There is an abundance of players with World Series experience still left in the Major League Baseball postseason.
The Boston Red Sox, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers are three of the last four Fall Classic champions. They also make up three of the last four runners-up. The Dodgers fell short to the Red Sox and Astros in 2017 and 2018 before they won in 2020.
Atlanta is the only franchise without a ton of World Series experience on its roster. The NL East champion is one win away from its first Fall Classic berth since 1999.
If Atlanta holds off the Dodgers in the NLCS, it will need its veteran players to shoulder the pressure, as they have in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Houston can become the first team to secure a World Series berth on Friday. The Astros hold a 3-2 lead over Boston. Atlanta's second chance to win the NLCS comes on Saturday at Truist Park.
World Series Schedule
Game 1: Tuesday, October 26 (Fox)
Game 2: Wednesday, October 27 (Fox)
Game 3: Friday, October 29 (Fox)
Game 4: Saturday, October 30 (Fox)
Game 5: Sunday, October 31 (Fox)
Game 6: Tuesday, November 2 (Fox)
Game 7: Wednesday, November 3 (Fox)
Players Who Will Decide MLB Championship
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta
An argument can be made that Freddie Freeman is the most important player on any of the four LCS rosters.
The five-time All-Star and reigning NL MVP won Atlanta's NLDS series against the Milwaukee Brewers with a home run off Josh Hader.
Freeman has six hits in the last three NLCS games. He started off the series in an 0-of-8 slump with seven strikeouts.
Eddie Rosario, Joc Pederson and others have come up with clutch hits for Atlanta, but Freeman is the superstar of the lineup, and he can flip the complexion of a series with one swing of his bat.
Atlanta is 5-2 in the seven postseason games in which Freeman produced a home run. That record includes NLDS Game 4 and NLCS Game 4. He homered in Thursday's NLCS Game 5 to give Atlanta a two-run lead before the Dodgers exploded for 11 runs.
Freeman produced more home runs, doubles and a better OPS on the road in 2021 than he did inside his home ballpark.
Those numbers are important since Atlanta would open the World Series on the road if they win one of the next two NLCS games. Boston and Houston both finished with a better regular-season record.
As long as Freeman avoids another brutal slump to start a series, he will be a vital player for Atlanta in its attempt to win games on the road to start the World Series if it gets there.
Carlos Correa, SS, Houston
A handful of Houston players could be considered to be the team's most important hitter.
Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman were vital to Houston's 2017 World Series triumph. Correa was second on the team in hits behind George Springer.
The Houston shortstop owns a .875 postseason OPS and 75 playoff hits. He has four multi-hit games in the 2021 postseason.
The Astros have won each of the four games in which Correa produced two or more hits this postseason. The latest occurrence of that was the series-changing ALCS Game 4 in which they used seven ninth-inning runs to break the game open.
Correa hit safely in five of the seven games against the Washington Nationals in the 2019 World Series, and he had pair of three-hit performances versus the Dodgers in 2017.
Correa could have a more important bat in the World Series for Houston since he bats in the middle of the lineup.
Altuve is important because he can reach base early and often, but most times, he is not the one delivering a big two-or-three run hit.
Correa proved he could deliver in clutch situations throughout the regular season. He had a .915 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position. He earned 10 walks, seven doubles and four home runs in those situations in the regular season.
If Correa comes up with a few more clutch hits this postseason, Houston will have a strong chance of winning its second World Series in five years.
Statistics obtained from Baseball Reference.