Bleacher Report's 2016 Mid-MLB Postseason All-Star Team
We've reached the midpoint of the 2016 MLB playoffs, which means it's time to name our mid-postseason All-Star team.
Seriously, it's a thing. Look it up.
Yes, the sample size is minuscule. But that's the point of October baseball. Every hit is magnified. Every strong pitching performance is elevated to greatness.
For our purposes, we're considering all players who have participated in the postseason—and we're weighing only 2016 postseason stats. Past performance and pedigree won't help here.
However, playing in more games imparts an obvious advantage, meaning guys on the four surviving clubs—the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Cleveland Indians and Toronto Blue Jays—are generously represented.
Also, the goal is to build an actual, viable 25-man roster, so some players made the cut based on position as much as statistical merit.
Kris Bryant (CHC): 8-for-24, 4 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
Conor Gillaspie (SFG): 8-for-19, 3B, HR, 6 RBI, 3 R
Adrian Gonzalez (LAD): 7-for-27, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R
Andrew Benintendi (BOS): 3-for-9, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, R
Ezequiel Carrera (TOR): 8-for-26, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, 5 R
Buster Posey (SFG): 5-for-18, 2B, 2 RBI, R
A starter under most circumstances, Kris Bryant gets edged out by the even-more impressive numbers of another third baseman (more on that shortly).
The same goes for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, whose home run in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Sunday proved to be the difference in a 1-0 Dodgers win.
Rookie Andrew Benintendi warrants mention despite the Boston Red Sox's early exit, while Ezequiel Carrera has been an unexpected standout for the Jays.
Speaking of unexpected, the San Francisco Giants got a boost from wayward former prospect Conor Gillaspie, who delivered a decisive three-run homer in the NL Wild Card Game and also mustered a two-RBI triple in the Giants' lone division series win over the Cubs.
A more expected Giant, one-time NL MVP and three-time champion Buster Posey, earns a nod among a relatively weak catching field.
Willson Contreras (CHC): 5-for-9, 2 RBI, R
He's made just two starts behind the dish for the Cubs, but Willson Contreras stands out with a .556 average and 1.156 OPS.
The 24-year-old rookie is playing in his first postseason, though you wouldn't know it by his numbers or his attitude.
"I just play my game and do what I can do best," he said, per Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "This is just one more game. Have fun. You can't make mental mistakes. If you start thinking it's a big game, you're going to put pressure on yourself. That’s not going to happen to me."
1B: Edwin Encarnacion (TOR): 8-for-27, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R
2B: Javier Baez (CHC): 9-for-23, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 5 R
3B: Josh Donaldson (TOR): 13-for-29, 6 2B, 4 RBI, 5 R
SS: Francisco Lindor (CLE): 7-for-23, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
Edwin Encarnacion kicked off the 2016 playoffs with a walk-off three-run homer in the AL Wild Card Game against the Baltimore Orioles, and he didn't stop there.
Toronto is on the ropes after falling behind 3-0 to the Indians in the American League Championship Series, but Encarnacion—a pending free agent—has unquestionably boosted his stock.
Speaking of the Jays, third baseman Josh Donaldson leads all postseason swingers in hits and doubles.
Javier Baez is throwing himself a superstar coming-out party. The gifted (and GIF-ted) 23-year-old is carrying a Cubs offense that's been dragged down by slumps from key contributors such as first baseman Anthony Rizzo, and his dazzling defense is testing the speed of DVR skip-back buttons from Manhattan to Maui.
Finally, there's Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor, who does it with the lumber and the leather and has Cleveland on the brink of its first Fall Classic appearance since 1997.
LF: Jayson Werth (WSH): 7-for-18, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 4 R
CF: Joc Pederson (LAD): 6-for-22, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R
RF: Lonnie Chisenhall (CLE): 7-for-20, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R
Jayson Werth helped atone for the loss of All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos and kept the Washington Nationals competitive in their hard-fought 3-2 division series loss to the Dodgers.
Joc Pederson has been a boon for L.A. with his imposing power stroke, which is unsurprising after he raised his OPS nearly 100 points in the second half.
The nominee for random role player who goes nuts in October, however, is Lonnie Chisenhall.
A nondescript 28-year-old in his sixth MLB season, Chisenhall has been an offensive anchor for the Indians in their thus-far undefeated postseason run.
He even inspired Matt R. Lyons of Let's Go Tribe to toss out "Chisentober." It might not stick. But you aren't scoffing, which says it all.
RHP Corey Kluber (CLE): 2-0, 13.1 IP, 9 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 13 SO
LHP Clayton Kershaw (LAD): 2-0, 19.1 IP, 17 H, 8 ER, 4 BB, 25 SO
LHP Jon Lester (CHC): 1-0, 14 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 SO
RHP Johnny Cueto (SFG): 0-1, 8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO
RHP Marco Estrada (TOR): 1-1, 16.1 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 12 SO
Corey Kluber is the ostensible ace with his 13.1 scoreless innings. Clayton Kershaw, however, has been the epitome of playoff baseball: not always perfect, but constantly compelling.
Kershaw's 25 strikeouts are nearly twice as many as any other postseason pitcher. And while he's wobbled in stretches, he's also been iconic, particularly in getting the two outs he recorded out of the bullpen to finish Game 5 of the NLDS against Washington.
The Cubs have won both of Jon Lester's starts, in Game 1 of the NLDS against San Francisco and Game 1 of the NLCS against Los Angeles.
Speaking of San Francisco, one of the biggest shames of the Giants' Game 4 meltdown against Chicago was that Johnny Cueto was denied a Game 5 start.
The delivery-mixing, dreadlocked right-hander befuddled a potent Cubs lineup in his lone playoff outing, with a Baez solo homer serving as the only blemish on his record.
The fifth spot could go to a number of arms, but we'll hand it to Jays changeup artist Marco Estrada, who has held opposing hitters to a .185 average, the best of any pitcher mentioned here besides Cueto (.111).
LHP Andrew Miller (CLE): 9 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 20 SO, 1 SV
RHP Cody Allen (CLE): 6.2 IP, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 SO, 4 SV
LHP Aroldis Chapman (CHC): 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 SO, 3 SV
RHP Roberto Osuna (TOR): 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 SO, 1 SV
RHP Mark Melancon (WSH): 4.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 SO, 1 SV
RHP Pedro Baez (LAD): 5.2 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 SO
It begins and ends with Andrew Miller, who drew an entirely plausible (sorry Yankees fans) comparison to Mariano Rivera in his prime from Bleacher Report's Zachary D. Rymer.
Miller has been that good for Cleveland after coming over in a deadline deal with the Yanks, racking up strikeouts like points on a postseason pinball machine and making opposing hitters look feckless with his wipeout slider.
Indians closer Cody Allen earns a slot as well for being the Tango to Miller's Cash.
Cubs closer Aroldis Chapman, another 2016 Yankees trade chip, has shown moments of vulnerability but has balanced the ledger with his nearly untouchable triple-digit heater.
Roberto Osuna, the Jays' 21-year-old phenom, has cast aside a sore shoulder that knocked him out of the AL Wild Card Game against Baltimore and delivered seven scoreless playoff frames.
Mark Melancon did everything the Nationals hoped he would do when they acquired him from the Pittsburgh Pirates at the deadline, and the 31-year-old right-hander will cash in this winter.
As with the rotation, the final pen slot could have gone to a number of arms. But we'll award it to deliberate Dodgers righty Pedro Baez, who has tossed some pivotal (if painfully ponderous) innings for L.A. and kept its thin rotation intact.
All statistics current as of Monday and courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.