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X-Factors for each NL playoff team

MLB Player Freddie Freeman dawning an all grey baseball uniform, the jersey reads "Dodgers." Background is blurred out, with the fans in the background.
Photo via Todd Kirkland/GETTY IMAGES

The 2022 World Series Playoffs are upon us! It's a magical time where anything can happen and anyone can step up in the big moments! The National League has been on a streak of 3-straight World Series with the previous two winners -- LA & Atlanta -- looking to reclaim their title this year. But don’t count out St. Louis, the Mets, Padres, or Phillies who are all hungry for their chance at glory. If any of these teams are going to extend the NL’s streak to a fourth year, it’ll take the impact of these X-Factors to take them there.

Los Angeles Dodgers (111-51)

X-Factor: Freddie Freeman

After smashing records with their 111 win season and leading the league in most offensive and pitching categories, the Dodgers have it all. As the favorites from the National League side, the Dodgers are so good all around that it will just take their best stars to shine for them to be successful. X-Factor Freddie Freeman won the championship last year and looks to earn another ring with his new team but will likely have to go through his old home grounds to get the job done. But, as long as he and the rest of the Dodgers top dogs show up like they are supposed to, this team will look like true world beaters.

Atlanta Braves (101-61)

X-Factor: Two Star Rookies (Grissom & Harris II)

Last year’s World Series Champions had a year filled with ups and downs but consistently persevered. Without Acuña Jr. to start the year and Ozzie Albies out most of the year with injury, the Braves still managed to chase down the Mets and win their division. However, the two most surprising factors came from their two rookies: OF Michael Harris II and 2B Vaughn Grissom. Look for these two young phenoms to step up in their lineup and come up with clutch hits like they have all season for a team that may be without Ozzie Albies for the extended future.

St. Louis Cardinals (93-69)

X-Factor: Starting Rotation

This is their last dance. St. Louis is seeing their immortal trio of Molina, Wainwright and Pujols go for one more run as a group to recreate the magic of 2011. David Freese was the unsung hero that year and it will take another player like that to show their prowess this year for the Cards to go far. Offensively there are many players one could highlight as underrated factors but this postseason they will live and die by their rotation. The top three of Wainwright, Mikolas, and Jose Quintana need to stay consistently above their numbers for this team to make a deep run.

New York Mets (101-61)

X-Factor: Pete Alonso

I feel like one of the more overshadowed players this season has been Pete Alonso. Mostly because the slugger across the subway in Aaron Judge hitting 62 homers but Alonso shouldn’t be overlooked. He hit 40 home runs of his own and MATCHED his total of 131 RBIs, an insane amount. Potentially the NL MVP, despite losing out on the division, has a chance to change the current narrative around this Mets team. If this is the Mets year, Polar Pete will be at the heart of their success, driving in runs and hitting moonshots out of Citi Field.

San Diego Padres (89-73)

X-Factor: Juan Soto

The biggest splash of the 2022 Trade Deadline was Juan Soto going to the San Diego Padres who, despite the absence of star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., have made their way into the Wild Card Game. Unfortunately for them, Soto started off extremely cold. He wasn’t hitting anywhere like what he was used to and Padres fans were worried. After starting to pick it up in the latter half of the year, Soto will be the biggest X-Factor for the Padres. At the top of his game, Soto could personally send San Diego deep into the playoffs, however a flop of a year could spell disaster for his next contract and Padres management.

Philadelphia Phillies (87-75)

X-Factor: Bullpen

2022 has been a year of curse-breaking as the Mariners and Phillies managed to break their long droughts of making the postseason. For Bryce Harper and co., things have finally started to look like they were supposed to be when he left Washington to join Philly. However, it will fall to the Phillies bullpen to step up and push this team forward. They have big mashers and a one-two punch of Wheeler and Nola but a shaky back-end can be an achilles heel for many teams hoping for success. David Robertson will be relied upon heavily late in games and other bullpen guys have to be up to the task of the postseason, especially in the absence of Corey Knebel.


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