If the Mets truly go the way their speedy leadoff hitter and shortstop goes ... well, he'd better get going. And fast. After 19 games in September, his .247 average and.319 on-base percentage have the Mets stuck in the mud.
2 of 12John Iacono/SI
An MVP charge from the Mets' first baseman (.309, 24 homers, 66 RBIs since a nine-RBI game in late June) has put the New Yorkers in position to sneak into the postseason. If that bullpen can just hold a lead.
3 of 12Al Tielemans/SI
Last year's MVP had a slow start to '08, but J-Roll is rolling in September (.337, .415 OBP), just when the Phillies (14-6 this month) need him the most.
4 of 12Al Tielemans/SI
His slider should be declared a weapon of mass confusion, the way hitters flail away at it. In 67 1/3 innings, Lidge has 89 strikeouts and opponents are hitting just .192 against him (righties just .108). Oh. And he's 40-for-40 in save chances.
5 of 12John Biever/SI
Maybe he's not your idea of a typical leadoff man, but he gets on base (.354), he can steal a bag or two and he has power (29 homers, 26 doubles) to change a game around. The hop in the outfield, we can do without.
6 of 12Keith Birmingham/SI
Important numbers: A .399 batting average, 16 homers, 49 RBIs in 48 games for the Dodgers since his trade from the Red Sox. More important numbers: L.A., .500 when Manny landed, is 27-21 since.
7 of 12John Iacono/SI
The rookie third baseman, the probable Rookie of the Year, has 11 RBIs in 11 games since his return from a broken wrist. The Rays, not a powerful offensive team, will need his power (25 homers, 20 doubles in '08) in October.
8 of 12AP
The first pick of the '07 draft, the lanky left-hander from Vanderbilt started his first game Monday and gave up four hits in 5 1/3 innings. Scouts love his poise; the Rays love how he gives manager Joe Maddon another option in September.
9 of 12Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Ortiz has been battling a sore wrist all year, but he's cranked six homers and driven in 22 runs already this month. He has a career .955 OPS in the month of September, which means that Big Papi may just be getting warmed up.
10 of 12Robert Beck/SI
His early slump was one reason that the ChiSox brought in Ken Griffey Jr. In 35 games since Junior's arrival, Konerko is hitting .319 with nine homers and a 1.055 OPS. Not that he felt any pressure to perform or anything.
11 of 12Porter Binks/SI
An MVP in 2006, Morneau is in the discussion again this year. His second half has not been as good as his first but, overall, without his 23 homers and 128 RBIs, both he and the Twins would be an afterthought.
12 of 12Jeff Zelevansky/SI
The Angels traded for their switch-hitting first baseman, foremost, to get a little punch in their lineup for September and October. He's hit .354 in Anaheim with 12 homers and 41 RBIs in 48 games. Consider the Angels punched-up.
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