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It's almost October, and for Major League Baseball fans that means the most exciting time of the year is upon us—the postseason.
Of course, every role to play in baseball is important to make it to the World Series, but the two that seem to get the most buzz are batting and pitching. OddsSeeker.com used data from Stathead to compile charts of the best active batters and pitchers in the MLB postseason based on the total number of home runs hit and strikeouts pitched. Thirteen batters and 12 pitchers currently active in the league as of the 2022 season were identified for this story.
New York Yankees legend Reggie Jackson earned the moniker "Mr. October" following his game-six hitting performance in the 1977 World Series; however, team home run averages don't seem to increase in the postseason and individual success in the regular season doesn't necessarily mean postseason success.
Just three of the top 10 active home run leaders in the regular season are also in the top 10 for the postseason. Stathead data compiled between 2012 through 2021 shows that teams averaged 9.08 strikeouts per game during the regular season, but only 8.11 in the playoffs. It's a different story for pitchers, whose regular-season success seems to translate more directly to the postseason, with six of the active regular-season strikeout leaders also making the top 10 in postseason stats.
Their sign-stealing scandal might taint the Houston Astros' 2017 World Series title, but there's no denying Jose Altuve's dominance in the playoffs. The second baseman didn't see postseason play until 2015 and missed it in 2016, but he's knocked in 23 postseason home runs despite reaching the playoffs for only six seasons—four more than the #2 player on the list, first baseman Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Forty-two-year-old Pujols is still going strong and hitting with power. In the 86 postseason games he's played, Pujols has 19 home runs, 95 hits, and 54 RBIs. He'll always be remembered for his three-home-run game in the 2011 World Series. George Springer is tied with Pujols with 19 postseason home runs. He was Altuve's teammate during the Astros' World Series run and is known for hitting a home run in five straight World Series games.
The narrative around Clayton Kershaw is that he's cursed in the playoffs, but his stats tell a different story. The starting pitcher on the Los Angeles Dodgers may have a postseason ERA of 4.19 throughout 37 appearances, but pair that with 207 strikeouts and even a save, and he's pretty dominant.
The Astros' Justin Verlander is not far behind Kershaw with 205 postseason strikeouts. At #3 is Max Scherzer, who's been a weapon on several teams since his 2008 MLB debut. He made his first World Series appearance in 2012 with the Detroit Tigers and won a ring with the 2019 Washington Nationals.
This story originally appeared on OddsSeeker.com and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.