Sometimes, a team’s best player in the World Series is someone in a different uniform back in April.
That’s the case with the 2021 World Series champions, the Atlanta Braves. The team defeated the Houston Astros 7-0 in Game 6 Tuesday night to win its first championship since 1995. And it came on the shoulders of trade deadline acquisition Jorge Soler.
After starting the season with the Kansas City Royals, Soler was traded to the Braves at the deadline as Atlanta tried to fill the hole in the outfield left vacant by Ronald Acuna Jr and Marcell Ozuna. It’s safe to say the deal paid off for the Braves, as Soler collected World Series MVP honors, batting .300 in the series with three home runs, including a three-run shot to open the scoring in the series-clinching game.
It wasn’t just Soler, as Atlanta relied on other deadline acquisitions like Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario and Joc Pederson to bring them a World Series title.
With Soler and Co. helping the Braves to the World Series win, here are some other players brought in at the deadline that helped their new team win a championship.
Steve Pearce, 2018 Red Sox
On a 2018 Red Sox team loaded with talent, it was journeyman Steve Pearce who was the star of the World Series.
The Red Sox acquired Pearce from the Blue Jays in late June for minor leaguer Santiago Espinal. He was brought in mostly to have another right-handed bat in the order, but Pearce came alive in October. He had eight RBIs and three home runs in the postseason, including a game-tying homer in the eighth inning of Game 4 and two home runs in the series-clinching Game 5. His performance earned him World Series MVP.
Justin Verlander, 2017 Astros
Justin Verlander already had a Cy Young and an AL MVP, but when he was traded from the Tigers to the Astros in 2017, it was so he could go after a World Series ring that had eluded him for over a decade.
The veteran hurler was able to do just that, going undefeated the rest of the regular season, earning ALCS MVP and going 4-1 with a 2.21 ERA in six postseason starts to help the Astros defeat the Dodgers in seven games to get his ring.
Aroldis Chapman, 2016 Cubs
How do you break a 108-year championship drought? You trade for the best reliever in baseball.
Theo Epstein went all in to acquire Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees at the deadline, giving up Gleyber Torres and three others for the flame-throwing lefty. But it paid off, as Chapman finished the postseason with four saves and 21 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings, bringing the Cubs their first World Series since 1906.
Ben Zobrist, 2015 Royals
One season after falling in the World Series, the Royals were active buyers at the deadline as they acquired Ben Zobrist from the A’s.
The Royals gave up Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks in the deal, but it was well worth it. Zobrist hit .303 with two homers, six RBIs and had an .880 OPS in 16 postseason games en route to the World Series win.
Like the 2021 Braves, Zobrist wasn’t the only deadline acquisition that made a huge difference. Johnny Cueto was excellent for the Royals, including a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series, after coming over from the Reds at the deadline
Orlando Cabrera, 2004 Red Sox
The Red Sox shocked the baseball world when they traded away their franchise player in Nomar Garciaparra in a four-team deal at the deadline. They were able to bring in Orlando Cabrera from the Expos and Doug Mientkiewicz from the Twins to shore up their defense.
While Cabrera was a great defensive asset at shortstop, it was his bat that did the most damage. After struggling in the ALDS, Cabrera batted .379 in the ALCS to propel the Red Sox to their 0-3 comeback over the Yankees. He then was one of five players on Boston with at least three RBIs in the World Series as the Red Sox broke the curse with their championship win.
David Justice, 2000 Yankees
Heading into the 2000 MLB season, the Yankees already had won the World Series three out of the last four years. But they were struggling to stay in first place in the division in the first half of the season.
As a result, the Yankees traded away three players to the Indians for David Justice. In the regular season with the Yankees, Justice hit .305 with 20 home runs and 60 RBIs and then in the postseason, earned ALCS MVP honors with two home runs and eight RBIs as New York went on to win another World Series.
David Cone, 1992 Blue Jays
The Blue Jays needed a pitcher to get them over the hump in 1992 and the answer came in the form of David Cone.
Taking advantage of a slumping Mets team, the Blue Jays acquired Cone in August for Jeff Kent and a player to be named later that ended up being Ryan Thompson. He helped the Blue Jays win the division with a 4-3 record and a 2.55 ERA to end the regular season. He had two excellent starts in the postseason, including a gem in Game 2 of the ALCS, and Cone won what would end up being the first of five World Series in his career.
Rickey Henderson, 1989 A’s
The 1989 A’s already had a stacked lineup, but het, why not add the best leadoff hitter in the game?
Rickey Henderson returned to Oakland in a trade with the Yankees that sent Greg Cadaret, Eric Plunk and Luis Polonia back to New York. After a great second-half of the regular season where he batted .294 with 72 runs scored and 58 stolen bases, Henderson was crucial in the A’s World Series win. He won the ALCS MVP, hitting .400 with two homers, five RBIs and eight steals against the Blue Jays, and then batted .474 in the World Series’ sweep of the Giants.
Lou Brock, 1964 Cardinals
When the Cardinals traded for Lou Brock in June of the 1964 season, it raised some eyebrows considering Brock’s slow start to the season. But the speedster more than made up for it once he got to St. Louis.
Brock hit .348 with 12 home runs, 44 RBIs and 33 steals in 103 games for St. Louis. He followed that up by batting .300 with a home run and five RBIs in the seven-game World Series victory over the Yankees.