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Rad October! Playoff teams' talents go deep

Marquee names and up-and-coming stars ready for the October stage
October 1, 2017

The postseason is officially upon us, and the 10-team field features six division winners that were all popular preseason picks (Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals, Astros, Indians and Red Sox) and four Wild Card clubs that caught a lot of us off-guard (Yankees, Twins, D-backs, Rockies). It is, then, a healthy mix

The postseason is officially upon us, and the 10-team field features six division winners that were all popular preseason picks (Dodgers, Cubs, Nationals, Astros, Indians and Red Sox) and four Wild Card clubs that caught a lot of us off-guard (Yankees, Twins, D-backs, Rockies). It is, then, a healthy mix that reminds us the beauty of the well-built ballclub that lives up to its potential and also the entrance of the out-of-nowhere entrant.
Dress for October: Get postseason gear
In advance of the Wild Card round taking place Tuesday in the Bronx (8 p.m. ET, ESPN) and Wednesday in Arizona (8 p.m. ET, TBS), here's a look at some of the stars and stats that have aligned to bring these 10 teams to October. We'll (somehow) limit ourselves to three premier players from each club and one overall number you need to know.
Postseason schedule
Clayton Kershaw, LHP: More than half of his career postseason earned runs allowed (25 of 45) can be traced back to just six of his 89 postseason innings pitched. Focus on big samples, not small! Kershaw also lowered his ERA in '17 for a staggering ninth consecutive season.

Justin Turner, 3B:Corey Seager will be a force for the foreseeable future and Cody Bellinger had a rookie year for the ages, but it's the 32-year-old Turner who led the Dodgers in Weighted Runs Created Plus (150) this season.

Kenley Jansen, RHP: He notched 15.6 strikeouts for every walk issued this season (109 to seven). Only reliever in modern era with at least 65 innings who had a K/BB ratio that high was Dennis Eckersley (18.25) in 1990.

Sound smart with your friends: 104 -- Dodgers' win total was their highest since moving to L.A. and trails only 1953 (105) in franchise history.
Corey Kluber, RHP: His 1.62 ERA going back to June 1 is the best among qualified pitchers by 0.86.

Jose Ramirez, 2B: Tied Giancarlo Stanton for the most extra-base hits (91) in the Majors this season. Also, his 44.4 hard-hit percentage (95+ mph exit velocity) since the start of the Indians' 22-game winning streak was the best in baseball.

Francisco Lindor, SS: Hit 33 homers in a season before turning 24. How rare is that for a shortstop? Alex Rodriguez is the only other one to do it.

Sound smart with your friends: Plus-254 -- the Indians' run differential, which was the best in MLB by 56 runs.
Jose Altuve, 2B: The only two players this century with a higher road batting average than Altuve's .381 mark this season were Ichiro Suzuki (.405) in 2004 and Barry Bonds (.386) in 2002.

Justin Verlander, RHP: Vintage Verlander arrived with the late-season move to the Astros. He tied for the most swinging strikes on four-seam fastballs by a starting pitcher in September with 41. Opponents hit just .155 off the pitch that month.

Carlos Correa, SS: His 45.7-percent hard-hit rate (95+ mph exit velocity) was the highest among shortstops this season.

Sound smart with your friends: 896 -- The Astros' run total was the highest in baseball by 38 and the most by any team since the 2009 world champion Yankees (915).
Bryce Harper, RF: The Nationals scored 24.1 percent fewer runs per game (4.1 instead of 5.4) in 46 games without him (hyperextended left knee) in the lineup. So yes, he's an impact player.

Max Scherzer, RHP: Baseball's king of poor contact in 2017. His opponents' .175 expected batting average and .242 expected weighted on-base average were the lowest among those with at least 500 batters faced.

Anthony Rendon, 3B: Call him the spoiler. Among those with at least 250 swings on two-strike pitches, Rendon's percentage put in play or fouled off (89.7) is the highest in the game. It's tough to blow one by him.

Sound smart with your friends: 3.36 -- bullpen ERA since the trade for Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle on July 16. It had been 5.27 previously.
Red Sox
Chris Sale, LHP: Among Sale's MLB-leading 308 strikeouts, 155 came on fastballs and 134 came on sliders. That's called a varied portfolio.

Craig Kimbrel, RHP: His rate of 16.4 strikeouts per nine innings was the highest among those with at least 40 innings pitched this year and the third-highest all-time behind 2014 Albertin Chapman (17.7) and … 2012 Kimbrel (16.7).

Mookie Betts, RF: Saw an offensive decline from his AL MVP runner-up season in 2016, but still had tremendous value in part because he notched the third-most four- and five-star catches in the game (23) this season.

Sound smart with your friends: 17 -- wins when tied or trailing after eight innings, the most in MLB this season.
Kristopher Bryant, 3B: His wRC+ mark (147) was virtually identical to his MVP year in 2016 (148), and his wOBA (.400) was even better (.396).

Anthony Rizzo, 1B: 91 walks, 90 strikeouts. The only other players this season with at least 90 walks who struck out fewer times than they walked were Michael Trout (94 and 90) and Joey Votto (134 and 83).

Willson Contreras, C: A stud at the plate but don't lose sight of his impact behind it. He led all catchers in average arm strength on maximum effort throws at 87.2 mph.

Sound smart with your friends: .671 -- Cubs' second-half winning percentage was best in the NL and trailed only that of the Indians (.733).
J.D. Martinez, RF: Has homered once every eight at-bats as a D-back. His 29 Arizona homers shattered the record for most homers by a player for his new team when being dealt on or after July 1 (Mark McGwire hit 24 for the Cardinals in 1997).

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B: You want well-rounded? Goldy was the first player in a decade to have at least 35 homers, a .400 on-base percentage and 18 stolen bases (A-Rod, 2007).

Zack Greinke, RHP: So much for those early season concerns about declined velocity. Greinke induced the seventh-lowest rate of poor contact (70.0 percent) on offspeed pitches (minimum 150 batted balls) this season.

Sound smart with your friends: 10 -- number of D-backs players with 10 home runs, making Arizona one of only four NL clubs in history to achieve this feat (1999 and 2000 Reds, 2017 Mets).
Aaron Judge, RF: The first rookie to hit 50 homers in a season (he finished with 52) also notched an MLB-high 94.9 average exit velocity, 54.6 hard-hit percentage and 12.8 barrels per plate appearances.

Luis Severino, RHP: Severino's 97.5-mph average four-seam velocity tied with Luis Castillo for the highest among starters this season. And it wasn't all just boom and bluster. Opponents slugged just .446 off the pitch.

Aroldis Chapman, LHP: Closed an erratic season with a flourish, notching a scoreless September in which his fastball whiff percentage went from 23.5 in the first five months to 39.2 in the last.

Sound smart with your friends: .630 -- the Yankees' home winning percentage, which was the best in the AL this season. Something to keep in mind as they host the Wild Card Game.
Charlie Blackmon, CF: Set an MLB record with 103 RBIs out of the leadoff spot this season and won the NL batting title.

Nolan Arenado, 3B: The only player with at least 130 RBIs in each of the last three seasons, and that's attributable to a Major League-best .491 wOBA with runners in scoring position since 2015.

Jon Gray, RHP: Only the Brewers' Jimmy Nelson (15.5) had a lower percentage of hard hits allowed on breaking pitches (16.1) among starters this season.

Sound smart with your friends: .506 -- Rockies' road winning percentage gave them just the second winning season on the road in franchise history (2009). Pertinent to the Wild Card Game and also to the NL Division Series presented by T-Mobile against the Dodgers, should they advance.
Byron Buxton, CF: Turned the Twins' outfield defense from a weakness into a strength this season by recording more outs above average (24) than any other outfielder in baseball.

James Dozier, 2B: From Aug. 4 through the end of the season, raised his OPS from .753 to .853. Only J.D. Martinez, Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Votto, Josh Donaldson and Aaron Judge had higher OPS marks in that span than Dozier's 1.043.

Miguel Sano, 3B: Waiting on word about his readiness for the Wild Card Game, but Sano's percentage of barreled balls (16.6) was the sixth-highest in the game this year.

Sound smart with your friends: 103 -- Twins' loss total from 2016 makes them first team to advance to the postseason the year after a 100-loss season.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.