Jon Lester was widely considered the ace of the Red Sox’s pitching staff, but the 2013 postseason proved his worth in Boston. In five starts, Lester notched four wins and a 1.56 ERA, dropping his career postseason ERA to 2.11.
His four wins and five starts rank third in MLB history and his 18.1 innings of one run ball during the 2013 World Series will be written in Red Sox lore.
David Ortiz is no stranger to postseason excellence, but the 2013 MLB playoffs catapulted “Big Papi” to a new level of stardom. In the 2013 Fall Classic, Ortiz batted .688 through all six games and upped his career postseason batting average to .295.
At one point, he tied a World Series record by reaching base in nine consecutive at bats and moved into the top 10 in postseason at bats (295), plate appearances (357), runs scored (51), hits (87), total bases (163), doubles (21), home runs (17), RBIs (60), and bases on balls (57).
Carlos Beltran has posted ridiculous numbers in his 45 postseason games. In that time, Beltran ranks seventh for career slugging percentage with a .724 mark. He is two spots ahead of Hank Aaron and two behind Lou Gehrig, which puts him in pretty good company. Beltran is also seventh with a 1.173 OPS.
In 2004, while playing for the Astros, Beltran scored the most runs all-time in a single postseason with 21. Beltran also is tied for 10th with Tino Martinez and David Ortiz for most career runs in the postseason. Also in 2004, Beltran tied Barry Bonds and Nelson Cruz for the most homers ever hit in a single postseason with eight.
Mr. October is an obvious choice for this list. His achievements are many, but his timely postseason hits are stuff of legend. Beyond the clutch factor, Jackson has had some prolonged success in the postseason that has put him above his peers. Jackson ranks eighth for his career in total bases in the postseason. He's also fourth in career homeruns with 18, tied with Albert Pujols and Mickey Mantle. Jackson is seventh in career RBIs in the postseason with 48. Part of Jackson’s success may be that he was a part of such good teams, as he is 10th all-time in postseason at bats.
In 1905, Christy Mathewson pitched 27.0 innings and allowed zero earned runs. For this feat, he is tied with many other pitchers, but only Waite Hoyt pitched as many innings, with the next closest pitching 23, 21 and 20. The same year, Mathewson tied the highest win-loss percentage in a single postseason. Mathewson was similarly impressive for his career, posting a 0.97 ERA with 101.2 innings pitched. In 1905, Mathewson posted a .519 WHIP, placing him third for a single postseason and his .836 mark earns him the sixth spot for his career.
Mathewson has thrown the most career postseason complete games with 10 and managed the feat three times in both the 1905 and 1912 postseasons. In 1905, all of those CGs were shutouts (ranking him first for a single postseason), and his four career postseason shutouts rank him first all-time.
Mr. November, while clutch, is at least partially on this list because of the vast number of postseasons he appeared in. Jeter is first overall in postseason plate appearances for his career with 734… a cool 189 appearances more than the next guy, his teammate Bernie Williams. Jeter also is first in games played with 158. These appearances weren’t without success though.
Jeter is the postseason career leader in both runs scored (111, 28 more than the next player) and hits (200, 72 more than the next player). Jeter is also first in total bases (302), doubles (32) and triples (5). Jeter, not a homerun hitter in the regular season, is third all-time with 20. Jeter ranks fourth in RBIs with 61 and fifth in walks with 66. For all of his success, his plate appearances may have caught up with him for this last stat, as he is the all-time leader in postseason strikeouts as well.
Beyond his offensive performance, Jeter has two plays that will forever stand out as postseason gems. The first was in Game 3 of the ALDS against the A’s in 2001 when Jeter had his memorable backhanded flip to keep the A’s from tying the game. The other standout play is an amazing diving play into the stands during the 12th inning of the 2004 ALCS. Jeter came away with a bloodied chin and the Yankees came away with a win in the bottom of the 13th.
The Yankees’ closer is first in career postseason ERA, with a 0.70 mark. Rivera has 39.8 more innings pitched than the next closest pitcher on the list (Christy Mathewson) and a whopping 108.8 more innings pitched than Harry Brecheen, who is second on this list with an ERA of 0.83. Mo has a .889 winning percentage in the postseason, which is good for second all-time. His .759 WHIP is good for third all-time and his .438 mark in 2003 is good for first in a single postseason. Mariano Rivera has 42 career postseason saves, a mere 24 saves ahead of Brad Lidge who is in second. His career 110 Ks puts him ninth all-time.
Schilling’s most memorable performance in the postseason will always be remembered as the “bloody sock game.” In Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees, Schiling was dealing with an ankle injury that resulted in blood seeping through his sock. Even with this injury, Schilling pitched seven innings, only allowing four hits, one earned run and zero base on balls. For his career, Schilling ranks fifth all-time in postseason wins (11) and third in win-loss percentage (.846). During his 2001 postseason run with the Diamondbacks, Schilling had 56 strikeouts, good enough to place him first all-time. In the same year, Schilling pitched 48.1 innings, the most for a single postseason.
In 67 postseason plate appearances, Rose batted .321 with a .440 slugging percentage. Rose impressively has more career postseason walks than strikeouts (28 compared to 22). In 1975, Rose posted an impressive .370 batting average in seven postseason games. For his career, Rose is in the top 10 in singles and overall hits (sixth and ninth respectively). Probably the most relevant fact about Rose isn’t his stats (for once), but the fact that Rose’s teams made the postseason 14 separate times, and for the most part, he was the heart and soul of those teams.
Babe Ruth makes this list for many reasons, one of which is he was the best player on seven championship teams. Ruth also is among the top 10 in many all-time and single season statistical categories. In 1928, Babe Ruth batted an astounding .625, earning him the third spot for a single postseason. That same year, Ruth posted a .647 OBP (eighth all-time), and his career number of .467 lands him sixth on the all-time list.
The Babe ranks third all-time in slugging percentage (.744) and is second for his single postseason performance where he posted a 1.375 slugging percentage. Ruth ranks second in both single postseason OPS (2.022) and career OPS (1.211). While ninth on the career postseason homerun list doesn’t seem particularly impressive, the fact that he had more than 100 less plate appearances than anyone else on the list is a tribute to his dominance.
Man Ram was a postseason monster. In 2008, Ramirez tied Joe Gordon for the fifth best OBP for a single posteason with a .667 mark. During that same year, Manny slugged an impressive 1.080 (eighth all-time) and had a 1.747 OPS (seventh all-time). Ramirez is third all-time for both runs scored with 67 and hits with 117. Most impressively, Ramirez has the most career postseason homeruns with 29, seven ahead of the next closest competitor who has 60 more plate appearances than Manny. He is second in career postseason RBIs (78) and tied for 10th in a single postseason with 16. Ramirez also has the most career postseason walks with 72.
David Justice had extended postseason runs with three different teams - the Braves, the Indians and the Yankees. Because of this, Justice ranks fourth in his career for postseason games played (112), fifth in at bats (398) and fifth in plate appearances (471). Justice seized on those opportunities as he also ranks fifth in runs scored (55), seventh in hits (89), seventh in total bases (152) and eighth in doubles (17). Justice is ranked third all-time for RBIs in the postseason and sixth in walks.
A man that managed to not get lost in the shadow of his fellow teammate and another great Yankee (Babe Ruth) was Lou Gehrig. After 14 years in the major leagues, Gehrig's career batting average stood at .340 with 493 homeruns and 1,995 RBI's. Gehrig played a major role in the 1928 postseason Yankee lineup. The team that season can be descirbed as nothing short of spectacular, where Gehrig would hit .545 and manage four homeruns, a double and nine RBIs. Before being diagnosed with the disease ALS, otherwise known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," Gehrig would lead the Yankees to three straight World Series victories from 1936-38.
Easily considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Bob Gibson has the stats and awards to back that statement up. Gibson is a nine-time All-Star, a nine-time Gold Glove recipient, a two-time Cy Young winner and the 1968 NL MVP. With those impressive achievements aside, Gibson made nine World Series appearances, and in eight of those, he threw complete games, finishing off with a 7-2 record and a 1.89 ERA. Let's not forget that homerun he managed in Game 7 of the 1967 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. Bob Gibson ranks No. 1 in single season World Series strikeouts with an amazing 35 during the 1968 World Series.
Henry Louis "Hank" Aaron managed to hit over .300 14 times in a major league season and plowed through 40 or more homeruns eight times. If Aaron is remembered for anything, it has to be his numerous records. On May 17, 1970, Aaron hit a single off Cincinatti Reds pitcher Wayne Simpson to collect his 3,000th career hit. He went on to become the first player with 500 career homeruns to have that many hits. On April 8, 1974 he conquered the great Babe (Ruth) and one of the most sought after records in sports by knocking his 715th homerun. As for the postseason, pitted up against the Mets during the NLCS, Aaron hit a homerun in each game and batted.357 with seven RBI's despite the Braves being swept in that series.
Lou Brock was smack in the middle of a deal that would later be known to the baseball world as one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history. In the middle of the 1964 season, Brock was traded from the Chicago Cubs to the St. Louis Cardinals due to a few below-average seasons. He would step onto the Cardinals field and start as their left fielder. He went on to hit .348 for the rest of the season as the Cardinals passed the Phillies, Giants and Reds to capture the pennant.
In 1965, Brock scored 107 runs, hit .288 and stole 63 bases, which began a string of consistently outstanding seasons for him. Brock's best season was in 1967 where he led the National League with 113 runs scored, managed 52 steals, homered 21 times and drove in 78 runs. In postseason marvels, Brock would go on to steal 14 bases, a World Series record.
In 2011, Albert Pujols racked up 82 plate appearances. In roughly a third of a season's worth of playing time, Pujols has clubbed13 homers with 36 RBI's. With the Cardinals, during Game 1 of the NLCS versus the Padres, he hit a game-winning two-run homerun against Jake Peavy as the Cardinals won 5-1. He had a game-winning RBI against David Wells and had three hits in Game 2 as the Cardinals won 2-0. He batted .333 with a homerun and an RBI in the series as the Cardinals defeated the Padres in four games.
In his 12-season career, Koufax had a 165–87 record with a 2.76 ERA, 2,396 strikeouts, 137 complete games and 40 shutouts. In his last 10 seasons, from 1957 to 1966, batters hit .203 against Koufax, with a .271 on base percentage and a .315 slugging average. Koufax's postseason record is an impressive one with a 4–3 win-loss record and a 0.95 earned run average, in four World Series. He is on the very short list of pitchers who retired with more career strikeouts than innings pitched.
Mantle hit some of the longest homeruns in Major League history. On Sept. 10, 1960, he hit a ball left-handed that cleared the right-field roof at Tiger Stadum in Detroit. More than once, Mantle hit balls off the third-deck facade at Yankee Stadium. In 1962 and '63, he batted .321 and .314. In 1964, Mantle hit .303 with 35 homeruns and 111 RBIs. In the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 3 of the 1964 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Mantle blasted Barney Schultz's first pitch into the right field stands at Yankee Stadium, which won the game for the Yankees, 2-1. The homer broke the World Series record of 15 by Babe Ruth. He hit more homers in the series to set the existing World Series record of 18 homeruns. The Cardinals ultimately won the World Series in seven games.
Johnson has managed to appear in eight postseasons with 11 playoff series, which includes one World Series. In 1999, Johnson agreed to a four-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He would lead the team to the playoffs that year with a 17-9 record, 2.48 ERA and 364 strikeouts. Johnson also led the majors in innings, complete games and strikeouts.
In the fourth year of the Diamondbacks franchise, Johnson, along with Curt Schilling, would carry Arizona to their first World Series appearance and victory in 2001 against the NY Yankees. Johnson's performance was stellar, striking out 11 in a 3-hit shutout in Game 2, pitching seven innings for the victory in Game 6 and then coming on in relief the following day to pick up the win in Game 7. Of Arizona's 11 postseason wins in 2001, Johnson had five.
Pettite was the winning pitcher when the Yankees beat the L.A. Angels in Game 6 of the ALCS on Oct. 25, 2009, to clinch the series and advance to the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies. That brought his career total of series-clinching wins to five, breaking the record he had shared with fellow Yankee Roger Clemens. Pettitte is also one of the most all-time successful pitchers in postseason history, going 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA in 44 career starts. He also ranks the first all-time in postseason starts and innings pitched and is second with 183 strikeouts. His 19 postseason wins are more than that of eight other franchises (Royals, Diamonbacks, Mariners, Brewers, Padres, Rays, Rockies and Expos/Nationals). He also holds the all-time postseason record for most starts (42) and innings pitched in the postseason (263).
With Smoltz on a Braves team that managed to make the postseason every year from 1991 until 2005, it is without a doubt appropriate to shine a light on his superb pitching skills. In 1991, he won both his starts in the NLCS against the Pirates to lift the Braves to their first World Series since their move to Atlanta in 1996.
Smotlz took home the NLCS MVP in '92, as he won yet another two starts against the Pirates. His 15 wins in the playoffs is second only to Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte's 19. Though the Braves won only one of the five World Series Smotlz played in, it has to be said that without Smotlz, the Braves would've never have won all five of those National League pennants.
Orel Hershiser was given the nickname "Bulldog" by Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda in 1988 after Hershiser earned postseasn notoriety. He led the Dodgers into the playoffs after a wildly successful regular season, which he went on to set an all-time record by pitching 50 consecutive scoreless innings.
In the 1988 NLCS between the Dodgers and the Mets, Hershiser not only was the starting pitcher for Games 1 and 3, but he recorded the final out in Game 4 as a relief pitcher for a save. He then pitched a shutout in Game 7 and was selected as the NLCS MVP. He also pitched a shutout in Game 2 of the World Series and allowed only two runs in a complete game to clinch the victory in Game 5, winning the World Series MVP Award.
During the 1980 postseason, Brett led the Royals to their first American League pennant, sweeping the playoffs in three games from the rival Yankees, who had beaten Kanasas city in 1976, '77 and '78 playoffs. In Game 3, Brett hit a ball straight into the third deck of Yankee Stadium off of Yanks closer Goose Gossage. Brett would go on to hit .375 in the 1980 World Series, but the Royals would lose in six games to the Philadelphia Phillies. After suffering from hemmorrhoid pain and leaving Game 2 in the sixth inning, he would have minor surgery the following day and return to hit a homerun during Game 3, where the Royals would go on to win in 10 innings, 4-3. In 1985, Brett had another brilliant season in which he helped propel the Royals to their second American League Championship.
He batted .355 with 30 homeruns and 112 RBI's, finishing in the top 10 of the league in 10 different offsensive categories. Defensively, he won his only Gold Glove. In the the final weeks of the regular season, Brett went 9-for-20 at the plate with seven runs, five homeruns and nine RBIs in six crucial games, five of them victories.
Maddux is credited by his teammates as being able to outthink his opponents. But besides his stellar pitching, Maddux was an excellent fielder and he's got the 18 Gold Gloves to prove it. Maddux never walked more than 82 batters in any season of his career, averaging fewer than two walks per game. In 1997, Maddux allowed 20 walks in 232 plus innings. In 2001, he a set a NL record by going 72 1/2 innings without giving up a walk.
Maddux pitched in 13 Division Series contests, 17 League Championship games and five World Series games. He has a 3.27 ERA in 198 postseason innnings, including an outstading 2.09 ERA in 38.7 World Series innings. He was chosen for the National League All-Star team eight times. He won four ERA titles and led the NL in shutouts five times.
It's hard to talk about the Yankees and not mention one of their staples during the 1990s, Bernie Williams, who owned centerfield. But things for Williams started off slow, and in 1995 owner George Steinbrenner (for the second time) considered trading Williams. The Yankees kept him, and luckily for them, Williams had his breakout season. He hit 18 homeruns and led the team in runs, hits, total bases and stolen bases. Bernie continued his hot hitting into the postseason, leading the Yankees with a .429 batting average in the 1995 ALDS against the Seattle Mariners.
After continuing to improve, Bernie showcased his skills to the baseball world again in the postseason. He batted .467 in the ALDS against Texas and played an amazing centerfield.
He picked up where he left off in the ALCS against Baltimore, belting an 11th inning walk-off homer in Game 1. Ending with a .474 ALCS average and two homers, Bernie was named the ALCS MVP. He had just four hits in the 1996 World Series, but his 4 RBI's led the Yanks, and a clutch homer in the eighth inning of Game 3 helped capture the team's first championship since 1978. During the 1998 season, in which the Yankees went 114-48 to set a then-American League regular season record, Williams finished with a .339 average, becoming the first player to win a batting title, Gold Glove and a World Series ring in the same year.
Ford was New York's Game 1 pitcher in 1955-58 and 1961-64. He is the only pitcher to start four consecutive Game 1s, a streak he reached twice. In the 1960 World Series against the Pirates, Ford won both his starts in Games 3 and 6 with complete-game shutouts but was then unavailable to relieve in the last game, a loss thanks to Bill Mazeroski's walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth, winning the game-and the Series for the Pirates.
As for Ford's career, he had 10 World Series victories, more than any other pitcher, he led all starters in World Series starts as well as innings, hits, walks and strikeouts. In 1961, he broke Babe Ruth's World Series record of 29 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. (Though Mariano Rivera broke this postseason record in 2000). Ford then went on to win the 1961 World Series MVP.