top of page

Which Players Could Have the Biggest Impact in the 2023 Postseason?

Christian Yelich playing for the Brewers; CC by License 2.0

October baseball is here. The MLB playoffs are underway. 12 teams are looking to carve their name in the history books and take home the biggest prize in all of baseball. While some teams certainly have higher chances than others, playoff baseball means that some players will go on insane hot streaks that help their teams win games, or even the whole thing. We saw this occur with guys like Jorge Soler in 2021 and Jeremy Pena in 2022. Today, the slate is clean. Who will be the next group of guys to step up and drastically help his team’s chances in the postseason?

Christian Yelich

Christian Yelich and his Brewers are primed for a deep run into the 2023 playoffs. Their pitching has been extremely valuable as of late, featuring the three-headed monster in Burnes, Woodruff, and Peralta. However, manager Craig Counsell announced Brandon Woodruff has a shoulder injury that will sideline him for the Wildcard Series and maybe even longer. This fact hurts the Crew’s chances, but they still feel like the team that gets red hot and pushes through the adversity thrown at them. In order to do that, guys will need to step up and lead. Yelich, being a veteran, has the experience and talent to lead by example. He could very easily become the spark plug this Brewers team needs after getting the bad news about Woodruff.

Everything about Christian Yelich’s 2023 season points to an imminent hot streak going into the postseason. He had an amazing, bounce-back season this year, almost going 20-20 at the plate. He hit 19 home runs with 28 stolen bases as a 31-year-old. Yelich had one of his best offensive seasons since 2019, where his MVP run was cut short due to injury. He slashed .278/.370/.447, good for an .818 OPS and an impressive 124 OPS+. What really shines about Yelich’s stats are his Savant percentiles. Out of the gate, he ranked in the 91st percentile for Batting Run Value, putting his 2023 performance into better context. He fell in the 86th percentile for average exit velocity, 93rd for Hard-Hit%, and 86th in expected batting average. A sneaky impressive percentile is his 98th in Baserunning Run Value. In the playoffs, every play counts, especially ones on the bases. Yelich has proven he does not make mistakes on the base paths, and this attribute can contribute more runs for the Brewers in their ‘23 run.

Yelich is no stranger to having hot streaks at the plate. His 2018 and 2019 seasons featured months where he would clobber every pitch thrown at him. Yelich still has that MVP-form in him, and the signs from his regular-season performance point towards a very valuable postseason run from Yelich.

Kyle Bradish

The Orioles have shocked the baseball world in the 2023 season. This team was projected to have another solid year, similar to their performance from 2022. However, no one expected this team of young players to win the competitive AL East with 100 wins under their belt. Now, they enter the postseason as the #1 seed in the American League, patiently waiting to face either the Rays or Rangers. Unlike the Brewers, the Orioles saw no setbacks in the short time between the regular season’s end and the postseason’s beginning. A big part of their success came on the backs of their starting pitchers. Kyle Bradish, a 27-year-old RHP, became an ace for the Orioles. Bradish is in a prime position to carry the torch for this team in October.

Bradish had an incredible improvement between the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Last year, he sported a 4.90 ERA with a 1.40 WHIP in 23 starts. His Baseball Savant page was very blue, not featuring many impressive percentiles at all. His most impressive from that season was an 86th percentile in Breaking Run Value, a glimpse into how his game would change in the 2023 season. Through 30 starts in 2023, his overall Pitching Run Value jumped from the 13th percentile to the 99th. His breaking pitches got even nastier, going from the 86th percentile to the 100th. With this literal value he provides to the Orioles, this team can expect similar production in the postseason, an environment where limiting runs is even more important.

Bradish will lead a very deep pitching staff into the postseason. The O’s picked up Shintaro Fujinami, an electric arm who has turned it around since being traded from the A’s, at the trade deadline. They also added Jack Flaherty, who has struggled in the rotation but found a home in the bullpen. This team also has Tyler Wells, a converted starter, in the bullpen, who is a great long-relief option. Expect big things from Bradish and his pitching staff in the ALDS.

Aroldis Chapman

The Rangers got into the playoffs in a similar way to the Orioles. They surprised a lot of people who follow the game, as many did not think they had the depth to get to play more baseball in October. They spent a ton of time in first place in the AL West, using their explosive offense combined with pitching depth. They spent most of the year without their big offseason signing of Jacob DeGrom, making their success even more impressive. Their trade deadline activity pointed to a team who was going for it in October, as they added guys like Max Scherzer and Aroldis Chapman. However, they fell out of first place in the west on the last day, as the Astros passed them, taking the #2 seed and a bye in the Wildcard Series.

Chapman has the potential to impact this Ranger’s team in a big way. Lately, his performance has been shaky. He has blown a good amount of saves, but his overpowering arm could prove to be extremely useful in a condensed setting like this year’s playoffs. The 35-year-old has shown no signs of decline this year, as he ranks in the 100th percentile for strikeout percentage and Whiff%. His velocity is not dropping much either, relative to the rest of the league, as he is in the 99th percentile for average fastball velocity. His downsides are what we are used to with Chapman: He walks a ton of people and gives up hard contact quite often.

The upside to having a guy like Chapman in a bullpen is experience. He knows what it is like to pitch in high-pressure situations. He has pitched in Game 7’s. Chapman knows what it's like to have the ball in leverage situations, and that type of experience is immeasurably valuable in the postseason. Chapman is the one guy on this list who can blow an entire series for the Rangers. It depends on how quickly opposing lineups can get to Chapman, and if they can’t, he can buzz through hitters like no other reliever can.

The postseason is the time for players to go on hot streaks. A group of guys or even just one player can drastically influence how a team does. It is do-or-die time for these 12 teams. The October storylines will write themselves over the next few weeks. The players above have a chance at making their teams’ runs much deeper. Pay close attention to these potentially impactful players.


bottom of page