By Jose M. Romero
The two wild card games are history – one that will go down in history after that horrendous infield fly rule call on a shallow pop-up into left field that went against the Atlanta Braves – and it’s time to start the baseball postseason for real.
It’s Baltimore vs. New York and Detroit vs. Oakland in the American League, and St. Louis vs. Washington and Cincinnati vs. San Francisco in the National League.
In baseball, of course, Latinos are a big part of teams’ success. Let’s first look at those in the American League who could have a major impact for their respective teams over the next few days and possibly weeks.
It all starts and ends with Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera. A .330 batting average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI, with 205 hits. Only question is, he played 161 of 162 regular season games, will he be worn out?
Catcher Alex Avila – Not the most productive season and wasn’t the everyday catcher, but should get most starts in this series.
Shortstop Jhonny Peralta – An All-Star last season whose production decreased in 2012, Peralta has a .277 batting average in postseason play and four home runs and 13 RBI in 22 games.
Second baseman Omar Infante – Will be in the starting lineup and brings six games of postseason experience.
Joaquin Benoit – Veteran setup man out of the bullpen. Has pitched in the past two postseasons.
Jose Valverde – Converted 35 of 40 save opportunities this season.
Anibal Sanchez – Scheduled to start Game 3 at Oakland; 4-6, 3.74 ERA.
LF Yoenis Cespedes – The A’s spent a lot of money to acquire the Cuban national, and it seems to be money well spent. Cespedes batted .292 with 23 home runs and 82 RBI, plus he stole 16 bases this season.
3B Manny Machado – Rookie third baseman from Miami had some big hits and a couple of key defensive plays for the Orioles this season. He’s only 20, but the kid had 50 hits in 51 games and stepped up for the O’s in Friday’s wild card win over the Rangers, driving in a run with a hit.
2B Robert Andino – Doubled and scored twice in Friday’s win at Texas but not known for his bat. Still, he will platoon with Ryan Flaherty in the postseason.
P Luis Ayala – Well-traveled late-inning guy from Mexico could figure out of the bullpen.
P Miguel Gonzalez – After making his major-league debut in May at age 28, went 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA and will be in the O’s starting rotation.
2B Robinson Cano – Eighty-two of his 196 hits this season went for extra bases. An MVP-caliber player who hit 33 home runs with 94 RBI and a .313 batting average in 161 games.
3B Alex Rodriguez – A .272 average, 18 home runs, 57 RBI. Not exactly A-Rod-type numbers, but no question he can still produce. Plus he has 249 career postseason at-bats.
DH Raul Ibanez – He’s 40 and he only batted .240 this season, but a great bat to have in the lineup because of his experience. Plus he can provide power and production (19 homers, 62 RBI in 2012).
P Rafael Soriano – The Yankees closer in 2012 in the absence of Mariano Rivera had a very good year. He had 42 saves and struck out one batter per inning pitched.