Thirteen-inning nail biters, world-class pitchers throwing no-hitters, back-to-back triple plays, and record-setting home runs. These are the bricks that pave the path to the Major League Baseball postseason. While fans dream that their favorite team earns a spot in the postseason, players work hard to reciprocate their appreciation for their die-hard followers, all the while performing a matchless game. For it is the basic concept of synergy that enables such teams to participate in the postseason: a sum (or “uniformed” group) that is greater than the sum of its individual parts. So, players like CC Sabathia, Bryce Harper and Justin Verlander have incredible talent on their own terms, but when combined with the brilliance of other MLB players, their teams achieve unparalleled success. It’s no surprise that all ten MLB postseason teams have at least three Baseball Factory alumni on their rosters, a grand total of 46, including the three aforementioned stars.
In this year’s MLB playoffs, a second Wild Card has been thrown into the mix. While the so-called “Wild Card round” is indeed a postseason game, the victors of both the American and National League matches will advance to the playoffs rounds, contending against at least one of the three existing teams within their respective leagues. The Baltimore Orioles, a team whose name has not appeared on a post season schedule since 1997, will face off against the Texas Rangers in the American League Wild Card game; the Atlanta Braves will host the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Wild Card match up.
Baltimore’s playoff roster includes six Baseball Factory alumni who have undoubtedly contributed to breaking the team’s 15-year playoff dry spell. Factory alumnus, shortstop JJ Hardy, has performed in a total of 158 out of 162 games in the regular season. The remaining five Baseball Factory alumni on the team are Mark Reynolds, LJ Hoes, Nate McLouth, Robert Andino and Troy Patton.
With 562 at-bats, 160 hits, 43 homeruns, and a batting average of .285, Texas Rangers center fielder and Baseball Factory alumnus Josh Hamilton was a forerunner in leading his team to the Wild Card round. Fellow alumni and current teammates Ian Kinsler, Derek Holland, Mike Olt and Mike Napoli have also contributed to the Rangers success throughout the 2012 regular season.
Atlanta Braves catchers David Ross and Brian McCann are both Baseball Factory alumni whose efforts have helped their team achieve a 94-68 record, allowing only 600 runs all season, fifth best in all of Major League baseball. During the regular season, McCann was a strong presence behind the plate while providing power at the plate. Ross served well as back-up catcher, hitting .256 with nine homeruns on the season. On the pitching staff, Baseball Factory alumnus Johnny Venters appeared in 66 games this season with an ERA of 3.22.
The other National League Wild Card contender, the St. Louis Cardinals, also has three Baseball Factory alumni on the roster: Allen Craig, Bryan Anderson and Ryan Jackson. Craig knocked in 92 RBIs and 22 homeruns this season.
Like Baltimore, the Oakland Athletics also have six Baseball Factory alumni on this year’s roster: Sean Doolittle, Tyson Ross, Chris Carter, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Cliff Pennington. At one point the Athletics were nearly 15 games out of first place, but they made a push in July and carried the momentum through the final day of the regular season, clinching the AL West title with a 94-68 record. As a first-baseman, Moss helped lead the team offense, finishing with the second highest batting average this season at .291 to go along with 52 RBIs.
On the 2012 Detroit Tigers roster, three of the six Baseball Factory alumni represented, Prince Fielder, Delmon Young, and Brennan Boesch, qualified for a batting title, hitting 30, 18, and 12 homeruns respectively, while each having over 460 at-bats. Detroit’s pitching staff is also home to three Baseball Factory alumni: starting pitchers Justin Verlander and Rick Porcello, and right-handed pitcher Darin Downs.
The consistently re-appearing postseason team and this year’s best American League record holder, the New York Yankees, includes five well-known Baseball Factory alumni: Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, David Robertson, Eric Chavez and Casey McGehee. Although McGehee was traded to the Yankees over halfway through the regular season, he still maintained a .358 slugging percentage and scored 36 runs. Teixeira, was one of New York’s leaders this season in homeruns with a total of 24, and as a starting pitcher, CC Sabathia attained a 3.38 ERA.
With three Baseball Factory alumni on the team, the Cincinnati Reds pulled off a 97-65 record to conclude the regular season. Right-fielder Jay Bruce only missed seven games during the regular season and thus had 560 at-bats, finishing the regular season witha .252 batting average. The remaining two Baseball Factory alumni, pitchers Todd Redmond and Mike Leake, also contributed to Cincinnati’s overall success this season.
Another 94-68-season record holder, the San Francisco Giants arrived at the postseason with the assistance of four Baseball Factory alumni: pitcher Dan Otero, second-baseman Ryan Theriot, left-fielder Xavier Nady, and first-baseman Brandon Belt. Over his 411 at-bats, Belt scored 47 runs while knocking in 56 RBIs. Theroit had a solid season at the plate as well, finishing the year with a .270 average.
Finally, the “rookie team,” the Washington Nationals, led the National League this year with the best overall record, 98-64. Along with four other Baseball Factory alumni, 19-year-old rookie Bryce Harper has helped facilitate Washington’s success. In his first year in the Major Leagues, the young Baseball Factory alum has hit 22 homeruns and achieved a slugging percentage of .477. Teammate and Factory alum Ryan Zimmerman also brought his power to the plate this season with a.478 slugging percentage. Zach Duke, Christian Garcia and Sean Burnett, Washington’s additional Baseball Factory alumni, shared in the team’s league-winning season.
As the playoff games commence on Friday, October 5 with the Wild Card round, the fate of four teamswill come down to one game. From there, it’s a slow, but exciting road to the World Series, where the two best teams will faceoff to be declared World Series Champion. When that moment arises, at least three of the world champions will have proudly worn a Baseball Factory jersey.
We wish all our alumni the best of luck as they pursue postseason glory in search of a championship!