A Fresh Look Into the Final Four of Baseball (2011)
- Updated: October 25, 2011
Written by Rob Bertrand
Who would have thought that an ALCS and NLCS without any of baseball’s major market teams would be so exciting? Lots of people actually. As much as the Phillies, Yankees and Red Sox bring to the table in terms of fan following and TV ratings, there is a whole other audience that loves the underdog and loathes the teams with infinite amounts of capital to spend on talent. America’s heartland is being well represented with the Brewers, Tigers, Cardinals, and Rangers comprising baseball’s Final Four for the 2011 season. Loaded with talent, these smaller market teams have shown they have what it takes to be a contender.
Everyone knows the names of each team’s top players: Verlander and Cabrera for the Tigers, Pujols and Holliday for the Red Birds, Fielder and Braun for the Brew Crew, Hamilton and Young for the Rangers. But it takes more than just a couple of stars to win, it takes a team. Here is a look at a some other key players from each team that have contributed in big ways to their team’s postseason success in 2011. For those fans that treasure a good cardboard memory, we’ve even included a look at their key rookie baseball cards.
By now every baseball fan knows who Nelson Cruz is but that couldn’t be said before the playoffs started. Despite hitting just .212, he has produced some amazingly timely home runs, (5) total, accounting for 11 RBI. His key cards have gained just as much attention as the player himself, so get them while you can.
Key Rookie Card: 2005 SP Authentic #152 (autographed)
A prototypical defensive shortstop and top of the order guy, Rafael Furcal brings a consistent glove and veteran postseason experience to a club that suffered through key injuries and was over 10 games out of the pennant race at the start of September.
Key Rookie Card: 1999 Bowman Chrome #364
Victor Martinez led the AL in batting average with runners in scoring position during the regular season. Opposing pitchers have kept him in check this postseason, with him batting just .194, but again, timely hitting proved to be something Martinez had a knack for.
Key Rookie Card: 2001 Donruss Class of 2001 #258
A gifted utility player that contributes to the depth of the team, Jerry Hairston Jr, is adept at multiple positions but feels most at home at second base. Platooning at the position with Rickie Weeks, both brought a strong arm and deft footwork to the keystone position.
Key Rookie Card: 1998 Fleer Tradition Update #U32