The Major League Baseball postseason always produces superstars. Some of those who emerge are expected, while some are unlikely players who go from anonymity to household name overnight. That can happen thanks to a hot streak at the right time, a dramatic home run, a surprisingly great pitching performance, or some sterling defensive play.
Here is a list of 20 players who have been the standout players so far during the 2017 MLB playoffs.
Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
The potential AL MVP had a great regular season, and that has carried over into the postseason. Altuve, for as well-known and well-respected as he is across baseball, has never really had that signature moment or stretch of performances to really establish himself as a major star. In his only previous playoff series — the 2015 ALDS against Kansas City — he went just 3-for-22.
This year, he promptly opened his postseason with a three-homer game, and he hasn’t looked back since. He hit an astonishing .533 against Boston, and has only slightly cooled in the ALCS, hitting a mere .357. He’s a superstar now, and everyone is taking notice.
Yasiel Puig, OF Dodgers
For much of his career, Puig has been better known for bat flips, off-field antics, and on-field mental errors than for star power on the field. Sure, he has always had spectacular plays in him, but it would be fair to say he had never put it all together. Not anymore.
Puig is having an absolutely dominant postseason, hitting .429 and driving in six runs in Los Angeles’s first six games. It’s too soon to say that he’s found something permanently — Puig has had hot stretches before — but if this keeps up, he’ll evolve into a superstar he once looked destined to become.
CC Sabathia gave the New York Yankees exactly what they needed in Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday.
Sabathia went six scoreless against the Houston Astros, allowing just three hits and four walks while striking out five for the win. He got into a tough spot during the top of the sixth with his team up 8-0.
Sabathia allowed a leadoff infield single to Carlos Correa. He got the next two batters out, but Marwin Gonzalez reached on an error, allowing Correa to move to third. That brought Josh Reddick up with runners on the corners and two outs. Sabathia got Reddick to ground out to him and was so fired up he was seen yelling afterwards:
CC Sabathia on Friday responded to Jim Rice in the latest development of a back-and-forth between the two.
Sabathia got the win Thursday as his New York Yankees topped the Boston Red Sox 6-2 in the first of a key four-game series between the franchises. The southpaw was upset both during and after the game about the Red Sox trying to bunt on him and take advantage of a shaky knee that landed the pitcher on the disabled list.
After the game, Rice, a Red Sox Hall of Famer and current NESN analyst, told Sabathia to stop complaining and instead go on a diet.
The Boston Red Sox decided to come out bunting against CC Sabathia on Thursday night, and saying the New York Yankees pitcher did not agree with the strategy would be an understatement.
In the first inning, Red Sox second baseman Eduardo Nunez reached base by laying down a bunt and forcing an errant throw to first from Sabathia. The next two batters walked to load the bases, but Sabathia got out of the jam. After the lefty retired the side, he screamed toward the Boston dugout to express his discontent over Nunez bunting.
Sabathia, 37, has a bad right knee that has forced him to wear a brace. The brace helps eliminate pain he used to deal with when landing on his right leg, but he’s a big guy who didn’t move around well before the knee problems. He felt the Red Sox were being cowards for trying to take advantage of his lack of mobility.
“I think they just think I’m a bigger guy who can’t field my position, so ‘we’re going to try to bunt instead of swinging the bat,'” Sabathia said. “I mean, they have a really good lineup. I want to go out and compete against them. I just feel like sometimes they don’t want to. … Scared. I mean, let’s go, let’s play. Swing the bat.”
The Red Sox are trying to win the AL East, and they currently have a 4.5-game over the Yankees after New York’s 6-2 win on Thursday. It seems absurd that Sabathia is calling them out for exploiting his weakness in a situation like that. He told reporters that Nunez — a former teammate — apologized before his second at-bat, but Nunez’s take on the situation told a different story.
Núñez on his bunt: “We know he has a bad knee. That’s not our problem.”
Unfortunately for fans of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, Sabathia barking at the Boston dugout didn’t lead to any fireworks. He wouldn’t have been worried if they did.
“I don’t give a f— about their reaction,” the former Cy Young Award winner said. “I don’t care what they have to say. I’m out there early every day. If they’ve got something to say, we can meet in center field.”
Sabathia said he doesn’t have any personal issues with anyone on the Red Sox roster, but it’s no secret he has some problems with the city of Boston. He has dominated the Red Sox this season, so perhaps he felt he earned the right to call them out.
New Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian drew some cross-sport inspiration in his battle with alcoholism.
Speaking with the media on Wednesday, Sarkisian revealed that watching an October 2015 SportsCenter feature on New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia, who also struggled with the disease, inspired him to seek treatment.
“I was actually at home on a Sunday night and I was watching SportsCenter, and Scott Van Pelt was doing his editorial,” said Sarkisian, per Vaughn McClure of ESPN. “That night was when CC Sabathia had decided to go to treatment before the Major League Baseball playoffs. I thought to myself, ‘Whoa, here’s somebody who is like me, who is in a very high-profile position in sports – ace pitcher of the New York Yankees — and was being relatively commended or almost celebrated for going to do what he did.’
“I knew I needed to [go],” he continued. “I didn’t know how to go about it. But that thing gave me a feeling of, ‘There’s a like person that is going to do this. I know I need to do it. Now how, what, when.’ So I made the decision to go do it. It’s been the best decision of my life.”
Sarkisian’s drinking problem led to his firing as head football coach of the USC Trojans the very same month that feature aired. But after entering treatment, he bounced back by landing an assistant job at Alabama before making the leap to the NFL last February with the defending NFC champion Falcons. As for Sabathia, whose struggles at the time were equally troubling, he continues to produce for the Yankees post-treatment as he nears age 37, and it’s definitely great to see both men land on their feet again.
CC Sabathia has one year remaining on his current monster contract with the New York Yankees. The left-hander is nowhere close to as dominant as he was four or five years ago, but that does not mean he is considering retirement.
Sabathia, who has been with the Yankees since 2009, knows for certain that he wants to continue pitching beyond the 2017 season. If he can do it in New York, even better.
While his 8-12 record and 4.02 ERA this season is hardly vintage Sabathia, he pitched significantly better this year than he has in the previous two or three. The 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner may no longer intimidate opposing pitchers, but he is still very confident in his abilities.
“It’s definitely been an improvement. Health has been a big factor in that,” he said. “I feel like I’ve made big strides in becoming the pitcher I’ve been trying to become. I’m excited about it. As long as I’m healthy, I feel like I’ll be able to get big-league hitters out. I’ve proven that.”
Between his diminishing arm strength and the well-documented issues he has had in his personal life, Sabathia won’t be in line for a big contract when his current deal expires in a year. However, he is a left-hander who made 29 or more starts in each of the past two seasons. If he can do the same next year, he shouldn’t have trouble finding work.
“I just know myself,” Sabathia said. “I know I feel like it’s not my time yet. Barring any crazy injuries, I know I can pitch past next year. I feel like this is just the beginning of what I’m trying to do. I feel like there’s a lot more still to learn and a lot better to get. It’s exciting.”
According to a report by Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball, the Blue Jays sent scouts to watch both CC Sabathia and Andrew Cashner in their respective starts on Thursday. Heyman notes that the move could be an indication that Toronto is trying to acquiring another starter in order to shift All-Star right-hander Aaron Sanchez into a bullpen role.
Sabathia, 36, has gone 5-8 with a 4.04 ERA, a 1.38 WHIP, and 76 strikeouts in 17 starts for the Yankees this season. Unfortunately however, he probably didn’t put his best foot forward in front of the scouts on Thursday.
The 29-year-old Cashner, on the other hand, sports a 4-7 record this year with a 4.79 ERA, a 1.41 WHIP, and 61 strikeouts in 15 starts for the Padres.
Based on their 2016 performances and the non-contending status of each of their teams, both pitchers appear to be on the lower end of their individual values. With the Blue Jays just 1.5 games behind the Red Sox for the AL East division lead at the moment, acquiring another innings-eater to complement their potent offense could work wonders for a potential late-season push.
C.C. Sabathia has delivered thousands of pitches during his 16-year major league career. Unfortunately, one on Thursday didn’t go as planned.
During the sixth inning of the Yankees’ game against the Orioles, Sabathia was in the middle of his windup for a pitch to J.J. Hardy when the spikes of the veteran pitcher’s right shoe got caught in the mound dirt. The result was Sabathia taking a tumble towards home plate.
Sabathia was called for a balk and Chris Davis, who was on first base, was awarded second base. On the afternoon, Sabathia allowed four runs over 6 2/3 innings as the Yankees lost 4-1. He is now 5-8 on the season and has a 4.04 ERA.
All wasn’t bad for Sabathia on Thursday, though. He celebrated his 36th birthday and got to watch his team play in the Roc Nation Summer Classic charity basketball event to benefit a worthy cause.
After a lot of talk about CC Sabathia starting the season in the bullpen, it looks like the southpaw will make the New York Yankees’ starting rotation after all.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced Friday that Sabathia will open the season as the team’s No. 5 starter.
Sabathia is coming off a season where he went 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA. He missed the end of the season to seek treatment for alcoholism.
Once a Cy Young Award winner and ace for the Yankees, Sabathia has struggled for the last three seasons. He has battled knee problems and a decline in average fastball velocity, which have contributed to his drop-off as a pitcher.
The large lefty has posted a 5.51 ERA this spring training. He is getting the No. 5 starter job over Ivan Nova.