Many of the baseball players we consider “great” have cemented that status through legendary postseason play. With their team playing for it all, and losing means going home for the winter, certain players have stood out and carried the team on their back. During the playoffs, the stakes are higher, and legends are made by showing up for the task. Here is a list of the greatest postseason players in recent MLB history (1990s to present).
Not counting his last playoff appearance in 2017 at age 40, outfielder Carlos Beltran played in 55 postseason games and batted .323/.432/.646 while hitting 16 home runs and stealing 11 bases. In 12 games during the 2004 postseason, Beltran hit .435/.536/1.024 with 8 home runs and 6 steals. His 8 home runs tied Barry Bonds for the single season postseason home run record.
Closer Mariano Rivera has done some incomprehensible things the playoffs. In 141 innings, Rivera has a 0.70 ERA, a WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched) of 0.76, and only gave up two home runs in his entire career. Rivera has the lowest career ERA in postseason history. He’s pitched in 96 playoff games (the most ever), finishing 78 of them. His 42 saves rank first all time by a significant margin (Brad Lidge is second with 18).
Curt Schilling made 19 starts in the playoffs over his career, pitching 133.1 innings to a 2.23 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. In the 2001 playoffs, Schilling had 56 strikeouts, the most ever, as well as 3 complete games. Schilling finished that postseason winning World Series co-MVP with Randy Johnson.
Manny Ramirez has played in 111 playoff games in his career (fifth all-time), and his 29 career home runs are the most in postseason history. Ramirez batted .285/.394/.544 in the playoffs, and his 117 hits are 4th most in playoff history.
Madison Bumgarner of the San Fransisco Giants has pitched 102.1 innings over his postseason career, with an ERA of 2.11 and a WHIP of 0.90. Bumgarner has 3 complete game shutouts Bumgarner won the 2014 World Series MVP.
Did you know that Derek Jeter was good in the playoffs? I’m sure you have never heard that before. Derek Jeter has played 158 playoff games (a full season’s worth and the most ever), and hit .308/.374/.465. Jeter hit 20 home runs and stole 18 bases to go with 200 hits (no other player in MLB history has more than 128 hits). Jeter was the 2000 World Series MVP.
Big Papi has played in 85 career playoff games, hitting .289/.404/.543. His 17 home runs are tied for 7th most all-time. Ortiz is 10th all-time in hits (88), 5th in total bases (165), and tied with Derek Jeter for 4th most RBI (61). Big Papi won the 2013 World Series MVP award.
The third basemen from the Atlanta Braves, Chipper Jones, played in 93 playoff games over his career, hitting .287/.409/.456. Chipper is tied with Kenny Lofton for 5th all-time in hits with 97. He is 7th in total bases with 154. He is 8th in RBI with 47, and is tied with Manny Ramirez for the most walks in postseason history (72).