Who will be Tribe's Cody Ross or Edgar Renteria?
As the excitement of the MLB playoffs arrives with the crisp air of fall, heroes of the season begin to come to mind. So often, it’s not the stars who step up and make a huge impact for the team that eventually wins the World Series, it’s the role players.
Teams that make it that far always have good players, but it’s the team with the role guys who step up at crucial times and deliver that seem to make or break that magical season.
As the Cleveland Indians make their way toward a possible playoff berth, one of these role players comes to mind.
Edgar Renteria hit a soft liner up the middle off of Charles Nagy in extra innings of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series to help defeat the Tribe and keep Cleveland fans everywhere mired in their murky mode of perpetual futility.
Renteria was a solid player, but on the ’97 Marlins he was an offensive blip after big names like Bobby Bonilla, Moises Alou, Gary Sheffield and Charles Johnson. I’m sure manager Mike Hargrove wasn’t game planning for Renteria.
Renteria was a light-hitting shortstop who happened to get the game and series-winning hit for the Marlins. It was just one at-bat, you might say, but it wasn’t the only time he came up huge.
In 2010, the now veteran Renteria played in only half of the San Francisco Giants regular season games, and played sparingly in most of the games during the early rounds of the playoffs before putting on a power display and stunning Cliff Lee and the Rangers in the World Series, where Edgar won the MVP.
In August of that same year, Cody Ross was a post-trading deadline waiver pickup by the Giants, partly to block the front-running San Diego Padres from claiming him.
All Ross did was help the Giants overcome the Padres and win the NL pennant, where he went on a tear and was named the MVP of the NLCS when he homered twice in Game 1 off of the Phillies’ Roy Halladay and followed that up by homering off of Roy Oswalt in Game 2. The Giants went on to claim the World Series over the Rangers.
So in 2010, the Giants pulled all the right strings, but nobody ever would have guessed that Ross and Renteria would carry the team to victory.
Both players have had successful, albeit non-spectacular careers as a whole. Both have been well-traveled. Yet both came up big when the lights were the brightest.
If the Cleveland Indians push their way into the post-season, who might be their Ross or Renteria?
Staying with the well-traveled "R" guy, maybe Ryan Raburn?
Like the other two, Raburn has been a solid, but not outstanding, major leaguer over his career, which he has spent exclusively with the Detroit Tigers until this season. He was released at the end of 2012, and the Indians scooped him up as a minor league free agent. Along with Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes, who were brought over in a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, the trio forms an outstanding bench for the Tribe.
The Indians picked up big names like Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn over the winter, but it has been guys like Raburn who have really impacted the Indians, which also feature Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana.
It remains to be seen if Cleveland even makes the playoffs. But if they do, you can bet there will be a Ross or Renteria who has something to do with it.
Who do you think it will be?