MLB Playoff Predictions: Ranking The Top 25 Players in the Postseason

Eric Ball@@BigLeagueEballFeatured ColumnistOctober 4, 2010

MLB Playoff Predictions: Ranking The Top 25 Players in the Postseason

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23:  CC Sabathia #52, Derek Jeter #2, Mark Teixeira #25 and Alex Rodriquez #13 of the New York Yankees looks on against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 23, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    The 2010 MLB postseason has finally arrived.

    After 162 games of scratching and clawing through the league, only eight teams remain. Each club has gotten here because of the supreme talent on its team.

    Each team remaining has at least two players that are in the top tier of the league. Expect these 25 players to have the biggest impact in October. Whether it be a key home-run or a huge strikeout, elite players have the potential to etch their name in the history books.

    Here are the best 25 players that are still playing relevant baseball in 2010 (in no particular order).

1. Chase Utley

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    PHILADELPHIA - SEPTEMBER 25: Second baseman Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies singles during a game against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park on September 25, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
    Hunter Martin/Getty Images

    Injuries hampered Utley throughout the season, but he will be entering the postseason healthy. His regular season numbers were modest (.275 average, 65 RBI), but Utley knows when to play his best.

    Utley has plenty of postseason experience and has played exceptionally well. He has seven career World Series homers and set a record for reaching base in 26 consecutive playoff games.

    He has been great in October and the Phillies will once again need his postseason magic in 2010.

2. Ryan Howard

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 2: Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies runs against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on October 2, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Ryan Howard has been feast or famine in the postseason. He set a record for most playoff games with an RBI and won the NLCS MVP award for his part in last season's series against the Rockies.

    But in the World Series he struck out 13 times, setting another record.

    This season Howard was injured for awhile with a sprained ankle and still was able to place fourth in the NL with 108 RBI. He also hit 31 home runs.

3. Jimmy Rollins

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Jimmy Rollins #11 of the Philadelphia Phillies ducks a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on September 1, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Jimmy Rollins has been extremely important at the top of the lineup for the Phillies for a long time. This year he has battled a strained calf injury for most of the season, resulting in a career low .245 batting average.

    He struggled mightily in the playoffs last year as well.

    He put up a .234 average with an OBP of .306 and only three extra base hits in 64 ABs. In the World Series, while his OBP went up to .345, his average dropped to .217.

    Key an eye on Rollins to see if he can change this trend.

4. Roy Halladay

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    WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 27:  Roy Halliday #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches during a baseball game against the Washington Nationals on September 27, 2010 at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.    (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
    Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

    This will be Roy Halladay's first postseason appearance in his 12 MLB seasons.

    He has posted an MLB high 21 wins, while compiling a 2.44 ERA, nine complete games, 219 Ks, 250.2 innings pitched, and a 1.04 WHIP.

    All are in the top three in the NL.

    Will Halladay get rattled in his first postseason appearance? Not likely.

5. Roy Oswalt

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01:  Roy Oswalt #44 of the Philadelphia Phillies reacts to a single from Casey Blake #23 of the Los Angeles Dodgers to end his attempt at a no hitter during the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 1, 2010 in Los Angeles
    Harry How/Getty Images

    The second Roy has been excellent since coming over from the Astros. He has gone 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 12 starts for the Phillies.

    With the Astros he went 4-0 with a 3.66 ERA in postseason play. The two-headed attack of Halladay and Oswalt is going to be extremely tough to beat.

6. Derek Jeter

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    BOSTON - OCTOBER 3:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees watches a called third strike during a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, October 3, 2010, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Jeter has just a little bit of experience in the postseason. 138 games worth to be exact.

    He hit .313 in October and will once again be relied upon to reach base for the Yanks mashers. In last year's title run, Jeter batted .364 while scoring 14 runs. A similar performance is expected this year.

    Jeter has built quite the reputation in October over the years. He will be vital to the Yanks this month.

7. Alex Rodriguez

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    BOSTON - OCTOBER 3:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees singles to knock in a run in the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park October 3, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Another great year by A-Rod. He hit .270 with 30 homers and 125 ribbies.

    We all know about Rodriguez's postseason past. Last year he hit six home runs and 18 RBI in the playoffs.

    So what should we expect from him this year? Choke Rod or clutch Rod? No clue how he will perform in the coming weeks.

8. Robinson Cano

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    BOSTON - OCTOBER 2:  Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees leaves the field after teammate Ivan Nova allowed a hit to Eric Petterson #3 of the Boston Red Sox in the tenth inning, which knocked in the winning run, in the second game of a doubleheader a
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Cano hasn't had much postseason success, hitting a measly .217 in his career.

    But 2010 was a huge season for him, hitting .320 with 29 HR and 108 RBI.

    I expect Cano to deliver more than a few clutch hits in the coming weeks.

9. CC Sabathia

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23:  CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees looks on against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 23, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    CC looks to be one of the top contenders for Cy Young this season. He holds a 21-7 record with a 3.18 ERA and a 197 strikeouts.

    The hefty lefty will be the Game 1 starter for the Yanks. As the only reliable starter, the Yankees need him to have a spectacular postseason run.

10.Mariano Rivera

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    BOSTON - OCTOBER 2:  Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees throws in the tenth inning in the first game of a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, October 2, 2010, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
    Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    Rivera had yet another great season, collecting 33 saves while posting a 0.83 WHIP. He is as rock solid as ever.

    His success in the postseason has been well documented, coming up big in the most important moments (except in '01) and he will be relied upon to shut down any potential Yankees win. His mental toughness is very impressive and the Yanks will be in good hands with a late inning lead.

    Rivera is the ultimate postseason closer.

11. Joey Votto

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    SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Joey Votto #19 of Cincinnati Reds is greeted by third base coach Mark Berry as he rounds the base after hitting a solo home run against the San Diego Padres during the first inning of their MLB game on September 26, 2010 at
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    The probable MVP of the National League, Votto is the heart and soul of the upstart Reds. The Canadian has hit .324 with 37 homers and 113 RBI. He was a triple crown threat for most of the season along with Albert Pujols and Carlos Gonzalez.

    Only the Reds made the playoffs...advantage Votto.

    He ranked fifth or better in NL in average, RBI, walks, slugging percentage, homers, runs scored, OBP, and OPS. A stat geek's dream.

    Nobody knows what to expect from him in the playoffs, but if the Reds think they can beat the Phillies, Votto will be the main contributor.

12. Scott Rolen

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    CINCINNATI - SEPTEMBER 11:  Scott Rolen #27 of the Cincinnati Reds is at bat during the game against the Pittsburg Pirates at Great American Ball Park on September 11, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Rolen has been the veteran presence the Reds so desperately needed. He showed a losing team how to win and the rest of the team bought in. He leads by example and the way he plays the game is inspiring.

    Rolen hit .285 with 20 bombs and 83 RBI this season. He will be a big factor for the Reds in the playoffs.

    For his career, he has only hit .228 in the postseason.

13. Evan Longoria

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    NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 23:  Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a double in the sixth-inning against the New York Yankees  on September 23, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    A solid year for Longoria: .294 average, 22 HR, and 104 RBI.

    He will have to step up his play in the postseason. In the '08 World Series run, he hit .194 while striking out 20 times. He will be counted on for a much better performance than that this October.

14. Carl Crawford

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    ST PETERSBURG, FL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Outfielder Carl Crawford #13 of the Tampa Bay Rays catches a fly ball against the Baltimore Orioles during the game at Tropicana Field on September 27, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    In the last year of his contract, everyone assumed Crawford would put up big numbers. A .307 average, 19 home runs, 90 RBI and 46 stolen bases later, I'd say mission accomplished.

    He has really heated up in September, hitting .376 with a 1.026 OPS. He will cash in big this winter, and having a big October will only increase the size of his wallet even more.

15. David Price

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    BOSTON - SEPTEMBER 07:  David Price #14 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers a pitch in the first inning against the Boston Red Sox on September 7, 2010 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
    Elsa/Getty Images

    A Cy Young candidate, Price has fully blossomed this season as a starter. He compiled a 19-6 record with a 2.72 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.

    He will be the starter for Game 1 in the postseason. After his miraculous performance as a rookie in the '08 season, a lot will be expected of the young Price.

15. Joe Mauer

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    SEATTLE - AUGUST 27:  Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins bats against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on August 27, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. The Twins won 6-3. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Mauer had yet another solid season for the Twins. He hit .327 while collecting 75 RBI. His power numbers were way down (nine) but he hit a career high 42 doubles.

    The heart and soul of the Twins offense, Mauer will be essential to the Twinkies offense. Last year he hit .417 in the three postseason games.

17. Delmon Young

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 10: Delmon Young #21 of the Minnesota Twins takes a swing against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 10, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Twins defeated the White Sox 12-6. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The 25-year-old Young has emerged as one of the best outfielders in the game. He hit .298, crushed 21 homers, and knocked in 112 RBI. He has been the biggest piece of the Twins offense puzzle after Mauer.

    Young needs to have a much better performance in the postseason after last year's choke job. He was only able to get one hit in 12 ABs, while striking out five times. If puts up a similar numbers, then it will be another quick exit for the Twins.

18. Josh Hamilton

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 01:  Left fielder Josh Hamilton #32 of the Texas Rangers makes the fly out against Torii Hunter #48 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 1, 2010 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Mar
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    The lead candidate for the AL MVP, Hamilton has been great this season. He won the batting title with his .360 average. He hit 32 homers and collected 100 RBI. He also continues to be one of the best outfielders in the game. He has a cannon for an arm.

    Hamilton missed most of September after cracking a few ribs after crashing into an outfield wall. He told reporters that he experienced soreness and tightness after playing the last three games of the season.

    The Rangers postseason success hinges on the health of Hamilton. Cross your fingers, Ranger fans.

19. Cliff Lee

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    OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Cliff Lee #33 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 23, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty I
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Lee has bounced around baseball and found himself on another playoff team. He only posted a 4-6 mark and a 3.98 ERA since joining the Rangers, but his WHIP is a terrific 1.06.

    After posting a 4-0 record and 1.56 ERA in last year's postseason, the Rangers had little trouble giving him the ball for Game 1. He needs to pitch like the ace he has been in the past if the Rangers want to have a chance against the Yankees.

    He must give the Rangers a few gems to get his team into the latter part of October.

20. Vladimir Guerrero

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    OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Texas Rangers hits a three run double in the seventh inning against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 24, 2010 in Oakland
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Guerrero has been one of the best players in baseball for the better part of this decade. Now, primarily as a DH, he once again put up big time numbers. His .300 batting average, 29 HRs, and 115 RBI represent just a typical year for Vlad.

    He has been pretty solid in the postseason. He hit .467, and .378 in his last two years in the playoffs. Pairing Vlad with Hamilton will make the meat of the Rangers lineup very dangerous for any opponent.

    Expect the 35-year-old to show his inexperienced team how it's done.

21. Jason Heyward

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 3:  RIght fielder Jason Heyward #22 of the Atlanta Braves runs for a triple during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on October 3, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Braves beat the Phillies 8-7.  (Photo by Mike Zarr
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    The 21-year-old rookie has certainly lived up to the sky high expectations set for him. Heyward hit .277 with 18 home runs and 72 ribbies this season. He was hampered by a wrist injury for a few months, but has been able to play through it.

    Now it's time to see if the rookie can handle the pressures of the postseason. He is going to have to come up big for the Braves to have a chance against the Giants.

22. Tim Hudson

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    ATLANTA - OCTOBER 03:  Pitcher Tim Hudson #15 of the Atlanta Braves throws a pitch during the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on October 3, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Braves beat the Phillies 8-7.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    The veteran righty has been rock solid this season. He compiled a 17-9 record with a 2.83 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He has been the Braves ace and they will need him to continue his success into the playoffs.

    Hudson has been shaky in his starts in the postseason. He has a 3.97 ERA and a 1-3 record. But his last playoff appearance was in '05, so it's been a while for Hudson.

23. Tim Lincecum

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    DENVER - SEPTEMBER 24:  Starting pitcher Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants delivers against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 24, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. Lincecum earned the win as the Giants defeated the Rockies 2-1.  (Photo b
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    It was an up and down season for Lincecum. He struggled for most of July and August before coming on strong in September. He allowed a grand total of nine earned runs in six starts last month. Very impressive.

    For the season he has a 16-10 record with a 3.43 ERA. The two-time Cy Young winner now gets his first taste of the postseason. Expect big time results.

24. Matt Cain

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    SAN FRANCISCO - OCTOBER 01:  Matt Cain #18 and Edgar Renteria #16 of the San Francisco Giants wait for manager Bruce Bochy to come to the mound to take Cain out of their game against the San Diego Padres in the fifth inning at AT&T Park on October 1, 2010
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Cain has been a horse for the Giants all season long. His 13-11 record is very misleading as he has received very little run support. He ranks third in the NL in innings pitched at 222.1, and in complete games with four. He also has an outstanding 1.08 WHIP.

    The Giants starters will be relied upon to carry the weak Giants offense. Good thing they have one of the best staffs in baseball.

25. Brian Wilson

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    PHOENIX - SEPTEMBER 06:  Relief pitcher Brian Wilson #38 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on September 6, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Giants defeated the Diamondba
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Wilson has been stellar in '10. He has 47 saves and has only blown five of them. He has posted a 1.83 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP.

    The Braves and Giants series should feature plenty of close games. Having a top-notch closer like Wilson will pay big dividends for the Giants.