Looking forward to the postseason (which is less than a month away), it is easy to turn to your team’s stars and expect them to carry the load. For the Cubs, it’s Kris Bryant, Jon Lester, and Aroldis Chapman. For the Nationals, it’s Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, and Max Scherzer. For the Boston Red Sox, it’s Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and David Ortiz. For the Dodgers, it’s Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, and Justin Turner. The last one was easy. But what about the other guys, the guys you don’t expect to come up in big moments but do?
Here’s some examples: Ben Zobrist had eight doubles last year for the Royals, including four in the World Series to drive in key runs. In the 2014 World Series, notable role players who stepped up include Michael Morse, who gave the Giants the lead in Game 7, and Travis Ishikawa, who of course hit a walk off home run to send the Giants to the World Series. Red Sox fans will never forget Shane Victorino’s grand slam in the 2013 ALCS and his three run double in the clinching Game 6 of the World Series. They also will remember Johnny Gomes’ clutch three run homerun to give the Red Sox a 3-1 lead in the World Series.
Who could possibly be the Dodgers unsung heroes in the 2016 playoffs? Guys who could give the Dodgers that extra push?
At the plate- Josh Reddick. Yes, the guy who only had one extra base hit in August can be a difference maker in October. Reddick has turned it around recently, improving his batting average this month in September. If Reddick keeps improving with his bat, he can provide extra production to a hot Dodgers lineup, taking pressure off players like Turner and Gonzalez.
On the field- Joc Pederson. The center field position clearly belongs to Pederson. Pederson is the most consistent fielder, plus he has improved his batting average from last year’s .210 to this year’s .250. But last year in the playoffs, Pederson played all five games, had eight plate appearances, but no hits to show for it. Zero. And the excuse that he can’t hit off left handers couldn’t apply, as Mets starters (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey) were all right handed. Pederson cannot go 0-something in the playoffs this time around, and if he brings his power that we’ve seen this season, the Dodgers once again will get run production from players not two-four in the lineup.
Off the bench- Andrew Toles. It’s hard to sit a guy who is playing as well as this speedster, as he is currently sporting a .347 average and saved the Dodgers from being swept in Colorado with his game winning grand slam in the ninth inning. Toles’ speed can stretch singles into doubles and doubles into triples. It doesn’t look seem that Toles has a starting role in the lineup, but Toles can come off the bench if an outfielder isn’t doing well and Dave Roberts does some shuffling in the lineup. Maybe he can pull off a steal as big as Roberts’ steal with the Red Sox in 2004.
In the bullpen- Grant Dayton. Even though Dayton was a late callup at the end of July, he has quietly become one of the Dodgers go to bullpen arms. Dayton has an impressive 1.77 ERA in his first season with the Dodgers with a a 0.738 WHIP. If Dayton keeps these impressive numbers up, Dayton can be another quality arm in the bullpen that can hand the ball to Kenley Jansen with a lead.