Who will be the playoff hero? - The PKB Take

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The obvious answer is that, if the Yankees have a hero, it's gonna be Aaron Judge tearing the league a new one. But Judge was on absolute fire during August and all throughout New York's second-half slump. And really, when Superman saves the day, it's kinda no big deal, because he always saves the day. So, I'm not going all in on Judge, even though he's the most likely candidate after the season he's had.

Rather than pick one, I wanted to look at various candidates.

The Likely Candidates:

Giancarlo Stanton: G was injured for what's historically been his best month. He seems to be rounding into form. He's 4-for-13 in his last four games, with three home runs and three walks against four strikeouts. So, he's clearly seeing the ball a bit better and has opened his stance a bit further. The combination of good balance and starting to get the "Pitcher, I will hurt you" look on his face when batting usually shows G is feeling it.

Anthony Rizzo: Very quietly has 32 bombs on the season, and while I thought he was becoming a porch hunter, he really only has one short porch special out of his 32. Per Statcast, only 10 "doubters" against 21 mostly gone and 12 no-doubters. He also plays remarkable first base, and is a very clever player on the bases, even though he runs like he has a giant parachute strapped to his back. He's also got that experience, and he's charming AF. If anyone is gonna style their moment and make it amusing, it's gonna be Rizzo.

Nestor Cortes: They're talking about him for Game 1. Nuff said.

Gerrit Cole: Yes, he led the league in homers allowed. But, aside from the various meltdowns when things go a bit sideways for him, he's been absolutely sparkling. He's been striking people out at a fairly legendary pace, and if he can just put it all together for the playoffs, he could be absolutely sparkling. Oh, and he's dominated Tampa this year and sparkled against Houston.

The Longer Shots:

Harrison Bader: Chance of making a legendary catch? Just needs the right opportunity, but if the ball is hit his way, he's gonna give everything to get it. Might steal a base. Might get a big hit. He's been swinging better, seems close to 2021 Bader, and appears to be unfazed by the pinstripes.

Oswaldo Cabrera: We all love the guy. The fake pearls, the versatility, the bat, the highlights. He stepped in on Day 1 and said, "I belong here." There's nothing that suggests he won't do the same in the playoffs.

Luis Severino: This is actually my pick. The Yankees have been very cautious with him, but he's now built up with 94 pitches in his last outing, and he's looking like the guy they extended, only nastier and filthier. For the ALDS, start Nestor - Sevy - Cole in that order, which sets Sevy up to either start a decisive Game 5, or possibly Game 1 of the ALCS.

The Full Face Crack squad, and why I think they could do it:

Aaron Hicks: He is universally lambasted and endlessly frustrating. Also, his wrist is pretty close to fully back in order, a little ahead of schedule. It would gag the Yankees universe if he did something amazing in the playoffs. I almost think he's gonna be the man.

Isiah Kiner-Falefa: He's got that knack with the runners in scoring position. Between fumbling routine ground balls, he turns some absolutely amazing plays at short. And we now know he can occasionally pop a homer, as he had that game in Boston, and has hit a few since.

Josh Donaldson: Okay, hear me out. He's been a different player in road games and home games this season, but seems to have found something at YS recently. He has a few massive hits this season, like Opening Day, and the first ultimate grand slam for the team this season (How insane is it that there have been 32 Ultimate Grand Slams since 1925, and the 2022 Yankees have two of them... since 1925, the Yankees as a franchise have four: Ruth, Giambi, Donaldson, Stanton). He's a fairly unlikable human, but when I forget about all that, he enjoys playing the game, and is always among the first to congratulate anyone's success. Hell, he was the second handshake and hug with Judge after 62, after Stanton, who was in the on-deck circle. Oh, and he's capable of Platinum Glove quality defense at third.

Oswald Peraza: I would really like him to be part of the infield rotation, if not the starter, so I would have a face crack if he managed to get the start and reward Boone for the faith.


The assignment was to pick the hero. I'm gonna go with two:

Luis Severino and Aaron Hicks.

Sue me.

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