While stars get attention, unknowns often shine in October
Big Papi, Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper are just a few of the big-name offensive stars leading their teams into the postseason.
There’s Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki and Edwin Encarnacion on Toronto alone. Adrian Beltre, Carlos Beltran, Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Utley are some of the other recognizable names.
Often, guys like Craig Counsell, Adam Kennedy, Cody Ross, David Freese and Marco Scutaro emerge as October heroes.
Counsell (2001 Diamondbacks), Kennedy (2002 Angels), Ross (2010 Giants), Freese (2011 Cardinals) and Scutaro (2012 Giants) each were MVPs of the league championship series. All of their teams went on to win the World Series. Only Freese and Scutaro ever made it to an All-Star game — once each.
Here’s a Pick 6 of lesser-known players who could shine when the bright lights are on this month:
TREA TURNER: Only Daniel Murphy had a higher batting average for the Nationals than their rookie centerfielder. Turner hit .342 with 13 homers, 40 RBIs and 33 stolen bases after coming up from the minors to stay in July. While Harper, the 2015 NL MVP, slumped and Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth had down years, Turner was a big addition for the NL East champions.
YASMANI GRANDAL: He may have been the best bargain on baseball’s highest-priced roster. The Dodgers paid Grandal $693,000, or less than 1 percent of their $227 million payroll. The switch-hitting catcher tied Justin Turner for the team lead with 27 homers and had 72 RBIs in only 390 at-bats.
BEN ZOBRIST: It’s easy to overlook Zobrist on a Cubs team that includes Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Jason Heyward. But Zobrist was an All-Star second baseman, started 29 games in the outfield and usually hit cleanup behind Bryant and Rizzo in Joe Maddon’s lineup. He finished with a .272 average, 18 homers, 72 RBIs and team-high 96 walks.
XANDER BOGAERTS: While eyes are on David Ortiz and his farewell ride, Bogaerts has emerged as a star on a team filled with outstanding players. Bogaerts hit .294 with 21 homers and 89 RBIs. He already got a taste of the postseason in 2013 when Boston won the World Series, hitting .296 in 12 games.
ROUGNED ODOR: He’s known more for delivering a hard right fist to Bautista’s jaw, but Odor led the Rangers with 33 homers. The second baseman hit .271 and drove in 88 runs.
JOSE RAMIREZ: He started at three infield spots and left field and led Indians with a .312 batting average. Ramirez, the starting third baseman, also had 46 doubles, 76 RBIs and stole 22 bases.
BONUS PICK: Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis is the unsung hero in a lineup filled with sluggers — six players had at least 20 homers. Travis led the team in hitting (.300) and solidified the leadoff spot down the stretch.
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