2011 MLB Playoffs: 10 Best Bats Still Playing
With the American League Championship Series under way and the National League's edition starting up next week, some of the best-hitting teams in the league are squaring off against each other.
So I thought I'd look at 10 players who are likely to make an impact on the batting side of things.
Three things are looked at in this: traditional performance, 2011 regular season performance and 2011 division series performance.
See also 10 Best Bats Sent Packing.
10. Skip Schumaker, Cardinals
Schumaker eeks into the top 10 largely based upon his NLDS performance, when he was perhaps one of the best situation hitters throughout the entire playoffs.
In just 10 at bats, Schumaker collected six hits, eight total bags, three RBI, all the while posting a whopping 1.400 OPS.
9. Delmon Young, Tigers
The second and final player who forced himself into this list by virtue of his performance in the division series.
Delmon Young didn't enjoy the most spectacular regular season, starting with Minnesota before switching mid-season to Detroit. He only batted .268 during the regular season, but made his hits count in the playoffs. In the 2011 ALCS, he had three home runs, 15 total bases, a 1.17 OPS, and scored four times.
Reports have surfaced that Young will miss the ALCS due to injury (ESPN), however.
8. Michael Young, Rangers
The Rangers' designated hitter and all-around utility man had the third-highest batting average of anybody in the Major Leagues this season, and also drove in over 100 runs.
Though his performance in the ALDS was less than stellar, his career .305 playoff average, and his impressive 2011 regular season are good enough to earn him a spot on this list.
7. Lance Berkman, Cardinals
Are 35-year-old cat with a mullet that screams for the '80s making a comeback?
Apparantly so. This season, Berkman batted .301 with 31 homers, 94 RBI and a .950 OPS. In the NLDS, he drove in four and accrued seven total bases.
Berkman also has a career .300 BA and .960 OPS in October, solid numbers over a 39-game playoff career.
6. Ian Kinsler, Rangers
People had wondered whether Kinsler would rebound after a lackluster 2010 season.
He did just that, becoming one of the best and most underrated second baseman in the league. Kinsler is one of the best on the base path, using his savvy to manage situations well.
After a 30-30 season where he had 70 extra-base hits and 121 runs, Kinsler followed it up with a home run, nine total bags, and a .931 OPS in the ALCS.
5. Prince Fielder, Brewers
The big bat with the big butt, Prince Fielder lives large at No. 5 on this list.
In the NLDS against Arizona, he had 10 total bags, including a home run and a .937 OPS.
During the regular season, he posted 38 dingers, 322 total bases, 120 RBI, 32 intentional walks, and a .981 OPS. Not too bad for a man due for free agency.
4. Albert Pujols, Cardinals
Albert Pujols clocks in at No. 4 because when he's at 100 percent, he's far and away the best pure hitter in the majors, and one of the greatest to ever play the game.
Though this was a bit of an off-year for the Machine (failed to make .300 batting average, 1.000 OPS, .400 OBP, or 100 RBIs for the first time in years), Pujols made his presence known in the postseason, notching ten total bases in the NLDS.
3. Adrian Beltre, Rangers
Beltre is one of the hottest players doing into the ALCS.
His performance against Tampa Bay included a three home-run game, one of only seven all-time in postseason play.
He also had 13 total bases and a 1.179 OPS for the series. Coupled with a 2011 regular season that was one of the best by a third baseman—Beltre hit 32 home runs, 105 RBI, and a 5.2 WAR (Wins Above Replacement).
Beltre is one of only a few players in this year's playoffs to have both a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger.
2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
1. Ryan Braun, Brewers
That is, unless Braun has something to say about it.
The Milwaukee Brewers slugger was second in the NL in batting average and WAR this season, and led the league in extra-base hits, slugging percentage and OPS. He was fourth in the major leagues in total bases.
Braun also had a solid NLDS, hitting 9 for 18 with 16 total bases, a home run, four RBI, and a 1.460 WHIP.
That performance is why the likely No. 1 or No. 2 in NL MVP Voting tops my list of Championship Series bats.