walked with no one on and one out, and Holliday promptly grounded into an inning-ending double play.
The Rangers will not allow Pujols to beat them, and the task of counterbalancing the opponent's strategy and making Texas pay will fall squarely on Holliday's shoulders.
If Holliday cannot produce when Pujols is pitched around, the St. Louis offense will struggle. Starting pitcher Jaime Garcia could pitch a gem and still wind up in the position he was in during Game 2, with a no-decision despite seven shutout innings, as the Cardinals could only muster one run on the night.
Matt Holliday is the most important man for the Cardinals in Game 6 when their season, and hopes for a world championship, are on the line.