2017 MLB Postseason MVP Rankings: Who Are Biggest October Stars Entering LCS?
The MLB Wild Card Games and Division Series are over, and four teams are left vying to be crowned the 2017 World Series champion.
Each postseason gives us memorable individual performances as players perform at their best under the bright lights.
We've put together a ranking of the five biggest October stars so far.
The only caveat was that players had to come from a team that is still alive in the postseason, so guys like Stephen Strasburg and Rafael Devers settled for honorable mentions.
Standouts from Eliminated Teams
The pitching that was such a major strength for the Arizona Diamondbacks during the regular season proved to be their undoing in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS.
Shortstop Ketel Marte went 3-for-5 with two triples in the NL Wild Card Game and finished up his first trip to the postseason at 7-for-17, adding a home run off Clayton Kershaw in Game 1. He'll be a popular breakout pick heading into 2018 after a strong finish to the regular season as well.
Fans in Arizona won't soon forget the two-run triple off the bat of reliever Archie Bradley in the Wild Card Game, so he deserves a mention here too.
Boston Red Sox
Rookie third baseman Rafael Devers was 4-for-11 with two home runs and five RBI in his first taste of postseason action, while Hanley Ramirez was 8-for-14 with two doubles after not getting the start in Game 1 of the ALDS.
Fellow rookie Andrew Benintendi hit a big two-run homer off Justin Verlander in the fifth inning of Game 4 to briefly gave the Boston Red Sox a 3-2 lead.
The starting pitchers struggled mightily, but David Price kept things interesting with 6.2 scoreless innings in a pair of relief appearances.
The Cleveland Indians were viewed by many—myself included—as the favorites to win it all heading into the playoffs.
The upstart New York Yankees ensured that didn't happen.
Jay Bruce swung the biggest stick, going 5-for-18 with one double and two home runs as he continued to make his case for a big free-agent contract.
Meanwhile, it was Trevor Bauer who turned in the best start of anyone in the vaunted rotation, allowing just two hits while striking out eight in 6.2 scoreless innings in Game 1 of the ALDS. He didn't make it out of the second inning in Game 4, though.
Catcher Jonathan Lucroy was 2-for-3 with two doubles in the Wild Card Game, while both Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado went deep.
Lefty Chris Rusin also provided 2.1 innings of scoreless relief after starter Jon Gray lasted just 1.1 innings, which was nothing new for a guy who posted a 2.65 ERA over 85 innings of relief work during the regular season.
Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario both homered in the first inning of an unbelievable AL Wild Card Game, briefly giving the Twins a 3-0 lead.
However, the Yankees bullpen clamped down from there, allowing just five hits and one run while striking out 13 over the final 8.2 innings.
If we're naming an LDS MVP, it's probably Stephen Strasburg.
Stepping into the role of Game 1 and Game 4 starter with Max Scherzer hobbled, he dominated the Chicago Cubs lineup over 14 innings of work, striking out 22 and allowing just six hits and two runs—both unearned.
Center fielder Michael A. Taylor also deserves a mention, as he hit the decisive grand slam in Game 4 of the NLDS and finished the series 5-for-15 with two homers and an LDS-high eight RBI.
Honorable Mention: The Bullpens
In a postseason that's seen more than a few early exits from marquee starting pitchers, the bullpens of the remaining teams deserve a quick mention.
Kenley Jansen converted both of his save chances in the Dodgers' three-game sweep of the D-backs, allowing two hits and one unearned run in 3.2 innings of work. Setup man Brandon Morrow also worked 3.2 innings and recorded a pair of holds.
Despite allowing an inside-the-park home run to Rafael Devers, Astros closer Ken Giles managed to convert his only save chance in the decisive Game 4 of the ALDS. Starters Justin Verlander and Lance McCullers were both asked to chip in out of the bullpen in that series as well.
While Carl Edwards Jr. has had a rough go of it for the Cubs, closer Wade Davis nailed down three saves in the NLDS, including a seven-out, 44-pitch performance to slam the door in Game 5 against the Nationals on Thursday night.
Finally, there's the Yankees bullpen, which worked a whopping 28.2 innings in five games against the Indians, allowing just 15 hits and seven earned runs while striking out 42. Aroldis Chapman had a pair of saves, including the final six outs of Game 5.
5. 3B Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers
Stats: 3 G, 6-for-13, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
A three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks didn't give anyone on the Dodgers much time to build a strong case, but third baseman Justin Turner has the best resume.
The 32-year-old proved to be worth every penny of his four-year, $64 million extension during the regular season, as he hit .322 with a .945 OPS and 5.7 WAR while earning his first trip to the All-Star Game.
He had a huge Game 1 of the NLDS, going 3-for-4 with a home run and five RBI in a 9-5 victory. He went on to tally three more hits in the final two games of the series.
Batting in the No. 3 spot in the Dodgers lineup, sandwiched comfortably between Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger, he should have plenty of chances to play the hero this October.
For now, he's the best individual performer on a Dodgers team that made short work of the Division Series.
4. 1B Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
Stats: 5 G, 4-for-20, 1 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 1 R
The Cubs only scored 17 runs in five games against the Nationals in the NLDS.
Anthony Rizzo drove in six of them.
"I want to make guys pay," he told reporters. "I hit where I hit in the order. I drive in runs, and that's just the mentality that I always take in."
His blooper to left center field in the ninth inning of Game 3 wasn't a majestic shot by any stretch of the imagination, but it brought in what proved to be the game-winning run in a 2-1 victory.
That effectively swung the momentum back in the Cubs' favor after a tough loss in Game 2.
After hitting just .225 with five RBI in 10 games through the first two rounds of the playoffs last season, he's made a much bigger impact already hitting out of the No. 3 spot in the lineup.
3. SP Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees
Stats: 1 GS, W, 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
As his team faced elimination in Game 3 of the ALDS, Masahiro Tanaka took the ball and turned in his most important start in a Yankees jersey.
"He was brilliant," manager Joe Girardi told reporters after the game.
Indeed he was, allowing three hits over seven scoreless innings and needing every bit of that dominance in what wound up being a 1-0 victory.
That stellar outing came after a rather inauspicious September that included a pair of starts in which he allowed seven earned runs.
Tanaka's performance earned him the Game 1 start against the Houston Astros in the ALCS.
He faced them once during the regular season on May 14, allowing seven hits and eight earned runs in 1.2 innings, so he has a few more demons to exorcise as he looks to keep things rolling in October.
2. SS Didi Gregorius, New York Yankees
Stats: 6 G, 5-for-20, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R, 7 BB
Didi Gregorius might be hitting just .250 this postseason, but he's reached base 12 times in 27 plate appearances, and he provided all the offense the Yankees needed in the decisive Game 5 of the ALDS.
The 27-year-old slugged a career-high 25 home runs during the regular season, moving into the cleanup spot in the lineup down the stretch as one of the team's most consistent run producers.
He hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the first in the Wild Card Game, countering a three-run top of the inning from the Twins in the process.
Then he went deep twice off potential AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber in the must-win game of the ALDS, driving in three to give the Yankees an early lead in their eventual 5-2 victory.
"Didi's at-bats have been great all year," Girardi told reporters. "He drove in almost 90 runs and missed a month of the season. It's pretty remarkable, the season that he's had for us."
He was my pre-postseason pick to be the dark-horse hero for the Yankees in October, and he's delivered.
1. 2B Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
Stats: 4 G, 8-for-15, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 5 R, 4 BB
It's only been four games, but Jose Altuve has made an indelible impression on the 2017 postseason.
The diminutive second baseman became just the ninth player in MLB history to record a three-homer game in the postseason when he took the Boston Red Sox deep three times in Game 1 of the ALDS.
The rest of that list, per David Adler of MLB.com:
- Pablo Sandoval
- Albert Pujols
- Adrian Beltre
- Adam Kennedy
- George Brett
- Reggie Jackson
- Bob Robertson
- Babe Ruth (twice)
Kennedy probably takes the prize for least likely to be included, as he recorded his trio after a seven-homer regular season over 509 plate appearances and hitting out of the No. 9 spot in the then-Anaheim Angels lineup.
Still, Altuve is hungry for more.
"The five-whatever I hit last series is already gone," he told reporters. "It doesn't count for this series. So if someone asks me, 'What is your batting average right now?' I would say, 'It's zero.' I haven't got a hit in the next series, so that's the way I think right now."
He has as good a foundation as anyone to be the standout performer of the 2017 postseason and will look to keep swinging a hot bat against the Yankees in the ALCS.