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Brian Cassella / Chicago Tribune

The Division Series are now all complete. But before we move on to the ALCS or NLCS, why not award an MVP for the Division Series.

The staff here at Sully Baseball can not understand why there is no MVP awarded to the top performer of the Division Series.

It is a post season series that will be the highlight of the year for the 2 teams that lose the League Championship Series. Sure the series could be over in 3 games. But when the ALCS and NLCS was best of 5, they awarded an MVP for THOSE series.

This has been a Sully Baseball tradition for a few years now to award each season’s Division Series MVP. And I also list the past MVPs dating back to the first year the Division Series became an annual event.

And this listing also includes the MVPs for the 1981 Divisional Playoffs as well. Why not?

And now there are four new Division Series MVPs, whose post season heroics will NOT go unnoticed here!

American League
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Altuve homered 3 times in the opening game and finished the 4 game series win with a .533 average and an OPS of 1.765 to help the Astros outslug the Red Sox.
Bird posted an OPS of .919 for the series and hit the go ahead homer in Game 3 that helped the Yankees off the mat from an 0-2 hole to shock Cleveland in 5.
National League
Homered in the first inning of Game 1 to set the tone for LA. He would bat .462 with an OPS of 1.226 to lead the Dodgers to a sweep of Arizona.
Lester started a game and came in relief for another, combining for 3 hits and 2 runs over 9 2/3 innings, posting a 1.86 ERA overall as the Cubs snuck past the Nationals in 5.
Turner and Lester each won this award in back to back seasons.
American League

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images North America

JOSH DONALDSON, Toronto Blue Jays
Donaldson posted a .538 average and a 1.418 OPS, and smacked a key double and scored the Division Series run while hustling from second on an error, sealing the Blue Jays sweep of the Rangers..

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America

JOSE RAMIREZ, Cleveland Indians
Ramirez went 5 for 10, posting a 1.183 OPS and gave the Indians highlight reel defense in their three game sweep of the Red Sox.
2016 National League

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America

JON LESTER, Chicago Cubs
Lester out dueled Johnny Cueto with 8 brilliant shutout innings and gave the Cubs a critical 1-0 series lead that they would need to beat San Francisco in a wild 4 game series..

Getty Images

JUSTIN TURNER, Los Angeles Dodgers

Turner batted .400 with an OPS of 1.324, driving in 5 runs in the 5 game series, including 2 in the dramatic deciding game, leading the Dodgers past Washington.
American League
Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America

Tom Pennington/Getty Images North America

KEVIN PILLAR, Toronto Blue Jays
Pillar batted .333 with a .905 OPS, clubbing a homer, driving in 4 runs and made some highlight reel catches in the Blue Jays come from behind series win against Texas.
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

SALVADOR PEREZ, Kansas City Royals
Perez slugged .714 and posted a 1.159 OPS while homering twice and driving in 4 key runs to help spark the Royals to a 5 game victory over Houston.
National League 
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

JORGE SOLER, Chicago Cubs
Soler was a one man wrecking crew, batting an amazing .571 and posting a 2.341 OPS, smashing a pair of homers for the Cubs as they beat the Cardinals in 4.


Murphy batted .333, homered 3 times, twice against Kershaw and once against Greinke, and stole third on a walk in a critical moment of the clinching Game 5 and sparked the Mets to a thrilling 5 game victory over the Dodgers.
American League
NELSON CRUZ, Baltimore Orioles
Nelson Cruz
Cruz continued his post season dominance of the Tigers by batting an even .500 and logging a 1.500 OPS in the Orioles 3 game sweep. He homered twice, including the shot that drove in both Baltimore runs in the Game 3 clincher. He collected 6 hits in the 3 games, scoring 4 and driving in 5.
ERIC HOSMER, Kansas City Royals
Hosmer batted .400 with an OPS of 1.638 in the Royals three game sweep of the heavily favored Angels.  His 11th inning homer put the Royals ahead for good in Game 2. He homered again in the Game 3 clincher in Kansas City.
National League
MATT CARPENTER, St. Louis Cardinals
After only hitting 8 homers all year, Carpenter slugged 3 in the first three games against the Dodgers. He would also hit 3 doubles, drive in 7 and bat .375 with an OPS of 1.537, leading St. Louis to a 4 game victory.
YUSMEIRO PETIT, San Francisco Giants
In a series dominated by pitching, Petit’s mind boggling relief performance in Game 2 put the Giants in complete control of the Nationals. Entering the game in the 12 inning, he threw 6 innings of 1 hit shutout ball. All 80 pitches he threw could have been a walk off hit for Washington. Instead he kept them off the board, setting up the Giants 2-1 victory in 18 innings.
American League
MLB: Chicago White Sox at Boston Red Sox
 The Red Sox centerfielder batted an even .500 in the 4 game victory against the Rays. He also slugged .611 and finished with an OPS of 1.137 and stole 4 bases.
His last stolen base may have caused the Rays catcher to misplay a wild pitch that tied the game and he Ellsbury would come around to score the eventual series winning run on a ground out. His speed, power and also his defense would be the difference in the series.
Division Series - Detroit Tigers v Oakland Athletics - Game Two
 In a series dominated by pitching, nobody shone brighter than Verlander.
He threw 15 shutout innings, including 8 scoreless frames where he flirted with a no hitter in the clincher at Oakland. He struck out 21 and walked just 2 as he won the Division Series MVP for the Tigers against the same opponent in the second straight season.
National League
The Cardinals ace shut down the emotional favorite Pirates with a dominating performance in Game 1 and then again in the clinching Game 5.
He cruised to a 7 inning one run performance in the opener and then threw a complete game masterpiece to finish off the Bucs and send the Cardinals to the NLCS for the third straight season.
The Dodgers shortstop made the most of his first post season appearance collecting 6 extra base hits in the 4 games.
In game 3, he went 3-4 with 3 runs scored and 2 RBI, being a home run shy of the cycle. His lead off double in the third inning started the rally that would put the Dodgers on top for good.
He finished with a .500 average, slugged 1.063 and collected an eye popping 1.618 OPS
American League
The Yankees starting rotation was supposed to be a weakness. But they excelled in the five game thriller against the Baltimore Orioles.

Sabathia led the way, winning both of his starts. He pitched 8 2/3 innings and won the opener which was closer than the final 7-2 score would indicate.

Then with the bullpen exhausted after back to back extra innings game, Sabathia pitched the deciding game and pitched a complete game in the Yankees 3-1 victory. He wiggled out of trouble in the 8th inning and clinched the series. He finished with a 2-0 record and a 1.53 ERA with 16 strikeouts and 3 walks over 17 2/3 innings.



The defending Cy Young winner and MVP let up a lead off homer by Oakland’s Coco Crisp. After that let up no runs, 7 hits,  5 walks, 22 strike outs in the next 16 innings. That includes his Game 5 complete game shutout that sent the Tigers back to the ALCS for the second straight here.

National League
Beltran went on a tear as the defending World Champion Cardinals stunned the Washington Nationals. He batted .444 with an OPS of 1.486, two homers and four runs batted in. His lead off double in the 9th inning of Game 5 sparked the startling comeback that gave St. Louis the series.
He won the award with the 2004 Houston Astros.
A series where the Giants got subpar performances from their starters  and lineup, nobody came up bigger than Romo.
Filling in for injured closer Brian Wilson, Romo came up huge. He faced three batters in the 9th inning of Game 3 where any one of them could have won the series for Cincinnati with one swing of the bat. He retired all three. He closed out the Reds in the 10th for the win.
He pitched 1 1/3 innings in the final game and twice faced batters who could have clinched the series for the Reds. He retired them, got the save and sent the Giants to the NLCS.


American League

DELMON YOUNG, Detroit Tigers

Young batted .316 and hit 3 homers, including the game winning shot in Game 3 and a crucial homer in the first inning of the clinching Game 5.

His OPS of 1.170 led the team as the Tigers eliminated the Yankees.

 MIKE NAPOLI, Texas Rangers

Sure, Adrian Beltre’s 3 homers in the clincher were amazing. But Napoli’s 2 run homer in Game 3 turned the tide of the series for good in favor of the Rangers.

Napoli also drove in 2 runs in the Rangers come from behind win in Game 2.

In all, Napoli batted .357 with an OPS of .971 and helped take the momentum away from the surging Rays.

National League

YOVANI GALLARDO, Milwaukee Brewers

Won Game 1 with a solid 8 inning performance where he struck out 9 while letting up only 4 hits, 1 run and 1 walk.
Then pitched 6 innings of 1 run ball in the Game 5 clincher and would have received the win if Axford hadn’t blown the save. In all he pitched 14 innings to a 1.29 ERA, walking only 3 while striking out 14.

He pitched poorly in his game 2 start and nearly put the Cardinals in an 0-2 hole. But he redeemed himself in the deciding Game 5.

Facing Roy Halladay in a do or die game, Carpenter faced borderline impossible odds. And Halladay was up to the task with his 8 innings 1 run performance. But Carpenter gave the Cardinals one more inning and one fewer run. His 3 hit complete game shutout stunned the Phillies and pulled off one of the great upsets in Division Series history.
He also won this fake award in 2006.


American League


Was the spark plug in the Yankees 3 game sweep of the Twins. Smacked a go ahead 2 run triple in Game 1, went 3-4 with an RBI in Game 2 and set up a key run in Game 3 with a walk and a steal.

He finished the series with a .455 average and an OPS of 1.227.



Beat the Rays and David Price twice, posting a 2-0 record with a 1.12 ERA, 22 strikeouts and no walks in 16 innings of work.

He threw a complete game masterpiece in the final Game 5 in Tampa Bay to clinch the Rangers first ever post season series.

Like Granderson, he becomes a second time winner and the first to do it in both leagues.

National League

ROY HALLADAY, Philadelphia Phillies

Pitched his way into baseball history by throwing the second no hitter in post season history with his 4-0 masterpiece in Game 1 against the Reds.

The Reds would score only 4 runs all series as Halladay set the tone.

TIM LINCECUM, San Francisco Giants

Threw a complete game 2 hit shutout in Game 1 and pitched under pressure against the Braves all game.

The Giants bats were dead but “The Franchise” made sure their 1-0 lead was enough.


American League

ALEX RODRIGUEZ, New York Yankees

Twins fans have no clue what people are referring to when A-Rod is called an October choker. After almost single handily eliminating Minnesota in 2004, A-Rod dominated once again in 2009.

He batted .455 with an OPS of 1.500 in the three game sweep, driving in 6 runs. But also showed a flair for the dramatic. He crushed a 9th inning game tying homer off of All Star closer Joe Nathan in the wild Game 2. And then hit another game tying shot in the 7th inning of the clinching Game 3.

All this after driving in 1 run in his previous 16 playoff games combined!

 BOBBY ABREU, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Abreu’s numbers were eye popping enough in the Angels’ sweep over the Red Sox.

He batted .556 with an OPS of 1.470. But his 2 out 2 strike RBI double in the 9th inning of Game 3 brought the Angels to within 1 run and set up the dramatic Vlad Guerrero 2 run single.

National League

CLIFF LEE, Philadelphia Phillies

As I wrote earlier, Lee’s Game 1 was a tour de force. He threw a complete game, got a hit and stole a base.

And while he didn’t get the win in the Game 4 clincher, he pitched into the 8th inning holding the Rockies to 3 runs in Coors Field… no small feat.
Ethier hit an even .500 with a 1.905 OPS in the Dodgers startling three game sweep of the Cardinals.
He homered in the Game 2 come from behind win and hit a 2 run homer in the Game 3 clincher that helped break the Cardinals’ back.


American League

JASON BAY, Boston Red Sox

Bay batted .412 with a .882 slugging, 2 homers and 5 runs batted in during his first post season. But that only tells part of his impact in the Red Sox 4 game victory over the favored Angels.

His 6th inning 2 run homer put the Angels on their heels seemingly for the rest of the series.

His 3 run shot in the first inning gave the Red Sox a 4-1 cushion early.

And he scored the series winning run after his 1 out 9th inning flair bounced into the stands for a ground rule double.


Yes, Evan Longoria’s home runs were almost as sexy as Eva Longoria. But Iwamura hit a key triple in game 1, hit the go ahead homer in game 2, gave the Rays an early lead with a single in game 3 and went 2-5 in the game 4 clincher against the White Sox.

In all, Iwamura batted .389 with a .722 slugging in the series.

National League

MANNY RAMIREZ, Los Angeles Dodgers

As if his numbers weren’t gaudy enough (2 homers, a .500 average and a 1.743 OPS in the stunning three game sweep of the Cubs) his presence was even a bigger threat.

With 2 outs and a 2 run lead, Ryan Dempster walked Ramirez in the 5th inning… which set up the James Loney grand slam.

Manny simply changed the series by being Manny.

 BRETT MYERS, Philadelphia Phillies

Any hope for the Milwaukee Brewers winning the Division Series hinged on the left arm of CC Sabathia. Not only did he beat Sabathia in the 5-2 Phillies win in game 2, but his gritty at bat in the second inning where he kept fouling off two out two strike pitches to ultimately coax a walk set up Shane Victorino’s game winning grand slam.

Myers 7 inning, 2 hit performance loomed even larger when the Brewers won the next game but were eliminated in game 4.


American League

DAVID ORTIZ, Boston Red Sox

Everyone remembers Manny standing at home plate after his walk off homer in game 2… but that was set up by the intentional walk to Big Papi.

Ortiz hit .714 with an OPS of 2.417 in the three game sweep of the Angels. Plus he hit homers in games 1 and 3.

 GRADY SIZEMORE, Cleveland Indians

Batted .375 with an OPS of 1.212 from the lead off spot. Scored the tying run on Joba Chamberlain’s insect inspired wild pitch and hit the lead off home run in game 4 that sunk the Yankees 3 games to 1.

National League

STEPHEN DREW, Arizona Diamondbacks

Hit a key homer off of Carlos Zambrano in game 1 and doubled and scored in the heart breaking first inning at Wrigley.

Finished the three game sweep of the Cubs at an even .500 with an OPS of 1.643 and 4 RBI

 KAZ MATSUI, Colorado Rockies

Matsui erased a 1 run deficit with a 2 out 4th inning grand slam in game 2. The Phillies never recovered and were swept away in 3. He also hit a 2 out RBI triple in the clinching third game. In the end he batted .417 with a 1.583 OPS.


American League

FRANK THOMAS, Oakland Athletics

With his 2 home runs in game 1 (including one off of Johan Santana) Thomas crushed the Minnesota Twins’ late season momentum and turned the series into a surprising 3 game sweep.

In the end, Thomas batted .500 with an OPS of 1.783

CARLOS GUILLEN, Detroit Tigers


Guillen hit a game tying homer in Game 2 that may have change the complexion of the series. He would finish the series with a .571 average and an OPS of 1.625 as the Tigers pulled off the upset of the Yankees.

National League


Delgado went 4-5 in his first ever post season game, including a home run and the game winning hit in the 7th inning. He finished the series with a .429 Average and a 1.072 OPS.

 CHRIS CARPENTER, St. Louis Cardinals

Went 2-0 in the 4 game upset of San Diego. Pitched 7 strong innings in the game 4 clincher


American League

BENGIE MOLINA, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Hit the game tying single and then a key home run in game 2 and then homered off of Randy Johnson in the game 3 win in Yankee Stadium. In all he batted .444 with an OPS of 1.418 with 3 homers and 5 RBI in the Angels 5 game win over the Yankees.

 A. J. PIERZYNSKI, Chicago White Sox

Pierzynski homered twice in the 14-2 game 1 rout of the Defending Champion Red Sox. Doubled to lead off the 9th inning of game 3 and scored a critical insurance run to complete the 3 game sweep. Finished with a .444 average and a 1.878 OPS.

National League

LANCE BERKMAN, Houston Astros

Batted .357 with 5 RBI in Houston’s 4 game victory over the Braves.

Brought the Astros back to within one in game 4 with an 8th inning grand slam. The Astros would tie the game in the 9th and go on the 18 inning marathon before clinching on Chris Burke’s homer.

 REGGIE SANDERS, St. Louis Cardinals

Sanders drove in an incredible 10 runs in the three game sweep of the San Diego Padres. 6 of those runs were driven in game 1 with a 2 run single and a grand slam



American League

DAVID ORTIZ, Boston Red Sox

Pretty cut and dry choice here.

Ortiz hit .545 with a 1.688 OPS for the three game sweep of the Angels… and ended the series with a dramatic 2 out 2 run walk off 10th inning home run that sent Fenway into a frenzy.

 ALEX RODRIGUEZ, New York Yankees

A-Rod’s first foray into Yankee playoff baseball was an unqualified success.

He batted .421 with an OPS of 1.213 in the 4 game victory over the Twins. He drove in 3 runs in the extra inning game 2 victory including a one out game tying double in the 12th. In the clinching game 4, he doubled in the 11th, stole third and scored what would be the series winning run on a wild pitch.

Between his heroics against the Twins and his .368 average with a 1.244 OPS in the first 4 games against Boston, A-Rod’s post season legacy in New York looked down right heroic. He never found his playoff mojo again until 2009.

National League

EDGAR RENTERIA, St. Louis Cardinals

In a line up full of power threats like Pujols, Walker, Rolen, Edmonds and Sanders, it was Renteria who put up the biggest numbers. He batted .455 in the 4 game victory over Los Angeles with a 1.236 OPS.

Hit key RBI double in game 1, a big RBI single in the clincher and seemed to be involved in rallies throughout the series.

 CARLOS BELTRAN, Houston Astros

Beltran’s spectacular cameo in Houston included blasting 4 home runs in the Astros’ 5 game victory over Atlanta. 2 of those homers took place in the do or die game 5.

In all, Beltran’s amazing salary drive included a .455 average, a 1.591 OPS, 4 home runs and 9 RBI


American League

ANDY PETTITTE, New York Yankees

Down 1-0 to the Twins, Pettitte pitched a solid game 2 and held Minnesota off long enough for the Yankees to rally for 3 7th inning runs to win the game.

The Yankees responded by winning the next two games in Minneapolis, but who knows how the series would have unfolded if New York was down 0-2?

TODD WALKER, Boston Red Sox

Smashed 3 home runs in the 5 game series with Oakland, including one in a possible elimination game 4 that brought the Red Sox to within 1. He picked up the slack for the slumping Ortiz and Ramirez with a .313 average and a 1.228 OPS. Now someday I’ll understand why Grady kept pulling him in the late innings.

National League

IVAN RODRIGUEZ, Florida Marlins

Sure his numbers in the Marlins 4 game victory over the heavily favored Giants were great (.353, 6 RBI, 1.038 OPS) but his flair for the dramatic was even better.

His 2 out 2 run walk off single capped a come from behind rally to win a critical game 4 in 11 innings. His collision at the plate with Yorvit Torreabla allowed himself to score the go ahead run and let an important insurance run come home as well.

And the series ended with J. T. Snow crashing into home with the potential tying run, but Pudge held onto the ball and ended the series.

 KERRY WOOD, Chicago Cubs

Facing the 101 win Atlanta Braves, Kerry Wood pitched road victories for game 1 and the clinching game 5.

He pitched into the 8th inning striking out 11 in game 1.

He then threw 8 innings letting up only 1 run in the clincher… the only post season series victory for the Cubs since 1908.


American League

TIM SALMON, Anaheim Angels

Drove in 7 runs in the shocking 4 game upset of the Yankees. His 2 run double started the Angels come back rally from a 6-1 game 3 deficit.

 BRAD RADKE, Minnesota Twins

Won game 1 and the clinching game 5 in Oakland as the Twins stunned the heavily favored A’s. Finished the series with a 2-0 record with a 1.54 and only one walk in his two starts.

National League

FERNANDO VINA, St. Louis Cardinals

Gave the Cardinals unbelievable production from the top of the order as they swept the defending champion Diamondbacks in 3 games.

He finished with a .600 average and an OPS of 1.225 and was always on base as sluggers like Pujols and Edmonds slugged the Cardinals past Johnson and Schilling.

RUSS ORTIZ, San Francisco Giants

Won the opener of the series on the road in Atlanta by pitching 7 solid innings letting up only 2 runs and 5 hits.

Came back to win the clinching game 5, pitching into the 6th inning letting up a single run as the Giants upset the Braves.


American League

DEREK JETER, New York Yankees

His .444 average and .976 OPS would be enough for consideration… but his miracle flip play to nail Jeremy Giambi at the plate probably prevented an Oakland sweep. He made a crashing catch into the stands for good measure.

ICHIRO SUZUKI, Seattle Mariners

Batted .600 with a 1.269 OPS in the 5 game victory over Cleveland. Got 12 hits in the short series including a key RBI hit in the series saving 7th inning rally in game 4.

National League

CURT SCHILLING, Arizona Diamondbacks

Schilling threw complete game victories in game 1 and the clinching game 5 over the St. Louis Cardinals. He let up a total of 9 hits and only 2 walks while striking out 18 to a 0.50 ERA.

 CHIPPER JONES, Atlanta Braves

Jones’ 3 run 8th inning homer gave the Braves the lead in game 1 and they never looked back in their sweep of the Houston Astros.

Jones finished the series with a .444 average, a 1.694 OPS, 2 homers and 5 RBI.


American League

MARIANO RIVERA, New York Yankees

With the Yankees stumbling into the 2000 playoffs, the 2 time defending champs looked vulnerable to the upstart A’s. Joe Torre needed to call on Rivera to come into the 8th inning three different times.

In game 2, Rivera came in the 8th with the tying run at the plate and got out of the jam.

In game 3, started the 8th and pitched 2 shut out innings for the save.

In the game 5 clincher, Rivera came in with the tying run at the plate and only one out and finished the game without letting up a run.

In all, Rivera let up no runs, no walks and only 2 hits in 5 innings as he saved all 3 wins.

 EDGAR MARTINEZ, Seattle Mariners

Martinez hit a 2 run game winning 10th inning home run off of White Sox pitcher Keith Foulke. In all, Martinez hit .364 with a 1.189 OPS in the three game sweep of the White Sox.

National League

JIM EDMONDS, St. Louis Cardinals

Batted .571, homered twice, drove in 7 runs and finished with an OPS of 1.886 as the Cardinals massacred the Braves in 3 games.

 BOBBY JONES, New York Mets

With the Mets up 2-1 in the series after two thrilling extra inning wins over San Francisco, Jones shut down the Giants once and for all in the game 4 clincher.

Jones let up a double to Jeff Kent and a walk to J.T. Snow in the 5th inning… but was perfect in the other 8 as his 1 hit complete game shutout crushed the Giants and propelled the Mets to the NLCS.


American League


Blink and you would miss the 1999 division series between the Rangers and the Yankees. The tone of the series was set early by El Duque who shut down the mighty Rangers to only 2 hits over 8 shut out innings in the opener.

The Rangers would score a single run in the SERIES as they were swept in 3.


Yes Nomar got some big hits… and Valentin drove in 12 runs in the 5 game series against the Indians… and O’Leary’s 2 homers sealed the deal.

But the spectre of Pedro loomed over this entire series.

When Pedro got hurt in game 1 after throwing 4 shut out innings, it gave the Indians a fighting chance.

And when he came in the 4th inning as a reliever in the deciding 5th game, their fate was sealed.

Pedro threw 6 no hit innings to finish the series and combined for 10 innings, only 3 hits and 11 strikeouts.

National League

KEVIN MILLWOOD, Atlanta Braves

Millwood let up a second inning home run to Houston’s Ken Caminiti in game 2. He didn’t allow a hit nor a walk for the rest of the game as he threw a complete game one hitter.

That performance would be enough for consideration but the next game, he came out of the bullpen and threw a 1-2-3 12th for the save.

The Braves would clinch the next day.


“Fonzie” homered 3 times in the 4 game victory over the Diamondbacks. His second one was a 9th inning grand slam that put the Mets ahead and set the tone for the series.

He would finish the series with a 1.243 OPS and helped turn 5 double plays.


American League

, New York Yankees


Spencer didn’t even start the first game of the three game sweep of the Rangers.

But he hit the go ahead homer in game 2 and put the clinching game 3 away with a three run shot…giving him a .500 average and a 2.000 OPS.

KENNY LOFTON, Cleveland Indians

Kenny Lofton

Lofton finished the series with a .375 average and a 1.225 OPS including 2 homers in the 4 game series win over the Red Sox.

His single and stolen base set up the 2 run rally that gave the Indians the 2-1 series ending victory in game 4.

He also hit the go ahead run in Cleveland’s game 2 victory and homered to put the Indians ahead for good in game 3.

National League

JOHN SMOLTZ, Atlanta Braves

Smoltz threw into the 8th inning, letting up only 1 run, 5 hits and walking none as the Braves slowed down the Cubs momentum and took control of the series early. Despite a scare in game 2, the Braves would go on to sweep.

 KEVIN BROWN, San Diego Padres

Out dueled Randy Johnson in a thrilling game 1 showdown. Brown went 8 innings letting up only 2 hits and no runs while striking out 16 in the Padres 2-1 victory.

Combined with his game 3 start where he threw into the 7th inning, Brown had a 0.61 ERA in 14 2/3 innings while striking out 21 as the Padres beat the Astros in 4.


American League

SANDY ALOMAR, JR, Cleveland Indians

Batted .316 with 2 homers, 5 RBI and an OPS of 1.000 in the Indians tense 5 game victory over the Yankees.

But no hit was bigger than his game tying home run off of Mariano Rivera with the Indians just 4 outs from elimination in game 4.

Cleveland would go on to win games 4 and 5 by one run each.

MIKE MUSSINA, Baltimore Orioles

Out pitched Randy Johnson at the Kingdome for game 1 and then beat him again in the clinching game 4 in Camden Yards.

Finished the 4 game series with a 2-0 record, a 1.93 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 14 innings as the Orioles beat the star studded Seattle team for a trip to the ALCS.

National League

GREG MADDUX, Atlanta Braves

Astros pitcher Darryl Kile held the mighty Braves to only 2 hits and 2 runs in the opening game in Atlanta.

And it wasn’t good enough as Greg Maddux threw a complete game and held the Astros to a single run. Having avoided the Astros biggest threat, the Braves swept Houston in 3.

GARY SHEFFIELD, Florida Marlins

Finished the 3 game sweep of the Giants with a .556 average, an OPS of 1.714. Homered in the game 2 win and always seemed to be on base as the Marlins won 3 heart stopping games.


American League


Truth be told, I almost gave this to Juan Gonzalez… who hit 5 homers in 4 games for the Rangers and was a one man wrecking crew. But I couldn’t give it to a player on the losing team! I just couldn’t.

Besides, Bernie did his share of damage… including scoring the tying run in game 2, driving home the tying run in the 9th inning of game 3 and homering twice in the come from behind game 4 clincher.

 B. J. SURHOFF, Baltimore Orioles

Surhoff homered twice in game 1 and finished the series with 3 homers, a .385 average and an OPS of 1.462 as the Orioles stunned the defending AL Champion Indians in 4 games.

National League

JOHN SMOLTZ, Atlanta Braves

In a series dominated by pitching, nobody pitched better than Smoltz who shut the Dodgers down to 1 run over 9 innings in the opening game. Smoltz would get the victory as the Braves won in 10 and would sweep Los Angeles despite hitting only .180 for the series.

  DENNIS ECKERSLEY, St. Louis Cardinals

In a tight series where all three games could have gone either way, Eck came through with 3 save, letting up no runs in 3 2/3 innings as the Cardinals swept the Padres.


American League

EDDIE MURRAY, Cleveland Indians

Batted .385 in the three game sweep of the Red Sox.

In game 1 hit a go ahead single in the 8th. In game 2, his 2 run shot put the game away.In game 3, he singled twice, walked twice and scored twice in the clincher

EDGAR MARTINEZ, Seattle Mariners

Yes Griffey homered 5 times in 5 games and yes Big Unit won 2 of the Mariners 3 games against the Yankees… but it was Edgar Martinez’s grand slam that set up the mind boggling game 5… and it was Edgar Martinez’s 2 run double that won the series for the Mariners.

His numbers, .571 average, 1.000 slugging, an OPS of 1.667, 10 RBIs in 5 games, would merit the award even without his flair for the dramatic.

National League

CHIPPER JONES, Atlanta Braves

Marquis Grissom had gaudier numbers, but Jones’ home run won game 1 against the Rockies… and he seemed to be driving in runs or scoring runs in every big Braves rally in a series that was a lot closer than it had any business being.

 HAL MORRIS, Cincinnati Reds

Batted an even .500 in the three game sweep of the Dodgers.

He drove in the first 2 runs of a 4 run first inning outburst in game 1 that set the tone for the series.

Started the rally in the 6th inning of game 3 that knocked Nomo out of the game and put the game (and the series) out of reach.

And now for the MVPs for the 1981 Division Series held after the strike.
American League
OSCAR GAMBLE, New York Yankees

Gamble batted .556 with a 1.933 OPS in the 5 game victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. His homer off of Moose Haas tied Game 1.
Then in the clinching Game 5, Gamble homered off of Haas again to put the Yankees up for good, sending them back to the ALCS.

Billy Martin had his starters work out of their own jams… and his #2 starter got into a whopper of a jam against the Defending A.L. Champion Royals in Game 2.
Clinging to a 2-1 lead in the 8th, McCatty let the first two batters reach. Instead of going to the pen, Martin let McCatty face Amos Otis, Hal McRae and Clint Hurdle. He worked out of the jam and then finished his complete game victory giving the A’s a 2-0 series lead.
National League

With the Dodgers down 0-1 to the Astros, Reuss came up big in Game 2 throwing 9 shutout innings scattering 5 hits. Unfortunately for Reuss, Joe Niekro shut down the Dodgers as well and the Astros won it in 11 innings.
In the deciding Game 5, Reuss got the ball again. He threw 9 shutout innings again, but this time the Dodgers pulled off a 6th inning rally to take the lead. His complete game shutout clinched the series that he finished with 18 scoreless innings.

Rogers had the daunting task of facing the era’s best pitcher, Steve Carlton, in Game 1 of the Division Series. Rogers let up 10 hits but only 1 run over 8 2/3 innings to get the win.
In the do or die on the road Game 5 against the defending World Champs, Rogers was again matched up against Carlton.
He was up for the task, throwing a complete game shut out, getting Mike Schmidt, Gary Matthews and Manny Trillo out in order to clinch the series and end the Phillies’ dreams of repeating as World Champions.

Great Missed Opportunity: 2000 Chicago White Sox

White Sox

White Sox

Let’s take The Great Missed Opportunities series to the South Side of Chicago. The Chicago White Sox are an organization that had many lost chances over the generations.

Of course as all White Sox fans can tell you, THEY are the only Chicago baseball team to win a World Series in the last hundred years. The 2005 White Sox lost one single post season game en route to a rampage to the World Series title. Many from that squad returned for the 2008 Division Title as well. So much of the misery has been redeemed.

They could be the only team who we know for sure can blame themselves for one of their post season short comings: The 1919 squad famously threw the World Series against the Reds.

It was a terrible moment for baseball, but it DID yield two of the best movies about baseball, Eight Men Out and Field of Dreams.

In the decades following 1919, they had terrific teams that could not finish in first place. Between 1954 and 1965, the South Siders won 90 or more games six times, finishing in first place just once during that stretch.

The 1983 team lost a heartbreaking ALCS to the Orioles. 1993 saw the Sox fall just short in the ALCS against Toronto and a wonderful club had their pennant hopes crushed in 1994 by the strike.

According to my own ground rules for the Great Missed Opportunity Series, the honored team has to have played in the Wild Card era, which eliminates all of those teams (except perhaps 1994, but let’s let that slide.)

I almost picked the 2008 squad. If that team won it all after taking a one game playoff to win the Division, they would have championship team featuring Jim Thome and Ken Griffey Jr. Who wouldn’t have wanted to see that pair finally win a ring?

Also remember 2008 was the year that the Cubs had the best record in the National League and the 97 win squad had thoughts of breaking their own curse after seeing the Red Sox and White Sox exorcise long term demons. Winning a second title the year that Cubs fans were suffering the 100th anniversary of their last would have been a sweet if nasty victory on the South Side.

But the 2008 squad were not better than the Angels, Red Sox nor the eventual pennant champion Rays and were a long shot at best.

The team from 2000, however, was a solid squad featuring some of the all time greats in White Sox history. If they won it all that year, the White Sox would have had their most loved team ever.

The 1999 White Sox hovered around .500 until a series of midseason slumps pushed them into a losing record. They finished in second place behind Cleveland, but trailed by 21 1/2 games and were not contenders for manager Jerry Manuel.

Expectations for 2000 were not exactly sky high and the biggest off season move involved acquiring Jose Valentin and Cal Eldred from the Milwaukee Brewers.

Sporting News

Sporting News

But the team could hit, with Frank Thomas, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Lee and Ray Durham at the heart of their lineup. They also had a young prospect who got kicked around between the Dodgers and Reds organization before breaking through with a solid 1999 in Chicago. Little did anyone know that Paul Konerko would become an institution in the South Side.

The main questions were “could they pitch?” and  “could they beat Cleveland?”

Mike Sirotka, James Baldwin and Jim Parque all were clobbered in the starting rotation in 1999. Bob Howry was adequate as a closer, but set up man Keith Foulke put up better numbers.

The White Sox started 2000 with two straight losses, then a 4 game winning streak. Then they won 10 out of 11 games in mid April.

One of the games, played on April 22nd against the Tigers, featured 5 hit batters and a few bloodletting brawls.

16, count them, 16 players, coaches and managers were suspended and nine more were fined. It was not pretty but the White Sox were showing some fight, literally.


The White Sox pitching was holding its own. James Baldwin earned an All Star spot by starting the year 10-1 with a decent ERA. Jim Parque and Mike Sirotka were hardly Cy Young contenders but kept the White Sox in enough games to win. And Keith Foulke was developing into an elite closer.

Meanwhile the bats were explosive. Valentin was having one of his most productive seasons while Thomas, Ordonez, Kornerko and Lee gave the White Sox one of the most terrifying middle of the orders in baseball.

They had won 10 out of 12 games in early June and took a 2 game lead over the Indians when they went into Jacobs Field on June 12th for an early Divisional Showdown. In the first game, Frank Thomas launched a home run and the White Sox took an 8-3 lead over the five time defending Division Champs. The Tribe crept back and made it a one run game in the 9th. With the bases loaded and only one out, Cleveland was a single from victory and pulling to within a game. Instead Foulke got Sandy Alomar Jr. to hit into a game ending double play.

The White Sox would go on to sweep the Indians. They went to New York to play the back to back World Champion Yankees. They swept all four games, scoring in double digits in 3 of the 4 contests. Chicago was for real.

By the middle of the season, no opponent seemed to intimidate the overachieving club. They took 2 of 3 at home from the Yankees and swept the Red Sox. A rough six game road trip in August against the contending Mariners and A’s yielded 4 wins.



And at the end of July, an old friend returned to the South Side. 41 year old Harold Baines was acquired along with Charles Johnson from Baltimore to give the team a boost down the stretch. Baines was playing in his 13th season on his third tour for the White Sox. One of the most loved players in franchise history and a key member of the 1983 Division Champion, Baines might have arrived in time to cash in a World Series title.

On September 25th, the Indians lost a game to the Royals and the White Sox clinched the Division Title, their first since 1993 and the 1994 strike season.

Their 95 wins was the highest total in the American League, who had homefield advantage in the World Series. The two time defending champion Yankees finished the season with a horrific slump and the pennant was up for grabs.

The Indians and their 90 wins were on the outside of the playoffs looking in. The A’s and Mariners each had 91 wins. But the White Sox felt like the pennant and possibly the title was theirs for the taking.

In the first Division Series game against Alex Rodriguez and the Wild Card Mariners, the White Sox fell behind quickly at home 3-0 after two innings. But the White Sox fought back. Ray Durham’s homer and a Magglio Ordonez RBI triple gave Chicago a 4-3 lead in the third. Jim Parque held the lead through 6.

In the top of the 7th with 2 outs and the bases loaded, Mike Cameron singled to right. The tying run scored but Ordonez threw out the go ahead run at the plate to end the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, Charles Johnson hit a lead off single and the White Sox were an RBI from taking a 1-0 series lead. They got two runners on but Ordonez flew out to end the inning.

Edgar Martinez and John Olerud clobbered back to back homers off of Foulke in the 10th and the Mariners won by that margin.

The White Sox began Game 2 with back to back doubles and an early 1-0 lead, seemingly shaking the extra inning loss off of their shoulders. But again, the game became a back and forth affair.

Mike Sirotka coughed up the lead in the second inning only to see the White Sox tie it in the third. Jay Buhner of the Mariners answered with a go ahead homer in the 4th. Seattle starter Paul Abbott settled down and the Mariner bullpen shut down White Sox rallies in the 6th and 7th. Seattle won 5-2 and took a 2-0 lead to the Pacific Northwest.

Facing a shockingly fast elimination, the White Sox trusted the season on James Baldwin, who slumped badly after an All Star worthy start.

He was up for the challenge, letting up just 3 hits and 1 run over 6 innings. One of those hits was a 2 out RBI infield groundout by Stan Javier that tied the game 1-1.

Mariners starter Aaron Sele pitched into the 8th and kept the score 1-1.

In the bottom of the 9th, John Olerud singled off of Kelly Wunsch and took second on an error. No one less than Rickey Henderson was used as a pinch runner. Chicago manager Jerry Manuel used Foulke to try and get out of the potential season ending jam. With Henderson on third and one out, Carlos Guillen dragged a bunt that scored the series winning run, ending all White Sox dreams of a title in 2000.

With all the new post season blood in 2000, it was the slumping Yankees who would emerge victorious in the end. They beat the upstart A’s and the youthful Mariners to force a Subway Series against the Mets.

The 2000 White Sox fell into post season obscurity. Durham, Ordonez, Foulke and Baldwin would all soon be playing elsewhere. Baines would retire after the 2001 season. Manuel would give way to Ozzie Guillen.

Eventually the White Sox would win the World Series in 2005 and Konerko, Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland from the 2000 team got their rings.

Frank Thomas would get a ring as well, but injuries kept him to fewer than 20 games that year and he was sidelined for the post season.

Baines would get a ring as the team’s first base coach.

But the 2000 team would have been a wonderful combination of old heroes and future icons. The team could have taken the first crown of the 2000’s with their greatest slugger (Thomas) and beloved star (Baines) contributing on the field.

And they would have done so for a city that saw the Bulls dismantled and the Bears, Blackhawks and Cubs all under performing. The White Sox had a chance to be THE team of the city and Frank Thomas would have had his crowning achievement.

With a hit here or there in Games 1 and 3, the White Sox would have been in a position to move on. Instead, every bounce seemed to go the Mariners way and the White Sox walked off the field in Seattle dejected.

White Sox fans would have to wait another 5 seasons, which in the grand scheme of Chicago sports, isn’t that much time.

But the chance to start a new century with the greatest slugger in the team’s history hoisting the World Series trophy was a great missed opportunity.

10 Reasons why the Detroit Tigers winning the 2011 World Series would be good for baseball

The Tigers dramatic win on Saturday and blow out win last night put them front and center on my baseball mind today. This team could very well be warming up to a long October run and be a real potential World Series winner. Now is as good a time as any to do the Detroit entry for the Why Each Team’s Potential World Championship Would Be Good For The Game series.

Recently the AL Central winner has been an after thought at best in the post season. The last three Central teams have won a combined one post season GAME in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

But a combination of big bats, a great manager and a world beating ace could put an AL Central entry in the ALCS for the first time since the 2007 Indians, in the World Series for the first time since the 2006 Tigers or join the 2005 White Sox as the second ever champ from the Division.

Why would a fan outside of Michigan want to see a title in Motown? I have a few reasons.

10 Reasons why the
Detroit Tigers
winning the 2011 World Series
would be good for baseball

1. A Tiger title would put Jim Leyland among the elite managers in history

I already think Jim Leyland belongs in the Hall of Fame, and not just because he looks like a baseball manager sent from Central Casting. He has pennants in both leagues, a World Series title and turned around three franchises. But a World Series title in both leagues would put him with Sparky Anderson and Tony LaRussa as the only ones to pull off that feat.

Plus a title in Detroit would be probably be less bittersweet than his ring: The soon to be dismantled 1997 Florida Marlins.

2. Another title helps put Dave Dombrowski back among the elites.

Dombrowski doesn’t look that old until you have him stand next to all the young GMs around baseball today. I suppose he would have to be considered part of the “Old School.” While Brad Pitt isn’t about to play him in a movie any time soon, he was the 31 year old GM who helped assemble a very talented Expos team. Then slapped together a World Champion in Florida and made sure that when it was dismantled, solid players came back in return. Many of the 2003 World Champion Marlins were acquired by Dombrowski. Then he turned around a disastrous Tigers team. As more and more GMs get Hall of Fame consideration, a Detroit title could put Dombrowski in Cooperstown.

3. A ring for baseball lifer Gene Lamont.

Lamont has put in 47 years of his life to professional baseball. He’s been a player, minor league coach and manager and been a loyal lieutenant to Jim Leyland for many seasons.

He also won manager of the year in 1993 leading the White Sox to the ALCS and later managed the Pirates. Oddly he hasn’t been hired as a manager since.

He was managing in the Royals organization in 1985, so I think he may have a ring from that year. Let’s drop the “I think” and get him a big league ring. He’s put in the time.

4. A title would put a positive spotlight on Miguel Cabrera.

Cabrera has had far too many negative headlines over the last few seasons, mainly about his fight with alcohol. Hopefully he is battling those demons. What he brings to the field is nothing short of extraordinary. Year in and year out he puts up MVP caliber numbers. The players that Baseball Reference compares him to at this age are people like Frank Robinson, Ken Griffey Jr, Orlando Cepeda, Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron. In other words he is a Hall of Famer if he can keep his life together.

Another shot of October glory could help cement a potential wonderful legacy. He won a title in 2003 with Florida. (Doesn’t it seem like EVERYONE in Detroit also won in Florida? For the record, Tigers pitcher Brad Penny also has a Florida ring!)

5. An overdue ring for Carlos Guillen

Guillen hasn’t been much of a factor this season other than getting into a spat with Angels pitcher Jered Weaver. But he’s had a nice 13+ season career with memorable highlights (a Division Series ending walk off bunt for the Mariners in 200… a 1.625 OPS in Detroit’s 2006 Division Series victory over the Yankees.) And he has shown toughness (coming back from Tuberculosis to play in the 2001 ALCS) and will someday be a big league coach or manager.

He has been underrated his whole career, despite a few All Star appearances and a top 10 MVP finish in 2006. Players like Guillen deserve a title.

6. The National Anthem as sung by Eminem

I don’t care about or listen to rap. But even I would be curious to hear Marshall Bruce Mathers III do his rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.

Oh yeah, there are lots of Motown artists who will no doubt make their dutiful appearance. But nobody will get Slim Shady’s press.

7. A Tiger championship would make Mike Illitch the greatest figure in Detroit since Henry Ford.

When Little Caesar’s founder Mike Illitch took over the Detroit Red Wings in 1982, the team hadn’t played in a Stanley Cup Final since 1966 and hadn’t won since 1955. Under his ownership they won the Cup in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008 and made 2 other Finals appearances.

When he took over the Tigers from Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan in 1992, the team was in flux. This year a fifth title in Detroit from a Mike Illitch team could be won.

If they win, maybe he should sell the Tigers and buy the Lions.

8. A World Series title could cement Justin Verlander’s legacy at age 28.

He has already been a Rookie of the Year, an All Star and a Cy Young contender. He will no doubt win the Cy Young this season and having passed the 100 win mark at a young age, he is a legit candidate to someday pass 300.

All his legacy needs is a World Series title and good health and we might be seeing a Hall of Famer emerging. In the post Steroid era, a new generation of ace pitchers are dominating and doing so into October. Last year Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee left their indelible marks. Now it is Verlander’s turn.

9. A new Tigers championship would help celebrate their underrated legacy

When you think of the great winning baseball franchises, chances are most wouldn’t list the Tigers. But go back and look at the great teams and titles they have won and you’d be surprised what a great history they had.

A quick glance at my Homegrown vs. Acquired entry for the Tigers shows Hall of Famers like Hank Greenberg, Ty Cobb, Charlie Gehringer, Heinie Manush, Harry Heilmann, Jim Bunning, Hal Newhouser, Mickey Cochrane, George Kell, Sam Crawford and Goose Goslin, whose walk off single clinched the Tigers first ever World Series title. They would the World Series in the 1930s, 1940s, 1960s and 1980s.

They would feature one of the game’s greatest characters with Mark Fidrych. They would have a mind bogglingly deep team in 1984 who got off to a dizzyingly amazing start led by the future Hall of Fame manager, Sparky Anderson. Then they won it all, going 7-1 in the post season.

The Tigers won a heart stopping Division race in 1972 and again in 1987. And won the 2006 pennant on a walk off homer by Magglio Ordonez.

Tiger fans of all generations have had remarkable highlights. But it has been 27 years since they have won it all. It is time for a new generation of Tiger fans to have THEIR title.

10. No city could use a moment to celebrate more than Detroit

It’s no secret that Detroit has had a rough few decades. The city has become worse than a punch line. It has become a symbol of pity for much of the country, which no doubt is the biggest insult of all.

It will take a lot to have Detroit reach its glory days as a city. But everyone I know from Detroit has a real pride in their city and hope and trust that better days are coming. A World Series title could bring the city closer together and show the country that there is still something positive in the Motor City. Sure there have been recent titles by the Pistons and the Red Wings. But the desire for a Tiger title is palpable, and hard to root against.

It’s a real possibility this year in Detroit. Verlander is having one of those “I dare you to try and beat me” seasons and the lineup is strong enough to score runs in bunches. They could win it all and have everyone in Michigan say “Bless you boys.”

And that’s not a bad thing.

If you liked this then go ahead and read the entries for the other teams.