With the Blue Jays 2019 season officially over, Canadian baseball fans can now turn their attention to October baseball. Unlike last season, where Freddie Freeman was the only Canuck playing in the postseason, there will be plenty of Canadian storylines to root for this year. With potentially six Canadian players, this could be the most Canucks in the post-season since 2013.
This is your official Canuck Baseball Plus Guidebook for the 2019 Playoffs:
Last year the American League did not have any Canucks in the postseason. This year there will definitely be one and based on a recent speech by Astros Manager AJ Hinch, there could be another:
New York Yankees
James Paxton: after coming to New York in an off season trade, Big Maple had mixed results in his first year in the Big Apple.
Despite recording a career high in wins (15), Paxton struggled mid-season and actually saw his ERA north of four for much of the campaign.
But the big lefty, rounded into shape down the stretch. With the Yankees having no clear cut “ace” it will interesting to see how Paxton fits into the Yankees playoff rotation.
Abraham Toro had an impressive minor league in 2019 and finally got the call to the Majors in August.
Although he did not tear the cover off the ball in his rookie season (.218, .303 OBP, 2 HR, 9 RBI), the Montreal-native must have made an impression on the Astro’s Manager AJ Hinch. After clinching their third consecutive AL West title, Hinch made a post-game, locker room speech, where he referenced Toro.
Toro had an exceptional season in the minors, hitting a combined .324 with a .411 OBP between Double and Triple-A. He also brings a great deal of defensive flexibility (he can play first, second, third and has even caught as recently as 2018) to the Astros bench.
Whether this is enough to force his way onto Houston’s extremely talented roster and justify playing time, is yet to be seen.
The Braves are the most Canadian team of the bunch. If we were giving out awards for Canada’s best pitcher, hitter and rookie – the Braves would sweep all of these awards and their General Manger is Canadian as well.
Mike Soroka has emerged as one of the top stories for Atlanta this year and may have a claim to the NL Rookie of the Year and Cy Young this fall. Soroka was the only Canadian-born player at the 2019 All Star Game.
It will be interesting to see how the Calgary-native fits into the team’s rotation. Based off his 2019 stats, Soroka should be the team’s ace but Braves management may be cautious about putting a rookie up against the League’s other top hurlers.
Freddie Freeman also had an all star campaign, setting a career high in home runs (38), RBI (121) and runs (113). His 38 home runs in 2019 is the tied for the second highest single season total by a Canuck, behind Larry Walker’s 47 (1997).
The American-born and raised Freeman, who’s parents were both Canadian, will be an integral part of Atlanta’s lineup. Although he missed a few game near the end of the season, he is expected to be good to go by the start of the NLDS.
Off the field, former Blue Jays GM and Montreal native Alex Anthopolous is now running the show in Atlanta.
St. Louis Cardinals
Tyler O’Neill has seen limited action this season for the Cardinals but his ability to hit the long ball and play all three outfield positions, could make him an intriguing bench option for St. Louis.
Former Cardinals infielder Stubby Clapp now serves as the team’s first base coach. After leading the Memphis Redbirds to two consecutive Pacific Coast League titles (2017, 2018), the Windsor-native got the call back up to the Cards in 2019.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Russell Martin will bring his veteran leadership to the Dodgers bench this October. Unlike Paxton, Toro, Soroka and O’Neill, October baseball is nothing new for Russell Martin, as this will be his tenth appearance in the post-season.
Martin leads all Canadians in numerous all-time postseason categories. But 2019 will be quite different from his nine previous Octobers (3 with the Dodgers, 2 with the Yankees, 2 with Pittsburgh, 2 with Toronto). The four-time all star will likely serve as a backup to Dodgers rookie backstop Will Smith.
With four all star seasons, a Golden Glove, a Silver Slugger, nearly 200 home runs and over 100 stolen bases – a World Series ring may be all Martin needs to put a cap on his impressive career.
We will have to wait and see what the playoff rosters look like, but there is a good chance that this could be the most-Canadian October ever. With three Canadians currently on the three best teams in the MLB (Astros, Dodgers and Yankees) there could be several Canucks playing deep into the postseason. 2013 was the last time a Canadian appeared in the World Series, with Ryan Dempster pitching for the Red Sox and John Axford for the Cardinals.
(Top Photo: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)