Nothing beats October baseball. It’s the culmination of a long and tedious schedule as baseball’s top ten teams fight for the commissioner’s trophy and World domination. Major League Baseball has had its fair share of postseason heroes; players like Joe Carter, Kirk Gibson, Derek Jeter and Madison Bumgarner have all etched their names into baseball folklore – remembered for coming through when their respective teams needed them most.
It should be noted however, that’s it’s almost as fun for us fans to revel in the anti-heroes; those players who have steered their playoff bound teams in the opposite direction. Who can ever forget Bill Buckner letting a routine ground ball and the World Series through his legs in 1986? Remember when Mitch Williams couldn’t preserve a 6-5 lead in game 5 of the 1993 championships? In light of the upcoming playoffs, we’re going to take a look at Major League Baseball players who will hinder their team’s chances of winning a World Series instead of helping. It’s easy to pick the All-Stars and winners, but we’re looking for potential duds and goats during the 2017 MLB playoffs.
15 Milwaukee Brewers: Corey Knebel
The Brewers are currently on the outside looking in for a spot in the postseason. After squandering a NL Central lead after the All-Star break, the Brew Crew are a couple games out of the NL Wild Card and sit 4 games behind the Cubs for the National League Central crown. If Milwaukee sneaks into the playoffs, look for their bulky, inexperienced closer to doom them. Corey Knebel is enjoying his first campaign as a closer. He’s notched 37 saves and owns a sparkling 1.52 ERA. However, Knebel has never appeared in a playoff game and locking down a tight game in the postseason isn’t the same as the regular season. Adding to his six blown saves in 2017, and his 1-3 record, look for Knebel to give up a late inning lead in a big spot in the postseason.
14 Boston Red Sox: David Price
David Price is currently in his second year with the Red Sox after signing a massive 217 million dollar deal for seven years. He made only 11 starts this year for the Sox and pitched mediocrely for a guy who’s making 30 million dollars a year (5-3/3.71 ERA). The southpaw has pitched in the postseason for the Tampa Bay Rays, Detroit Tigers, Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox and owns a 2-8 record in 9 career playoff starts. His ERA is 5.54 in those games while surrendering a 1.230 WHIP to opposing batters.
Since coming back from the DL, Price has been reassigned to the bullpen. Look for Price to enter in a big spot in the postseason out of the ‘pen and pitch his way right onto the bench as a result. He’s not the pitcher he once was, command is off, speed is diminishing and his playoff stats don’t lie – he doesn’t come through when his team needs him most.
13 St. Louis Cardinals: Brett Cecil
Brett Cecil signed a 4-year 30.5 million dollar deal with the Cardinals prior to the 2017 season. He’s a reliable bullpen piece who eats up innings and whose primary use is to get lefties out. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, Cecil hasn’t been able to get lefties out – mirroring his tough time against lefties while he was a member of the Blue Jays. Along with a disappointing second half, Cecil has been incapable of getting left handed hitters out this year and expect the same in the postseason from the southpaw. Expect Mike Matheny to call on Cecil in a big spot in the postseason against an opposing team’s big left-handed hitter. Cecil won’t come through and will blow a big game as a result. Lefties have tuned up Cecil to .365 average this season, have taken him deep three times and have swiped fives bases on him in six tries. Matheny and the Cardinals might want to think twice before calling upon ol’ Brett.
12 Texas Rangers: Rougned Odor
The American League West has been locked up since late June. The Astros tore the cover off the ball to start the year and never looked back. If the Rangers want to make the playoffs, they’ll need to get there via one of the two wild card spots. If the Rangers make the postseason, their fiery, little second basemen will find a way to fumble it all. Rougned Odor gained a reputation of being a tough guy since he sucker-punched Jose Bautista in 2016 and started playing a chirpy and cocky type of baseball. Though he’s maintained a powerful surge, his batting average has seen a dramatic decline falling from .271 to his current .208. Looking to outplay his 2017 struggles, Odor will make a catastrophic error that will result in a Rangers loss. Odor will lose his cool and have a monumental meltdown in the dugout.
11 Los Angeles Dodgers: Yasiel Puig
There’s no denying that Yasiel Puig is an electrifying talent in the Major Leagues. He’s built like a linebacker and is a fierce competitor. He’s had his trouble off the field like domestic abuse allegations and fighting employees and bouncers at a nightclub in LA. He’s also had some problems on the field, with opposing players (Albert Pujols) and teammates. One Dodger ex-teammate claimed, “he is the worst person I’ve ever seen in this game.”
With the Dodgers a lock for the postseason and a regular season record to dictate a deep run, Puig’s head will continue to inflate and he’ll find a way to take the Dodgers down with him at the worst possible time. I’m calling a game 7 baserunning blunder that will prove to be immensely costly.
10 Kansas City Royals: Jorge Soler
The 2015 World Champions have been playing solid baseball in the second half, which has placed them on the outskirts of the playoff race. The Indians catapulted to first place in the A.L. Central by putting together a historic winning streak that has resulted in the Royals vying for a wild card spot. Should the Royals make the playoffs, look for Jorge Soler to pick up where he left off with the Chicago Cubs of last year – striking out a lot. Soler has outstanding power that hasn’t been seen much this season as a result of his high strikeout ratio. Soler only hit 2 home runs this year, his first with the Royals, and struck out 35 times in 95 at-bats. As a pinch-hitter or a designated hitter in the playoffs, expect Soler to whiff in a big spot with the bases loaded and nobody out. Twice.
9 Chicago Cubs: Ian Happ
Joe Maddon’s head might explode with all of his player’s versatility options. Happ performed well since his promotion to the big league and has fared well switching between centre field and second base defensively. He’s a switch-hitter with good instincts and surprising speed but without a concrete position and steady spot in the batting lineup, look for the young utility man to be confused come playoff time. He’s prone to the strikeout, often rushes his throws and his inexperience in big spots may lead to a colossal miscue. With the Steve Bartman era over in Chicago, someone or something needs to step up as the new Chicago goat.
8 Houston Astros: Cameron Maybin
Cameron Maybin was drafted 10th overall in the 2005 MLB Amateur Draft by the Detroit Tigers. Though he’s shown signs of brilliance, he’s never lived up to his hype and has constantly been a trade piece in an attempt to change his scenery. Since 2007, he’s played for the Tigers (twice), the Miami Marlins, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Angels and is now with the postseason bound Houston Astros. During his 11-year, 6-team career, Maybin has never been to the playoffs. He’s currently the starting left fielder on an injured but favourite Astros club and his playoff inexperience could prove costly. Look for Cameron to fail coming through in big spots amidst a hefty Astros lineup. He’ll be the weak spot pitchers target and he won’t come through.
7 Los Angeles Angels: Ricky Nolasco
The Angels made some key upgrades at the trade deadline and hauled in Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips to help cement an impressive lineup that already included Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. They can’t say the same for an inconsistent pitching rotation headlined by veteran right-hander Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco will get the ball in any big game the Angels play and he won’t come through. He’s 6-14 with a 5.06 ERA so far in 2017 and his one playoff game wasn’t good: Nolasco started his only playoff game in 2013 with the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. He lasted only 4 innings and gave up 3 runs in a losing effort. As the Angels “ace” look for Nolasco to pitch a similar line in a big game for the Angels.
6 Colorado Rockies: Ian Desmond
Ian Desmond signed a five-year, 70$ million contract to be the Rockies’ utility man. A hand injury in spring training may have lead to Desmond’s sub-par year in his introduction to hitter-friendly Colorado. He hit .275 but only managed 5 home runs and 34 RBIs in 84 games as of this writing. During last year’s American League Division Series against Toronto, notched only 3 hits in 14 at bats while playing left field. Desmond has been pushed out of a starting spot in a crowded and talented Rockies’ club – look for Desmond to try to make up for a lost season by over-playing in the field and in the batter’s box for the Rockies’ first postseason appearance since 2009.
5 New York Yankees: Greg Bird
The young Bronx Bombers have had a surprising and entertaining season as they attempt to go deep in the playoffs for the first time since 2012. Their young stars; Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Starlin Castro have been producing except for Greg Bird. Bird endured his second straight injury plagued season and has been seeing a good amount of playing time since returning in August. Girardi is priming him up to play first base come playoff time but Bird won’t be ready. I’m feeling a Buckner-esque game fumbling error with runners on, late in the game in a critical spot. Bird was healing an injured ankle all year and could only witness the Yankees magic from afar. He’ll try too hard to contribute and it will end up costing him and the Yankees big time.
4 Arizona Diamondbacks: Chris Iannetta
Iannetta manned a solid Diamondbacks’ pitching staff from behind the plate all year. Not known for his hitting, he swatted 14 bombs and 34 RBIs while batting .249. With the likes of Paul Goldshmidt, Jake Lamb and J.D, Martinez batting in front of him, opposing pitchers will seek out Iannetta in the lineup and hunt him as an easy out. Chris has only seen playoff action for 3 games during his time with the Angels in 2014 to which he had one hit in 11 at bats. The 12-year-vet is going to get attacked by the best pitchers opposing him and he’ll take his batting frustrations with him behind the plate and call a bad game. Iannetta will lose focus and his young Diamondback pitchers won’t be able to connect with their catcher as a result.
3 Minnesota Twins: Ervin Santana
The Twins are on their way to appearing in the playoffs for the first time since 2010. They boast a solid lineup with a young core headlined by hulking third baseman Miguel Sano, shortstop Jorge Polanco and speedy outfielder Byron Buxton. Their pitching rotation has held up but it won’t come October. Ervin Santana has headlined the rotation all year and will continue to do so in the postseason. Santana’s postseason stats aren’t exactly eye-popping. In 8 games, he’s gone 2-2 with an ERA of 5.56 in 22.2 innings pitched. Ervin will bring those stats to the front of an equally inexperienced Twins rotation in an attempt to go deep in the playoffs. Santana has had a history of clubhouse problems with teammates and that won’t bode well in the playoffs when everyone’s got to come together.
2 Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper
Bryce Harper is always at the centre of attention. He usually revels in that situation. But this year’s playoffs will be different. Harper is on his way back from a knee injury. Harper’s electric swung causes him to rely on his legs and a tender knee may halt him from powering up. After his fight with Hunter Strickland in July, opposing pitchers, especially the best in the league at playoffs, will target Harper and even try to get under his skin. With the target on his back, Harper is also going to try to prove his worth as his free agency is forthcoming. With the Nationals favourites to go deep into the postseason, look for Harper to put too much pressure on himself, too much pressure at his looming and potential 400$ million dollar contract and his injury – Harper will likely be the biggest dud of the MLB playoffs.
1 Cleveland Indians: Edwin Encarnacion
After falling to the Cubs in the 2016 World Series, the Indians bolstered their lineup by signing Edwin Encarnacion to a 4-year deal. Edwin responded by mashing 36 home runs to this point while knocking in 96. Loaded with a stellar rotation and an unbelievable bullpen, the Indians were only lacking some pop in their batting order and that’s what EE was brought in for. If we know this, opposing pitchers do too. Every pitcher is going make sure Encarnacion doesn’t beat them and they’ll make sure to attack him accordingly. Encarnacion has put up decent numbers in his postseason career even though his production numbers have been lacklustre. Through 20 games, Edwin has hit just 4 homeruns and knocked in 14. If the Tribe wants to make another deep run, Encarnacion is going to have to put the team on his shoulders, and I don’t think he can.