MLB Metrics 101: Updated Postseason MVP Rankings on Eve of World Series
The Los Angeles Dodgers punched their World Series ticket Thursday with an 11-1 win over the Chicago Cubs. The New York Yankees can do the same with a win Friday against the Houston Astros, or the 'stros can force a decisive Game 7.
No matter what, we are on the doorstep of the World Series.
With that in mind, let's check in with another installment of B/R's MLB Metrics 101 series and update the postseason MVP leaderboard.
To be clear, we are looking for MVP candidates from the playoffs as a whole, which means we're zeroing in on the three teams left in the dance as of Thursday: the Dodgers, Astros and Yankees.
Small-sample caveats apply, but that's what October is all about.
No. 5: Justin Verlander, RHP, Houston Astros
2017 Postseason Stats: 3-0, 2.04 ERA, 17.2 IP, 16 SO
A waiver trade deadline pickup by the Astros, Justin Verlander has been nails in the playoffs.
Pitching wins are an outmoded stat, but Verlander's 3-0 playoff record leaps out. The 2011 American League Cy Young Award and MVP winner has been a steadying force for Houston.
Now, he can help the Astros stave off elimination.
"This is obviously the biggest game for the Astros up to this point for this season," Verlander said of Friday's pivotal Game 6, per the New York Daily News' Kristie Ackert. "The expectations are there. My teammates, I'm sure, are expecting a lot of me. And I expect a lot of myself."
No. 4: Masahiro Tanaka, RHP, New York Yankees
2017 Postseason Stats: 2-1, 0.90 ERA, 20 IP, 18 SO
After a wobbly regular season, which left him on the fringe of the Yankees rotation, Masahiro Tanaka has emerged like a butterfly from a chrysalis.
Through 20 postseason frames, the Japanese right-hander has yielded a scant two runs while holding opponents to a .145 average.
Todd Frazier—the Yanks third baseman and trade deadline pickup—recently summarized Tanaka's rebirth.
"He's been doing it all postseason," Frazier said, per CBSSports.com's Mike Axisa. "Dominant. Just dominant. The ball just disappears on batters. I couldn't be more happy for him. He's a great guy on and off the field. Just what a performance. Gutsy."
No. 3: Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros
2017 Postseason Stats: .394 AVG., 1.167 OPS, 3 HR, 4 RBI
Jose Altuve is all kinds of fun.
The diminutive second baseman has that quality, that certain je ne sais quoi. You want him to succeed.
And succeed he has, to the tune of 13 hits and three homers in nine games. The nominal front-runner for AL MVP honors, Altuve is restating his case in the playoffs.
"Jose Altuve's the MVP," said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, per Dan Martin of the New York Post. "I'm biased. I love [the Yankees'] Aaron Judge and [the Cleveland Indians'] Jose Ramirez and [the Los Angeles Angels'] Mike Trout and the seasons that those guys had, but Jose was the most consistent player in the big leagues."
No. 2: Yasiel Puig, RF, Los Angeles Dodgers
2017 Postseason Stats: .414 AVG., 1.169 OPS, 1 HR, 6 RBI
A little more than a year ago, yours truly wondered whether Yasiel Puig would don a Dodgers uniform again.
The mercurial Cuban outfielder had been demoted to the minor leagues. His performance on the field and behavior off it were raising red flags.
Now, Puig is the tongue-wagging soul of a Dodgers team that is headed to the World Series for the first time since 1988. He's also hitting above .400 and flashing all the tools that made him a breakout star once upon a time not so long ago.
"He's as focused as I've ever seen him," L.A. skipper Dave Roberts told Jared Wyllys of Sporting News. "We talk about his energy, but we talk about his focus as well."
No. 1: Justin Turner, 3B, Los Angeles Dodgers
2017 Postseason Stats: .387 AVG., 1.177 OPS, 3 HR, 12 RBI
Maybe you dislike Puig's bat-flipping antics or root against the Dodgers because of their big-spending ways. Fine. But it's impossible to root against Justin Turner.
The 32-year-old red-headed hero from Long Beach, California, has been Los Angeles' October anchor, slugging three home runs and tallying a dozen RBI.
He hit a walk-off three-run shot in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series against the Cubs and joined Kirk Gibson in elite franchise company in the process, per ESPN Stats & Info. He took home co-NLCS MVP honors.
Can he keep it going in the Fall Classic? We'll soon find out. Has he been a playoff stud thus far? Undeniably.
"Everyone in here wanted him at the plate in those situations," young slugger Cody Bellinger said of Turner, per AJ Cassavell of MLB.com. "He proved it why."
All statistics current as of Thursday and courtesy of MLB.com.