Fans to decide Division Series' top star
Samsung Note-able Performances include Beltran, Posey, Sabathia, Verlander
There has never been a Division Series round quite like that one, with all four best-of-five series going the distance for the first time since Major League Baseball expanded its format in 1995.
We think it deserves a proper curtain call right here.
For the first time, a four-man All-Division Series team has been selected by MLB.com -- one player per DS champion, and you can enter for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2013 World Series just by voting for the best of these Note-able Postseason Performances presented by Samsung. Your choices are Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals, Buster Posey of the Giants, CC Sabathia of the Yankees and Justin Verlander of the Tigers.
Here's a closer look at your candidates:
Beltran: The Cardinals' outfielder came into the series against Washington with the highest slugging percentage and OPS in postseason history, and he only added to his postseason legend in the National League Division Series. His two homers in Game 2 turned around the series, and he was 3-for-3 in Game 5 and 8-for-18 overall. To those who remember how the 2006 NL Championship Series ended at Shea Stadium, the amazing part was watching him start Friday's big ninth-inning rally with a double to help get Cards starter Adam Wainwright off the hook.
"The attitude that these guys have when they take the field, they believe in themselves," Beltran said. "And at the same time, it's a good team. We feel that we were able to fight during the regular season and to get to the point where we are right now, it's a great feeling."
Posey: It won't have any bearing on the NL MVP Award vote, but what Posey did in the NLDS only underscores why he is a front-runner for that honor in 2012. The NL batting champ delivered a big grand slam in Game 5 at Cincinnati, leading the Giants to three wins there after an 0-2 deficit. Although he was just 4-for-19 (.211) in the series, his two homers were big.
"Unreal," Giants reliever Sergio Romo said of Posey. "That guy's definitely the MVP of our team. We believe he's the MVP of the league. We wouldn't be here without him, that's for dang sure. He's the one that's been the face of the team all season long. What a great story with all he's been through last year."
Sabathia: The Yankees' ace went over the century mark for career postseason innings in his latest outing, and it was his greatest playoff performance to date. Sabathia went 8 2/3 innings in Game 1 for the victory, and in Game 5, he put the Bombers on his back in a 121-pitch complete-game effort. Even Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Sabathia took it to "another level" in fashioning a 2-0 record in the series.
"That's what I'm here for," Sabathia said after Game 5. "That's what I play the game for. I guess I should feel a little pressure or something like that, but I don't."
Verlander: It is still hard to argue against him as the predominant pitcher in the game. The Tigers' ace bookended the American League Division Series with a pair of 11-strikeout victories, including a four-hit shutout in the decisive fifth game against an Oakland team that had no answer.
"This is where legends are made," Tigers catcher Alex Avila said after the clincher. "He basically put us on his back and said, 'We're not going to lose.'"
Now it's on to best-of-seven action the rest of the way. The postseason continues with the Tigers and Yankees in the ALCS on TBS and the Cardinals and Giants in the NLCS on FOX.