The final regular-season series begin on Monday with both Wild Card spots very much up for grabs. Boston and Atlanta each hold one-game advantages over Tampa Bay and St. Louis, respectively, with three games left to play. For these four clubs, the playoffs started a couple of weeks ago, but this three-game stretch will ultimately decide if the previous 159 games were worth playing in a quest for a championship.
Each of the four series is a division battle, and the key players for the Red Sox, Rays, Braves and Cardinals have had a large number of plate appearances to adequately gauge how their teams’ offensive stars will fare in the final three days before the postseason.
Key Hitters PA Slash Line HR RBI R SB XBH Ellsbury vs BAL 73 .424/.466/.712 4 11 15 1 10 Pedroia vs BAL 72 .338/.403/.600 3 14 18 2 10 Longoria vs NYY 62 .241/.339/.407 2 6 6 0 5 Zobrist vs NYY 51 .293/.412/.512 2 7 6 2 4 McCann vs PHI 58 .196/.293/.294 1 3 3 0 3 Uggla vs PHI 62 .161/.242/.375 3 6 8 0 6 Pujols vs HOU 50 .261/.320/.478 2 7 8 1 6 Berkman vs HOU 31 .429/.484/1.036 5 12 6 0 7
As you can see, the two Red Sox MVP candidates have torn up Baltimore pitching, and Boston may survive after all. Even if they falter, Tampa Bay’s star players will come into their series against Yankee backups having struggled against New York all season.
Philadelphia will try to do its best to hold the pitching-strong Braves out of the postseason, and stars Brian McCann and Dan Uggla have to break out of their respective funks against the NL East champs. The Cardinals and their stars have done extremely well offensively against the feeble Houston pitching staff this season, especially former Astro Lance Berkman.
If the performances of these eight hitting stars are any indication of this week’s outcomes, the Red Sox and Redbirds could very well be moving on for some October baseball, leaving the Rays out and the Braves crushed by their stretch run downfall.