The leaves are falling, the air is crisp, and in baseball, only the best and baddest remain. That can only mean one thing: October. Here are ten guys we have our eye on as postseason baseball takes the stage.
Aaron Judge, for the first time since his rookie year, put in a full season and re-affirmed his premier position among the game’s best. He also made the most talked about gear change of the MLB season.
Even after dropping his own shoe with adidas, Judge started the season in disguised New Balance 3000s. He missed a lot of time in 2020 due to calf injury, and with New Balance’s well-established reputation for comfort, its possible the tallest and heaviest centerfielder ever just needed a little more support.
With only two teammates batting better than .260 (Urshela and Stanton), the barrel of Judge’s Victus JUD99 35 inch, 33 ounce bat will determine how long the Yanks postseason run will be.
When Gabe Kapler took over for Bruce Bochy in 2020, the first decisive thing he did was platoon Brandon Crawford. One of the few remaining Giants with championship pedigree, Crawford didn’t whine about it. Instead, he came back in 2021 with an MVP season while leading the Giants to their best record in franchise history.
Crawford is a WPW first-ballot Hall of Famer and at times, a gracious contributor (he’ll DM us if we beg him for pics of new cleats). He’s also one of the most exciting players to watch.
Crawford has some of the sauciest cleats year in and year out, and his play makes them look even better. Crawford is that rare shortstop that makes the impossible look easy.
Keep an eye on his feet this postseason. Here’s a few Crawford throwbacks for your enjoyment:
Anybody who can slug .557 over 140 games with no batting gloves is worth watching. Kyle Tucker swings an Old Hickory JC1, which happens to be a very good choice for anybody in the market for a wood bat, and Tucker is proof.
According to Old Hickory, who is offering the JC1 for $149 custom:
“The Old Hickory JC1 is cut to the M110 profile. The JC1 has a medium barrel with a short taper to a thick handle that goes straight into the knob. This bat is great for the player looking for an evenly balanced bat with a long barrel. The JC1 is one of the most balanced wood bats in baseball.”
The M110 is one of the most enduring bat profiles in the game, first developed in 1944 and swung by Mickey Mantle, Didi Gregorius, Salvy Perez, Alex Bregman, Xander Bogaerts and Edwin Encarnacion have also made their mark with the M110. Tucker, in a sea of elite Houston hitters, will have plenty of opportunities to make his mark in 2021.
Corbin Burnes is rock and roll. His gear is no nonsense, but the rocker hair that he flips after every K, the power strut and the nasty cut make this Cy favorite a must-see performer.
While he got everybody’s attention by starting the 2021 season with 58 K’s without a walk to set an MLB record, October is Burnes’ first gig as “headliner,” and you’d better not miss the show.
Nolan Arenado will always be one to watch in any game he plays, from every angle. He’s as complete a player as there is in the game, having won every Gold Glove awarded since his debut (8), consistently driving in 100 runs, and manning his post at least 155 times a year.
When he was sent to St. Louis, our first thought after our condolences to Rockies fans was, “will his signature mint color be coming with him?”
The answer is yes, and even with cardinal red, it somehow remains glorious.
Arenado keeps the mint at a low decibel on his Nike Alpha Huarache Elite 3 mids when wearing the classic Cardinals red and white…
…but he lets it pop with the powder blues. Lets hope they wear these in the Wildcard vs the Dodgers for maximum ‘Nado swag.
Ordinary guys don’t come back from hip injuries and slug .622, but Luis Robert is no ordinary guy.
The adidas athlete enters the postseason as one of the game’s hottest hitters, forming a cold-blooded 1-2 combo with Tim Anderson that will have the opposition shivering from the 1st inning. Interestingly, Tim Anderson and Luis Robert swing the same bat: the Victus TA7, which is cut to an i13/AP5 profile. Robert’s is a 34/31, and you can get it custom at VictusSports.com for $200, or shop similar options, the HD13 or the more youth friendly YI13 for $140 at BaseballExpress.com.
Robert switched gloves from Wilson to Rawlings after a Gold Glove season, wearing the gold labels on a Rawlings Pro Preferred PROS303-6KB 13″ glove. Get this glove without the gold labels at Rawlings.com for $490.
WPW “Student of the Game” Kiké Hernández is the closest thing MLB has to a summer ball dirtbag, and I mean that in the nicest way. Kiké will play wherever asked, just get him in the lineup because he does something everyday to win a game.
That’s swag in itself. On top of that, he’s among the game’s most stylish players. His glove won last year’s “Best of WPW” and the cherry reds he’s sporting this year might just repeat.
Kiké gets his own player exclusive adidas cleats, and although they’ve released the next iteration of the Afterburner (the 8), he sticks with the Afterburner 7. We can’t argue with that choice. If the Red Sox make any noise, Kiké is going to be the life of the party.
Carrying the (bright) torch for the Harper 6, Wander Franco debuted as the second youngest Ray in team history (BJ Upton). Despite his youth, his cleats tell you that Wander will not stray from the spotlight. With an on-base streak longer than any other 20 year old to play the game, he dropped himself and his Cooperstown Bat WF4 Maple bat into the heart of the Rays formidable lineup.
According to Cooperstown Bat Co., Wander Franco’s WF4 (available for $100-$130) “has a large elongated barrel, a medium+ handle with a flared knob. The bat feel is balanced. Adding the weight under the hands allows this bat to swing lighter than the scale weight. We have found that this bat swings best as a -2. This model was designed with Wander Franco for batting for average and power.”
While Juan Soto will be a tough act to follow, here’s another 20 year old that could take over in October.
Julio Urias won three more games than any other pitcher in 2021. He went 11-0 to end the season. His team went 26-6 in games he started. What else matters?
The 25 year old Mexican-born lefthander, who was discovered by the Dodgers at a showcase in Oaxaca at 15 years old, wears his heart on his right hand.
Urias’ Rawlings Pro Preferred PRO207-4KR is a beautiful shoutout to his roots and one of the best gloves in the game. Its available for $490 at Rawlings.com.
Urias got some of the most critical outs in the 2020 World Series, and look for him when it matters most for the 2021 Dodgers, too.
The season could have been over for the Braves when Ronald Acuna Jr. went down in July. Instead, Austin Riley told the NL East to “hold my beer,” driving in 65 to lead all National League third basemen. Riley did most of his damage with a Marucci JD20 Maple bat at 34/31.5, as well as the AP5 and AJ12 occasionally. They’re all in the AP5/i13 family with a big barrel and tapered handle (AP5 – $160 at BaseballExpress.com.)
Riley led baseball in games played (160), relying on the Mizuno 9-Spike Dominant IC cleat on foot (BaseballExpress.com for $98).
Add range to his power and durability, as Riley led all NL third basemen in assists and finished 4th in the NL ahead of Manny Machado in range factor. His beautiful Mizuno Pro GMP2 is available exactly as you see here, thanks to Mizuno’s Pro Player Model Series. Get it for $350.
Time to get this thing started. Who ya got to win it all?
What about Cesar Hernández??