Tha Sports Junkies 101

5 Players Who Could Sabotage the Postseason

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As October approaches, I look at five players who can be difference-makers in the postseason.

Every year, a new hero emerges during the playoffs to lead his team on a postseason run.  Last October, it was Daniel Murphy paving the way for the New York Mets as they reached their first World Series since 2000.  The 2015 NLCS MVP hit a home run in six consecutive postseason games.  In 2014, Madison Bumgarner put the San Francisco Giants on his back, allowing just one run in 21 postseason innings.  After big performances on the biggest stages, Bumgarner and Murphy became household names among baseball fans.  A postseason spectacle for the ages can turn any player into a star.  With the 2016 playoffs just one week away, here are five players who could be this year’s Daniel Murphy.

Trea Turner

After getting a taste of the big leagues last season, Trea Turner has become one of baseball’s most electric players in 2016.  In 66 games, Turner has proven to be an offensive firecracker.  He is batting .336 with 32 extra-base hits, 12 of which have been home runs.  Turner has also stolen 27 bases while being thrown out on just 4 occasions.  Despite playing middle infield in the minors, the Nationals have moved their speedy 23 year-old to center field, where he has been solid.  Headed into the postseason as National League East champs, Washington is loaded with some serious star power.  Max Scherzer, Bryce Harper, and Daniel Murphy all have the capability to lead their club through October.  But with his unique, explosive offensive repertoire, Trea Turner could make a name for himself in the playoffs.

Addison Russell

The first time I ever saw Addison Russell play on television during the Arizona Fall League, I was enamored with his incredible talent, both offensively and defensively.  The 22 year-old shortstop has failed to hit for average so far in his young career, but his power has come to a head in his sophomore season.  Russell has clubbed 21 home runs, 17 of which came in June or later.  Russell hasn’t failed to flash the leather either. gives the Cubs‘ infielder a dWAR of 2.5, which puts him just below Brandon Crawford for the National League lead.  Chicago has plenty of big-name players, including Kris Bryant, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, and Anthony Rizzo.  However, Russell’s streaky power makes him the perfect fit to lead the Cubs in their quest to reverse the curse.  

Robert Gsellman

In 2016, the Mets‘ vaunted starting rotation has succumbed to injury.  Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz have both missed time due to bone spurs.  Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey have been shut down, and in turn, many baseballs fans and pundits alike started to count the Mets out from making another postseason run.  The Mets called up Robert Gsellman, and he has been absolutely stellar for New York.  In six starts, Gsellman has a 3-2 record, but his ERA is only 2.56.  He has struck out 35 batters in under 39 total innings, and the Mets wouldn’t be in the wild card race without his performances.  The rotation may seem thin heading into October, but if Gsellman can keep up his potent pitching, then the Mets may find themselves in the Fall Classic for the second year in a row.

Nomar Mazara

After their swift elimination thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2015 postseason, the Texas Rangers looked very overpowering in 2016 en route to another western division title.  Way back in April, Texas called up their top prospect, Nomar Mazara.  The then 20 year-old outfielder made his mark in his Major League debut, getting three knocks including a solo home run.  Mazara’s rookie season has been impressive, as he has slugged 20 home runs in 142 games.  Despite his overall success in his first campaign, Mazara’s notoriety has not been at the level you might expect.  But if the young outfielder can hit a few bombs during the playoffs, Mazara will certainly put himself at the forefront of the baseball world.

Sandy Leon

When you hit in the same lineup as Mookie Betts, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Xander Bogaerts, it is fairly easy to be forgotten.  The Boston Red Sox have many offensive superstars that lead the attack, but catcher Sandy Leon has been quietly invaluable to the lineup.  Unlike the other players highlighted by this article, Leon isn’t a youthful budding star; he’s 27 years old.  The Red Sox’ catcher has never produced much at the big league level, but he has found his groove in 2016.  In 74 games, Leon is batting .318 with 7 home runs.  He is batting .323 with runners in scoring position, displaying his clutch ability at the plate.  Everyone expects Betts, Bogaerts, and Big Papi to produce in October, but Sandy Leon could be the x-factor that brings Boston their second championship of the decade.