The best of the best are left, but only the better will move on.
The ALCS will see a Texas showdown between the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. Houston is on a repeat quest after winning the 2022 World Series while Texas has never won it all. Now it'll look to achieve that while seizing state-wide bragging rights.
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Then it's Philadelphia and Arizona in the NLCS. The Phillies are hoping to quell the anguish from losing the World Series last year, while the Diamondbacks are eager to taste success again after last winning it all in 2001.
It's the start of two best-of-seven series that'll be draining and full of key moments, but these four players may hold the keys for their respective franchises.
Here are each team's biggest game changer in the 2023 ALCS and NLCS:
Houston Astros: Yordan Alvarez
The key factor for Houston in this series is that it has a group that's been there and done it. The Astros haven't shied away from the big moments and continuously return to the premier stages and seek grand fortune. They've been quite dominant yet again in 2023, with some of their veteran bats like Jose Altuve maintaining high form.
Instead, though, Yordan Alvarez gets the nod here for the pace he's held. The 26-year-old left fielder has 16 at-bats this postseason, leading to seven hits, seven runs, six RBIs and four home runs. Having a .438 batting average in any playoff setting is just absurd, yet Alvarez is thriving in high-pressure moments. If he keeps this up, there shouldn't be any problems in Houston returning to the World Series.
Texas Rangers: Corey Seager
Man, would the Los Angeles Dodgers sure like to have a clutch batter right now. Former Dodger Corey Seager has flourished in a different blue jersey, as he's been on an incredible run himself with Josh Jung, Evan Carter and Adolis Garcia also doing the heavy lifting for the Rangers.
Seager gets the nod here for having six hits and six runs in just 14 at-bats, good for a .429 batting average. It's the same as Carter, but Seager, who also has three RBIs and one homer like Carter, also has been walked a team-most 11 times (Carter has six). Even if you keep him away from hitting, he'll still manage to punish you. It's a tricky pick-your-poison situation.
Philadelphia Phillies: Bryce Harper
Statistics can definitely help, but sometimes they don't always tell the full story. If you look at Philly, you'll see Trae Turner has eight hits and four runs in 20 at-bats, good for a .400 batting average. Turner also posted two RBIs and a home run. But there are those players who just step up and snatch the spotlight like lightning, and that's Bryce Harper.
Harper most recently stole the show when he stared down Atlanta Braves shortstop Orlando Arcia twice after hitting two home runs in Game 3 of their NLDS series. That went along with his six hits and seven runs in 17 at-bats, an average of .353. He also has logged five RBIs, three homers and has been walked five times. Harper has been a man of the moment for a while, and the city needs him to keep providing such.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Corbin Carroll
Talk about a meteoric rise for one of MLB's most promising young stars. Diamondbacks left fielder Corbin Carroll was a first-round pick in 2019, made his MLB debut in 2022 when he played 32 games, then made the MLB All-Star Game in 2023 after shining across 153 regular-season games.
That form has translated to the playoffs, where Carroll has logged seven runs and six hits in 17 games for a .412 batting average to go with four RBIs, two homers and six walks. He's just 23 years old, keep in mind, and is leading this Arizona squad to bright things.
Ketel Marte, Christian Walker, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Gabriel Moreno and Tommy Pham have also delivered in a well-balanced team effort, but they'll need to maintain such levels to go the distance this season.