One funny thing about this year’s potential MVP is that no one was valuable enough to push their teams later in the season.
Shohei Ohtani, Bryce Harper, Fernando Tatis Jr., Juan Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr.—all contenders for the individual award, and a champion are all set to watch from home while being crowned.
Other big names remain—Freddie Freeman, Mookie Bates, Jose Altuve, and Aaron Judge all too familiar to fall audiences. Of course, they all were also last year, when Tampa Bay rookie Randy Arozerena stole the show.
Arozarena set postseason records with 10 homers and 29 hits, won the AL Championship Series MVP, and made a wild melee home to help Ray push the Dodgers to game six in the World Series. It was a remarkable rise for the then 25-year-old, who had just 42 regular-season games under his belt, propelling him from unnamed rookie to a standout on baseball’s biggest stage.
The stars are firm in October. Here are five newcomers who could be making headlines this month:
Vander Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays: AAL Rookie of the Year Candidate, Despite playing only 70 games, Franco successfully transformed from a minor league phenom to a big-league contributor.
The 20-year-old switch-hitter batted .288 with seven homers and a .810 OPS, the longest by a player of 20 or younger, matching Hall of Famer Frank Robinson’s 43-game on-base streak in 1956. Batted till Charming yet polished, Franco looks destined for stardom this postseason regardless, but it could speed up his ascent in the conversation for best player in baseball.
Another ray to watch: Rookie right-hander Shane Baz, who was 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA in his first three major leagues starting in September, potentially to work his way into Tampa Bay’s postseason rotation .
Tyler O’Neill, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: The son of a champion bodybuilder, O’Neill introduced the Cardinals to a franchise-record 17-game winning streak in September.
He added 13 homers in the last 31 games with an NL-maximum of 30 RBI at the time. After hitting a combined 21 homers in his first three big-league seasons, the 26-year-old Canadian had 34 to form a dangerous mid-order trio with All-Stars Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.
Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves: After Ronald Acuna Jr.’s knee injury in July, Riley took a bigger step forward than any other Braves player.
The 24-year-old slid his way into the NL MVP idea with 33 homers, 107 RBIs and a .898 ops, producing at a .333 batting average in the second half. Riley slipped into the spotlight last October, hitting .143, while Atlanta lost to the NLCS in seven games to Los Angeles.
He came back to show his best form for 2021 defending the four-time NL East Champs. A redemptive postseason could translate into Atlanta’s first World Series appearance since 1999.
Luis Garcia, RHP, Houston Astros: The Astros are still led by the same stars as their tainted 2017 title team—Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and Yuli Guriel—but their 2021 title team Aspirations largely depend on the 24-year-old Garcia.
A 6-foot-1 rookie with tree-trunk legs, Garcia was 11-8, with a 3.30 ERA in 30 games, including 28 starts. With Justin Verlander for the year following Tommy John surgery and Jack Grinke pushed to the bullpen after a late-season injury, Garcia could be behind Lance McCullers Jr. in a key spot for a youth rotation.
LaMonte Wade Jr., 1B, San Francisco Giants: Late Night LaMonte—pronounced “lah-mont—has been the feel-good, breakout star for amazing San Francisco.
A castoff by the Minnesota Twins, Wade worked his way into regular duty and contributed to several big hits as the Giants ended the Dodgers’ reign defending the NL West Champs eight times.
Wade made 13 for 23 with 12 RBI in the ninth inning, including a walk-off hit to sink Arizona on Friday night. A day later, he was given the team’s Willie Mack Award, an honor given by players, coaches, staff and fans to recognize the club’s most inspirational player.
by Jake Seener
This News Originally From – The Epoch Times