In the contending teams’ scramble for a postseason berth, it is usually the stars who get a lot of the spotlight, in their own quest for individual awards. But it takes a full roster to get to October.
Here, we present eight players who, while not the center of attention, could make a difference down the stretch.
Astros: Chas McCormick, OF
Key fact: +7 outs above average
After the Astros sent Myles Straw to Cleveland, McCormick took over center field full time. And he has done nothing but impress early in his career, hitting .333 with an .845 OPS in 19 games from the trade deadline until he went on the disabled list Tuesday in pain in the back. left hand. The Astros needed speed after Straw’s departure, and McCormick has filled that void perfectly. He has been by far the fastest player on the team, with an average sprint speed of 28.9 feet per second, 1.1 short of what is considered elite. Quietly, he’s becoming a five-tool player on a favorite team.
Athletics: Andrew Chafin, LZ
Key fact: xwOBA against .260
The Athletics acquired Chafin before the deadline from the Cubs, with whom he had a 2.06 ERA in 43 games. The 31-year-old reliever has allowed just two runs in 13 games with Oakland, striking out close to one opponent per inning and giving up a total of two walks so far. Plus, he brings balance to Oakland’s bullpen; Jake Diekman was the only left-hander with more than 15 innings pitched. The acquisition was overshadowed by the one made by Starling Marte, but the Athletics got just what they needed in their quest for the Western crown.
White Sox: Adam Engel, OF
Key data: + 8.1% strong hits, 2020-2021
Engel, who has always been known for his speed, has started to find his rhythm at the plate in the past two seasons. The 29-year-old patrolman has an OPS of .829 since the start of 2020. This year, Engel is destroying right pitch. Despite being a right-handed hitter, Engel is slugging .505 against pitchers with the same hand, with seven home runs and six doubles in just over 100 at-bats. If the bat is unresponsive, it has its speed to contribute to the team, with an average sprint speed of 29.7 feet per second.
Rays: Matt Wisler, RHP
Key fact: .288 xSLG against its sliders
Wisler came to the Giants in early June with an unremarkable 6.05 ERA. But since joining the Rays, he has become one of the best relievers in the majors, with a 1.98 ERA in 27.1 innings. This year, he is in the 10th percentile of all pitchers in rate of hard hits allowed, expected ERA and strikeout rate. How can a pitcher who has a career 4.80 ERA be so dominant now? Wisler totally modified his arsenal before the 2019 season and now almost exclusively throws sliders, 90% of the time. It seems to work for him, with opponents hitting just .206 against that pitching since his arrival in Tampa.
Giants: Tyler Rogers, RHP
Key fact: 62.8% ground ball rate
The truth is, almost every Giants reliever could be on this list, but Rogers may be the one who stands out the most from the group. If it is not the best, it is definitely the least conventional. Rogers is last in the majors averaging 82.5 miles per hour on his four-seam fastball, but his undersea throwing style makes him one of the most dominant relievers in the sport. He has a 1.89 ERA and 12 saves in 62 games on the year. It has allowed four hits “barrels” among more than 180 connections that have been made in the year, with a ticket rate below 4%.
Dodgers: Alex Vesia, LZ
Key fact: 0 hits allowed off pitches other than fastball
After a “cup of coffee” with the Marlins last year, Vesia has been a solid member of the Dodgers bullpen amid the team’s many injuries. Vesia has a WHIP below 0.85 and an ERA better than 2.50, while being just as effective against hitters from both hands. He throws the four-seam fastball 75% of the time and seems to do well with that, with opponents hitting just .134. Although he dominates with the fastball, his secondary pitches have been just as effective, allowing no hits against his slider and change all year, with a strikeout rate of 34%.
Brewers: Tyrone Taylor, OF
Key fact: .834 OPS against left-handed hitters
After two years jumping between the minors and majors, Taylor has established himself with a spot in Milwaukee this season. He has looked solid on defense and decent at the plate. Maybe that’s just what the Brewers need in October. This year, Taylor is hitting .284 with an .834 OPS against lefties, an area they have struggled with in Milwaukee. As a team, they have a .237 average and a .727 OPS; both numbers are among the worst in the majors. Taylor won’t be the solution to all your problems, but he could be of great importance.
Phillies: Ranger Suarez, LZ
Key fact: 30.6% strong hits against
The Phillies need pitchers who can work multiple innings if they are to stay afloat in the fight for the NL East, but so far they haven’t been able to figure out the formula. Once August began, they bowed to Suarez as the opener, but they have gradually increased their innings, with the Venezuelan throwing a season high of 99 pitches on August 24. In five starts, the southpaw has allowed five runs in 21.1 innings, improving his ERA to a minuscule 1.46. Suarez has shone all year from the bullpen, ranking among the best when it comes to limiting average exit velocity and power hits, but now his value has increased and he could be what the Phillies need down the stretch, depending How deep I can go in the games