Postseason stats are often a crapshoot, much like the playoffs themselves. That said, there are still labels that prevail when it comes to ‘clutch’ performers or players who ‘crumble’ under the pressures of October.
Even Reggie Jackson, who carries a nickname for his postseason mastery, labored through dreadful playoff series during his career. He went 3-for-21 in the 1973 ALCS, 2-for-12 in the 1974 ALCS, 2-for-16 in the 1977 ALCS, and you get the idea. One poor performance through a few random games in the fall shouldn’t be a scarlet letter on a player’s legacy.
But for fun, and because we need to keep killing time before the Bombers are back in action on Friday, let’s have a look at the current Yankees who have enjoyed the most postseason success to date:
Judge went 2-for-4 with a home run in his first-ever postseason game, then labored through a dreadful ALDS in 2017 before turning into an October monster. Judge posted a 1.065 in the 2017 ALCS, including a trio of dingers, then set the tone in the 2018 Wild Card Game with a two-run blast in the first inning against Oakland.
The 2018 season ended on the sourest of notes, but not because of Judge. The big baseball boy smacked two homers in four games and finished the series against Boston with a 1.194 OPS. Even with his bad series against Cleveland, his career postseason OPS sits at .994 in 79 plate appearances.
This season has been a struggle for Tanaka at times, particularly early on as he tried to figure out a new grip for his splitter that would work with the different baseballs. Still, it’s hard not to trust Tanaka in the postseason, at least when looking at his performance in October since 2015.
Tanaka started the Wild Card Game in 2015, and aside from a pair of solo home runs, he was solid through five innings in a game where the Yanks’ bats didn’t show up. Since then, he’s been even better, including a seven-inning masterpiece in a do-or-die Game Three against Cleveland in the 2017 ALDS.
Since then, Tanaka has allowed just three earned runs over his last 18 postseason innings, and has a 1.50 ERA in his career.
The Yankees’ bullpen will be a huge factor in their upcoming series, and hopefully Chapman performs to his recent October output.
Chapman had a few hiccups in the 2016 postseason with the Cubs, which was partially due to Joe Maddon using him as much as Joe Torre used Scott Proctor in 2006, but his Yankees playoff tenure has been dominant. He tossed 5.2 scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts in the 2017 ALDS, and has allowed one run through 11 innings of work as a Yankee in October. He enters the ALDS with a playoff ERA of 2.30.
If the Yanks are going to be in a slugfest with the Twins this series, they’re going to need their parrot, who has been a part of some magical postseason moments in his career.
Encarnacion thrived in his October showings, posting a 1.034 OPS in the 2015 ALDS, and a ridiculous 1.417 mark in the 2016 ALDS, after his Wild Card home run. The slugger struggled in the postseason during his Cleveland tenure, but he has the home-run swing to have a monster performance in 2019.
Britton makes this list because of his valiant performance in the 2016 Wild Card Game, before Encarnacion’s home run. The lefty tossed......oh wait.