2020 MLB Playoffs: 5 players who need to step up

Profile Picture: Robert Criscola

September 28th, 2020

The 2020 MLB postseason begins Tuesday, and there are plenty of familiar names gearing up for another shot at the World Series in this 16-team field. Here are five players that have struggled in previous playoff appearances that need to step up in 2020.

5. Matt Olson

It’s a small sample size, but the A’s were sent packing in consecutive winner-take-all Wild Card games in part because first baseman Matt Olson didn’t do what he does best – hit home runs. Olson is a combined 1-for-5 in those two postseason games with three walks. The team leader in longballs for two straight years (14 in 2020, 36 in 2019) needs to deliver if Oakland’s going anywhere this postseason.

4. Freddie Freeman

Freddie Freeman had another outstanding campaign at the plate in 2020, batting .341 while leading the majors in doubles (23) and runs (51). But his bat has been relatively quiet during the Braves’ last two playoff appearances: 8-for-36 (.222) with two home runs is far below Freeman’s expected output.

3. Yu Darvish

Even if Yu Darvish wins his first career Cy Young Award, it will not erase his poor postseason record. His overall playoff record is a ghastly 2-4 with a 5.81 ERA. He was hit hard by Houston in the 2017 World Series, lasting just 3 1/3 total innings through two starts and surrendering eight runs while producing a 3.300 WHIP.

2. Giancarlo Stanton

It’s no secret that Giancarlo Stanton has not lived up to the seven-year, $218 million deal he signed with the Yankees in 2018. And much like his last two regular seasons, Stanton’s last two playoff appearances have been subpar and riddled by injury. In 34 total at-bats, the 2017 NL MVP has hit an uninspiring .235 with just two homers.

1. Clayton Kershaw

Apologists are running out of excuses for Clayton Kershaw’s postseason record. While it’s indisputable that Kershaw will go down as an all-time great on the strength of three career Cy Youngs and an MVP Award, his playoff performances have simply not been up to snuff. He’s 9-11 in 32 postseason performances (25 starts) with a 4.33 ERA, belying his career record of 175-76 with a 2.43 ERA (6-2, 2.16 ERA in 2020).

If Kershaw could pitch in the playoffs like he does in the regular season, it stands to reason that the Dodgers would have already won at least one World Series during their current streak of eight straight NL West titles.

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