One of the wonderful things about baseball is that all nine players in the lineup get a chance to step up to the plate, not to mention the players coming off the bench. Unlike other sports, baseball teams can’t just leave it up to their best player every chance they get. That gives everyone an opportunity to make an impact. When it comes to the postseason, both stars and role players have the ability to provide some of their team’s best playoff moments. In fact, some of the best playoff hitters aren’t necessarily star players. They simply step up at the right time and then become known for providing one of the best MLB playoff performances of all time.
After all, hitting is a funny thing. If you can get red-hot for a week or two that happens to coincide with the playoffs, you can go down in history.
Best MLB Playoff performances of all-time
That got us thinking about some of the top offensive postseason performances. Whether it’s one game, one series, or an entire postseason, let’s take a look at our list of the best MLB playoff performances that we’ve ever seen.
10. Lou Gehrig, 1928 World Series
It’s rather fitting that Lou Gehrig had one of the best MLB playoff performances, albeit in just four games.
But in those four games, he hit four home runs and had nine RBIs, doing so in just 17 plate appearances. With those home runs, his OPS adds up to an astounding 2.433. It’s not his fault there was nothing before the World Series back then or that the Yankees swept the series. Well, actually, he is partly to blame for the Yankees sweeping St. Louis because that’s how good he was.
9. Kirby Puckett, 1991 World Series Game 6
Forget about the rest of the series or the postseason, Kirby Puckett did enough in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series to qualify as one of the best MLB playoff performances.
He hit an RBI triple and then scored a run in the first inning and then ended the game with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th to force a Game 7. In between, Puckett drove in a run with a sac fly and made an amazing catch to rob Ron Gant of a hit. He came close to singlehandedly winning Game 6 for the Twins and giving them a chance to win the series the following night.
8. Daniel Murphy, 2015
He homered in six straight games, including all four games of an NLCS sweep of the Cubs. Keep in mind that he hit those homers off of pitchers named Kershaw, Greinke, Lester, and others. Even though he cooled off in the World Series, Murphy had seven homers and 11 RBIs in 14 postseason games.
7. Randy Arozarena, 2020
A couple of months before the 2020 playoffs, nobody had ever heard of Randy Arozarena outside of the Tampa organization.
But the Rays knew what they had and the youngster played a huge role in carrying Tampa to the World Series.
With barely a month in the majors under his belt, Arozarena hit .382 with 11 extra-base hits, including seven home runs, in 14 postseason games.
6. Corey Seager, 2020
While the Dodgers had plenty of stars when they won the 2020 World Series, Corey Seager shined the brightest.
Over 18 games, he hit eight home runs to produce a .746 slugging percentage. In three of those 18 games, he had at least three hits and three RBIs, giving him 20 RBIs in the postseason, which is the second-most by a player in a single postseason. Since he won both NLCS and World Series MVP, it’s a safe bet that Seager had one of the top offensive postseason performances of all time.
5. Barry Bonds, 2002
Forget about any performance-enhancing substances he might have used during his career, Barry Bonds was just sensational during the 2002 postseason.
Surprisingly, Bonds didn’t get to the postseason that often during his career, but he took full advantage of this opportunity, even if teams continued to pitch around him. Despite a healthy dose of walks, Bonds still hammered eight home runs in 17 games, slugging .978 in those games. His team may not have won, but Bonds put on a show that few players can top.
4. Carlos Beltran, 2004
We know that Carlos Beltran turned this postseason run into a massive contract, which he rightfully earned with his performance for the Astros in 2004.
It helps that he had 23 home runs and an OPS of .926 in 90 games after a midseason trade to Houston. But then he hit .435 with a slugging percentage of 1.022 over his 12 playoff games. The only caveat is that his team lost the NLCS despite Beltran going 10 for 24. He finished the postseason that year with eight home runs and 14 RBIs in just 12 games.
3. David Ortiz, 2004
One of the great playoff stories of all time (sorry, Yankees fans) would not have been possible without Big Papi having one of the top offensive postseason performances ever seen.
His 12th inning home run in Game 4 of the ALCS is what sparked Boston’s unprecedented comeback from a 3-0 deficit. He finished that series with three homers, 11 RBIs, and ALCS MVP honors.
He didn’t stop hitting when he got to the World Series, which was far less dramatic. Nevertheless, David Ortiz finished Boston’s 14-game playoff run with a .400 batting average, five home runs, and 19 RBIs, cementing his legacy with the Red Sox.
2. Reggie Jackson, 1977 World Series
They don’t give you the name of Mr. October for nothing, and it’s a nickname that Reggie Jackson more or less earned in one night. During Game 6 of the World Series, Jackson hit three home runs, doing so against three different pitchers. Jackson’s third and final homer of the game came against knuckleballer Charlie Hough and traveled a good 475 feet, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was locked in that night.
Of course, most people don’t realize that Jackson finished the series with five home runs, including one in Game 5. In fact, because there were walks mixed in during Game 6, Jackson’s final four at-bats and final four swings of the series were all home runs.
1. David Freese, 2011
Needless to say, he was well protected in the St. Louis lineup, but Freese also came up big in clutch situations. He earned NLCS MVP honors by going 12 for 22 with three homers and nine RBIs.
However, Freese was just getting warmed up for his heroics in the World Series. With the Cardinals on the verge of elimination in Game 6, he hit a two-run triple to force extra innings. He then ended the game in the 11th inning with a walk-off home run to force a Game 7.
In that Game 7, Freese hit a two-run double to give himself a record-setting 21 RBIs in a single postseason. He also ended up hitting .397 over those 18 playoff games, creating some of the best playoff moments of all time in the process and giving Freese the best postseason performance of all time.