Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon


MLB News

Players in the Postseason: #WinorGoHome #ItsBlackandWhite (Oct. 30)

Updated: Oct. 30

The Trivia

Updated: Oct. 30

The Trivia

This player started playing T-ball at 4 years old, and continued playing through his childhood. He thinks his mom chose the right sport for him, because he was hyperactive and always running around the house. According to his mom, the leadership qualities have been there since Little League. Although he was an infielder then, he still showed the same qualities as he does now from behind the plate. Who is he?

The super hero

Down two games to none in the World Series, the Mets could use a super hero. Luckily, they have a guy they call "Thor" pitching, and he possesses the fastest fastball in all of baseball. Six-foot-six rookie sensation Noah Syndergaard gets the ball for Game 3 at Citi Field in New York on Friday at 8:07 p.m. ET (FOX) with the tall task of stopping the relentless Royals.

The 23-year-old right-hander's fastball averaged 97.1 mph, according to STATS, Inc., the highest average velocity for anyone who threw more than 150 innings. In the postseason, Syndergaard has topped 100 mph 22 times and topped out at 101 mph.

In two starts and a relief appearance, Syndergaard has a 2.77 ERA in 13 postseason innings, allowing 14 base runners and striking out 20 batters. But none of those batters were Royals, who have struck out just 10 times over the first 23 innings of this World Series.

"This team likes the fastball," said ALCS MVP Alcides Escobar.

The Royals' pitcher and the Mets' cold bats

Royals starter Yordano Ventura, whose average fastball velocity is only a tick below Syndergaard's, finished the season strong, going 7-1 with a 2.38 ERA over his final 11 starts.

The 24-year-old Dominican right-hander hasn't made it out of the sixth inning in his four postseason starts, posting a 5.09 ERA, but the Mets' bats have turned cold.

The Mets have scored just twice in two games and are batting .165 as a team with 19 strikeouts. David Murphy, who had been the postseason's hottest hitter through the first two rounds, is just 2-for-9 with two walks over the first two games.

The velocity

There's no question pitchers are throwing harder than ever.

The New York Times reports that "nearly one of every 10 pitches was 95 mph or faster, almost twice the rate from just eight years ago."

That means batters faced more than 60,000 pitches above 95 mph this season.

Four Mets pitchers and two Royals pitchers were among the 20 pitchers who threw the most pitches over 95 mph this season. Syndergaard, who regularly throws in the 98 to 100 mph range, was second in the Majors to the Pirates' Gerrit Cole, throwing 1,421 pitches above 95 mph even though he didn't make his debut until May. The Mets' Jeurys Familia and the Royals' Kelvin Herrera were among the five relievers in the top 20.

The agony of defeat

Coming soooooo very close before losing to the Giants in seven games in last year's World Series is serving as motivation for the Royals this October.

"It was terrible," Eric Hosmer told the New York Post. "Something you don't really ever get over. You come so close and you realize how hard it is to get to the World Series, just to get to the postseason, and you come one game short of the ultimate goal, to win a world championship. It's devastating."

The painful memory seared into their brains during last offseason and provided impetus from Spring Training on in 2015.

"I know what everyone felt at the end of that game," Lorenzo Cain said. "No one took it well, and going into the offseason, no one took it well … But you see guys were focused from Day 1 of Spring Training when they showed up with one goal: to get back to the World Series. Now we're here, we have to go and finish it."

After winning an AL-best 95 games and winning the Central Division and making it through the first two rounds of the postseason, the Royals are now back on the brink.

"Opportunities like this don't come too often so you've got to make the most of it," Hosmer said.

The natural (golfer)

There are apparently only two golf courses in all of Cuba, so Yoenis Cespedes is making up for lost time since coming to the United States.

Teammate Jon Niese, one of his frequent partners, has played some of the New York City area's best courses -- Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point and Liberty National -- with the slugging outfielder and came away impressed by his still-raw talent.

"He's self-taught, which is the most incredible thing. If he got lessons on his drive, he could be on the PGA Tour," Niese told the Wall Street Journal, noting that Cespedes still has trouble keeping the ball on tighter fairways.

Hitting coach Kevin Long believes golfing on game days helps Cespedes work off excess energy, leaving him a little more relaxed at game time. And the results this season are hard to dispute: Playing first for the Tigers, then the Mets, he hit a combined 35 home runs with 105 RBIs and a .542 slugging percentage, all career highs.

"For me, golf is sort of like when I go fishing," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "I just forget any problem that I have, anything that's troubling me, and I just worry about what's at hand and enjoy it."

The battle of the book worms

This postseason marks the first in baseball history in which public libraries have joined the fray on social media.

First the Toronto library and the Kansas City library had a throw-down on Twitter during the ALCS. Now the New York City and Queens libraries are both going book-to-book with Kansas City's library during the World Series with tweets like this one.

The Kansas City Star has more.

The Trivia Answer

Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals

Follow us @MLB_Players and to catch our postseason social media series, titled #WinOrGoHome #ItsBlackandWhite, featuring some up-close photos courtesy of Getty Sports.