Often credited as the essential piece in the Yankees' last four World Series titles, Rivera's postseason credentials are unparalleled. The greatest closer in baseball history has pitched in 76 playoff games, posting an 8-1 record with a 0.77 ERA and 34 saves. In 117 1/3 innings, Rivera has struck out 93 hitters while walking just 16.
2 of 8Robert Beck/SI
Manny hasn't enjoyed a great 2009 campaign (hitting just .255 since the All-Star break), but he's one year removed from a spectacular postseason showing. Ramirez hit .520 with four homers and 10 RBIs in eight postseason games last October.
3 of 8Chuck Solomon/SI
Hunter is a very experienced postseason player with 25 playoff games under his belt (and a .316 batting average). But in five postseason appearances, Hunter has only made it beyond the Division Series once.
4 of 8Howard Schatz/SI
The biggest game changer in baseball today guided the surprising Cardinals to a 91-71 record and easy division championship (finishing 7 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Cubs). A slam dunk pick to win his second consecutive National League MVP, Pujols hit .327 with an MLB-high 47 homers and 135 RBIs.
5 of 8Chuck Solomon/SI
Following a stellar first half, Beckett struggled down the stretch, posting a mediocre 4.53 ERA after the All-Star break. He also received cortisone shots recently for back spasms. But there's no denying Beckett's postseason brilliance. The power right-hander has started 12 playoff games, going 7-2 with a 2.90 ERA. He helped carry two teams to titles, winning the World Series MVP with the Marlins in 2003 and the ALCS with the Red Sox in 2007.
6 of 8Chuck Solomon/SI
The 2006 National League MVP enjoyed another fabulous season in Philadelphia, smacking 45 home runs and tying (with Prince Fielder) for the major league lead with 141 RBIs. Howard helped guide Philadelphia to its second title, hitting three homers in five World Series games.
7 of 8Brad Mangin/SI
Tulowitzki has reestablished himself as one of the game's top young players after an upsetting sophomore campaign in 2008. Tulo hit .297 with 32 homers, 92 RBIs and 101 runs. But the shortstop was ineffective during Colorado's run to the World Series in 2007, hitting .195 with 14 strikeouts in 41 at-bats.
8 of 8Rod Mar/SI
The likely American League MVP won his third batting title (in just his fifth full season) with a career-high .365 batting average. He also led the American League in on-base percentage (.444) and slugging percentage (.587). Not to mention he plays Gold Glove-caliber defense behind the plate.
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