Top 5 Players to Watch: Cardinals vs. Braves (Acuña, Donaldson, Molina, Flaherty, Wong)

We did the position-by-position breakdowns for Wild Card, but we figured you guys would be more likely to read this if we shortened it up for modern attention spans.  Lets cut right to the chase and give you the six players in the Cardinals vs. Braves NL Division Series that we are most looking forward to watching.

Ronald Acuña Jr.

This was obvious.  Ronald Acuña Jr. is the player to watch, perhaps in the entire Postseason field.  With Trout home in October (again), this might be the field’s best player (Bellinger, Judge, Altuve, Bregman, Springer may have a say in that).

Acuña Jr. likes to get his arms extended, and in turn, pitchers like to pitch him inside.  To protect himself, he wears Evoshield’s double strap elbow guard ($75 at Evoshield.com) and the Rawlings Mach EXT helmet extension ($17 at Rawlings.com).

Acuña Jr. has worn every cleat that New Balance offers, including the 4040v4 (above, $30 at Baseball Express), 4040v5 ($45-$150), 3000v4 ($75-$110), and even the pro exclusive 997 (which we did an unboxing on).

 

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Check these out! New Balance sent me a pair of the first ever 997 cleats to celebrate “Grey Day.” The same cleats were sent to Ronald Acuña, Francisco Lindor, Jose Altuve and other NB athletes. There was no mention of a release for these. According to NB: “This September, New Balance is celebrating over a century of independence with a color that proudly represents its heritage and has come to be synonymous with the brand: grey. First introduced in 1980, the all-grey colorway was made to allow footwear to fit into people’s existing lifestyles and cater to urban running, challenging the popular neon and brightly colored footwear trends of the 70s and 80s. More than just a hue, grey represents New Balance’s state of mind and the leading attribute they look for when partnering with an athlete – one of fearless independence. That’s why this year, New Balance created the Grey 997 baseball cleat.”

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Even Adam Jones, a Nike contract player, had to admit these were dope!  Keep a close eye on Acuña Jr.’s footwear in this series and please comment if you notice anything new.

We also saw Acuña Jr. drop his SSK glove in favor of a Rawlings PRO303, so we’ll be keyed in on that, too.

Josh Donaldson

With the Acuña craze, its easy to forget that Josh Donaldson is still one of the most exciting players in the game.  Since Alex Bregman left his beautiful camel Marucci glove behind two seasons ago, Donaldson is now the torch-bearer for Marucci’s glove line.

Known for their bats, which are the most popular in MLB, Marucci has made a commitment to gloves.  Donaldson has worn at least two Marucci gloves this year.  He is currently wearing a Founder’s Series I-Web 11.75″ glove in black with white trim.  This is another beauty from Marucci, though its an old model that is only available on the secondary market (see options on SidelineSwap).

To start the year, Donaldson wore a Marucci Founder’s Series glove in Braves colors (pictured above) with a custom twist.  Josh’s glove was also a “CMOD,” which means it had a molded lining specific to Josh’s hand and two in the pinky playing style.  This is a Carpenter Trade x Marucci collaboration focused on making a glove fit perfectly to a player’s hand.  We first reported on this back when Ben Zobrist added it to his Rawlings.

(Images via @carpentertrade)

When I was at Spring Training, I had a brief moment with Josh when he actually let me put my hand in this glove, and it was quite nice, though it was molded for Josh’s hand, not mine.

Here’s a couple other Marucci pieces that we’ve seen Donaldson toting in the past:

Donaldson is also a prime candidate to debut some new cleats, which Nike tends to do around this time of year.

He had some of the sickest customs, done by @smokinaces1, of Players’ Weekend, and you can expect something fresh for the playoffs.

Yadier Molina

The #catcherswag First Balloter Yadi Molina will strap on Jordan catcher’s gear for the first time in MLB Postseason history in this series.

Will the Cards unleash the baby blues?

Or stick to the classics?

 

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👽! @typhotos

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No matter what, you can expect the footwear to be fresh.  It looks like he’s wearing the new Jordan 1s in all white in pregame.  The 1s are buyable via Nike.com.

Yadi’s Jordan batting gloves are beauties, too.

Lets not forget the catcher’s mitt, which has been fundmentally the same for years, but Yadi recently gamed a gold trim version to match the gold patches.  This is a PROYM4, available for $360 at Rawlings.com.

Jack Flaherty

 

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Jack Flaherty is the youngest Cards pitcher to record 200+ K’s in a season!

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With a 0.91 ERA since the All-Star break, 23 year old Jack Flaherty is good enough to shift the outcome of a series.

While we were in the building, we only got to see Jack run the bases.  He came in as a pinch runner.

The man is an athlete and while simple, we really liked these customs.  Can’t wait to see him pitch on the big stage.

Kolten Wong

Kolten Wong is a MAX SWAG player… just look at his left arm!  You can’t fit any more swag on there.  Crazy Rawlings Hypershell V-Web 31 pattern, personal logo on a wristband and compression sleeve, and an added cause wristband (maybe Strikeout Cancer) for good measure.

Three-stripe socks… tatts…

…Custom adidas Afterburner 5 Hawaii-themed cleats…

Bringing relentless swag head-to-toe, Kolten is one of our favorites in the game.

Its guaranteed to be a great series for swag.  So, who ya got?

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