World Series 2022: Who Will The Unlikely Hero Be This Year???
Every year, there’s a guy like Mark Lemke. And every year, no one sees him coming. And every year, the guy who is “unbeatable” couldn’t hit a ball with a hat rack.
Baseball is easy to handicap…say people who don’t know squat about how the ebbs and flows of humanity cause games and series and entire seasons to either flounder or flourish. It’s easy to look at the big names like Alex Bregman or Bryce Harper. But these series are usually pitching and the unlikely hero.
So who’s going to be the guy who gets hot in the right situations and takes advantage? Two options would seem to be the .180s twins. Martin Maldonado is an out waiting to happen (.186 batting average for the season). Yes he can catch the staff but he can’t hit anything that isn’t in the direct center of the plate. So, note to Phillies pitchers: don’t throw him anything in the middle of the plate. Likely candidate for postseason hero? Probably not.
On the other side of the diamond is first baseman Rhys Hoskins who hit .182 in the playoff run to this point. Proof that average and on base percentage aren’t everything: Hoskins and Right Fielder Bryce Harper share the team lead with five home runs and 11 runs batted in. Considering how few hits Hoskins has been able to get, what is Houston going to do if he gets legitimately hot? The great thing about Hoskins is his plate discipline. In 667 games, he has struck out just eight times more than he has walked in the regular season.
Other candidates? Guys who are slow and steady, but get the job done and occasionally find themselves in can’t miss territory. Names like Nick Castellanos, third baseman Alec Bohm and second baseman Jean Segura. Those guys don’t need much to find a swing and use it to carry a team.
As for Bryce Harper? Man, it’s hard to carry that kind of streak through a down time between series and then pick it up again. Yuli Gurriel looks promising, though. He is coming off a down year (.242 ave., 8 HR) but leads the team in hitting in the postseason. This is precisely the kind of scenario that often leads to the hot hand going stone cold…especially after a lengthy rest.
My pick for unlikely hero? Bryson Stott. Sounds like one of my favorite history teachers -not a World Series hero- which is exactly why he’s going to come alive and carry the Phillies.
And for the Astros? Maybe it’s Yordan Alvarez. He led the team all year but hit only .241 during the run here. That’s a guy who isn’t exactly cold and who could be unbeatable. Second baseman Jose Altuve hit .094 against the Yankees and .000 against Seattle. Do you really think Altuve is going to go almost o-fer for three straight series, especially after a break? No way. He’s almost certain to have a big series. Jeremy Pena already pulled off the unlikely hero feat in the series against the Yankees (hitting 50 points above his batting average in his first season.)
My pick for the kid out of nowhere? Almedys Diaz. He’s perfect for this situation: relatively unknown, .266 career hitter, had a couple of seasons of double-digit homers, but nothing special. Seems as likely a ten-day hero as anyone.
So who’s going to win? It’s kind of hard to overlook the fact that the Astros are undefeated so far in the postseason. I also give more credence to Houston’s victory over the New York Yankees and because of how they had to overcome a super-competitive Seattle Mariners team. The Phillies had to beat the Padres who didn’t really have that great of a season and who had just beeaten a Dodgers team that was coming off a wildcard induced layoff.
Houston boasts an entire pitching staff with an ERA under 2.45 in the postseason, with the exception of Justin Verlander. If manager Dusty Baker can get him out of the game before he melts down (like that would ever happen), the rest of the staff seems suited to seal the win. Framber Valdez, Cristian Javier and Lance McCullers are all solid and there aren’t any holes in the bullpen. On Philadelphia’s side, Aaron Nola, Noah Syndergaard have been fine. Zach Wheeler has been great. The bullpen has not.
Put it on the bullpen and the heroics of…who was that guy again? Houston in six.