One of the many joys of baseball's postseason is how one player can make such an outsized difference. There's no better time for a player to go on a hot streak than in the playoffs, when he's able to carry his team for a whole series -- maybe even to a championship. Baseball is a game of ebbs and flows, of zeniths and nadirs, and everyone wants to break out and have a heater in October.
With that in mind, we look at the greatest postseason runs by a player on each of baseball's 30 teams. These are the sort of streaks that make legends in their hometowns ... the sort of runs we'll talk about forever.
Note: We're sticking to the divisional era here, which goes back to 1969, and is the dawn of the modern postseason.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Paul Molitor, 1993
.447/.527/.851, World Series MVP
Everyone remembers the Joe Carter homer, but Molitor was a monster that whole postseason for the Blue Jays at the age of 37. He was terrific back in 1982 for the Brewers, too.
Orioles: Brooks Robinson, 1970
.485/.471/.788, World Series MVP
This was, of course, the same World Series in which he made the ridiculous play at third base … though with Robinson, it's always a question of which ridiculous play.
Rays: James Shields, 2008
2-2, 25 IP, 2.88 ERA
This is where the "Big Game James" nickname came from, even if it maybe lasted a year or two longer than it should have.
Red Sox: David Ortiz, 2004
.400/.515/.764, ALCS MVP
It's rather difficult, all told, to figure out which Ortiz postseason to pick: He had an OPS over 1.204 in October for all three of the Red Sox championship teams he played for.
Yankees: Reggie Jackson, 1978
The highest qualified OPS by Yankees are, in fact, 2018 Aaron Judge and 2006 Derek Jeter ... but how do you not pick Mr. October?
Indians: Orel Hershiser, 1995
4-1, 35 1/3 IP, 1.53 ERA, ALCS MVP
The season with the other Indians' World Series loss -- no, the other one -- featured vintage Hershiser ... and he split a couple of duels with Greg Maddux in the World Series, too.
Royals: Danny Jackson, 1985
2-1, 26 IP, 1.04 ERA
Bret Saberhagen is remembered as the hero of this Royals team -- along with Don Denkinger, of course -- but Jackson was actually the best pitcher for the Royals that postseason.
Tigers: Alan Trammell, 1984
.419/.500/.806, World Series MVP
Trammell put the perfect capper on the Tigers' dream season. This was a quiet argument for Trammell's Hall of Fame candidacy.
Twins: Jack Morris, 1991
4-0, 36 1/3 IP, 2.23 ERA, World Series MVP
Speaking of the Hall of Fame ... this postseason is almost certainly why Morris currently has a plaque in Cooperstown.
White Sox: Jermaine Dye, 2005
.311/.415/.444, World Series MVP
Several White Sox players had a higher OPS than Dye that postseason -- including Joe Crede, Scott Podsednik and Paul Konerko -- but you've got to go with the World Series MVP.
Angels: Francisco Rodriguez, 2002
5-1, 18 2/3 IP, 1.93 ERA
Back when there were more rigid bullpen roles, K-Rod was deployed liberally and devastatingly in 2002, back when he was 20 years old.
Astros: Carlos Beltran, 2004
Cardinals fans will be having nightmares about 2004 Carlos Beltran for decades to come ... and they won that series.
Athletics: Dave Stewart, 1989
4-0, 32 IP, 2.25 ERA, World Series MVP
Stewart had a career 2.77 postseason ERA in 133 innings ... he would actually win the ALCS MVP the very next season, too.
Mariners: Ken Griffey Jr., 1995
Jay Buhner was just as good as The Kid in 1995 ... but Griffey is Griffey.
Rangers: Juan Gonzalez, 1996
The Rangers actually lost this Division Series in four games, but good heavens, was Juan Gone ever a monster, hitting five homers in four games.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves: John Smoltz, 1996
4-1, 38 IP, 0.95 ERA
You could also go with Greg Maddux's 1995 run -- since the Braves won the World Series that year, after all -- and you wouldn't be wrong.
Marlins: Josh Beckett, 2003
2-2, 42 2/3 IP, 2.11 ERA, World Series MVP
After the Yankees and Red Sox had their first of two epic postseason battles, Beckett was happy to pick up the pieces in the World Series.
Mets: Bobby Ojeda, 1986
2-0, 27 IP, 2.33 ERA
Of all the great Mets starters on that team, it was Ojeda who had the best postseason.
Nationals: Stephen Strasburg, 2017
1-1, 14 IP, 0.00 ERA
Since we're excluding the Expos -- if we weren't, Steve Rogers in 1981 would be the obvious answer here -- we must dig into the gruesome land of the Nationals' postseason failures. Strasburg has the ultimate Nationals playoff line: 0 earned runs, 1 loss.
Phillies: Cliff Lee, 2009
4-0, 40 1/3 IP, 1.56 ERA
Cole Hamels had the World Series MVP in '08, but Lee was actually better, in five more innings.
Brewers: Ryan Braun, 2011
This postseason performance feels like a lifetime ago, but it's one the Brewers sure would appreciate a repeat of.
Cardinals: David Freese, 2011
.397/.465/.794, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
Freese actually struggled in the NLDS this season ... though he ended up making up for it.
Cubs: Jonathan Lester, 2016
3-1, 35 2/3 IP, 2.02 ERA, NLCS co-MVP
Lester still feels like the postseason starter Cubs fans trust most, and probably always will.
Pirates: Willie Stargell, 1979
.415/.435/.927, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
He also shared the regular-season MVP Award this year, pulling off the rare trifecta.
Reds: Johnny Bench, 1976
.444/.464/.926, World Series MVP
Bench was as dominant as the Reds were in this matter-of-fact World Series sweep.
D-backs: Curt Schilling, 2001
4-0, 48 1/3 IP, 1.12 ERA, World Series co-MVP
Randy Johnson's line this exact 2001 postseason: 5-1, 41 1/3 IP, 1.52 ERA. That is ... difficult to beat.
Dodgers: Hershiser, 1988
3-0, 1 SV, 42 2/3 IP, 1.05 ERA, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
Hershiser is the only pitcher to be on this list twice ... and how could he not be?
Giants: Madison Bumgarner, 2014
4-1, 1 SV, 52 2/3 IP, 1.03 ERA, NLCS MVP, World Series MVP
This is an obvious pick, but at this point I'd like to remind you that Barry Bonds put up a .356/.581/.978 in 2002.
Padres: Sterling Hitchcock, 1998
3-0, 22 IP, 1.23 ERA, NLCS MVP
He gave up only one earned run in six innings in his lone World Series start ... not that it did the Padres much good.
Rockies: Kaz Matsui, 2007
It was a strange postseason for the Rockies in 2007, but if you forget the World Series happened altogether, it was a glorious one.