SportsChannel8 isn’t typically in the business of creating baseball content, but for at least the next several days, the World Series will be the center of the sports universe. Okay, maybe not the center of the sports universe, but like… it’s at least a top 3 sporting event this week, right? RIGHT?!
You may be a casual baseball fan, but there’s still a chance you already know about the stars of the upcoming series; guys like the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and Manny Machado or the Red Sox Mookie Betts and Chris Sale. Those guys are easy. If you’re gonna try to hold your own with the baseball nerds at the water cooler over the next several days, these next 8 guys are the names you didn’t know you needed to know.
1. Kiké Hernández
I debated not even including Kiké on this list. “The player you didn’t know you need to know” is kinda Kiké’s whole schtick. Like… it’s a role that’s so perfect for him that there’s a slight chance that you actually do know him because he’s so perfectly suited for his role. Kiké’s become a bit of a cult hero in LA. He’s bubbly and fun in an interview. He’s a super utility player who’s played every single position this season except catcher, and he’s a fan favorite at Dodger Stadium. Keep an eye on him. He’ll likely do something at some point that’ll make you glad you’ve heard of him before. Hell, maybe they’ll let him catch.
2. Brock Holt
Brock Holt is really just the Boston Red Sox version of Kiké Hernandez. Who hits for the cycle in an ALDS game against the New York Yankees? Brock frickin’ Holt. That’s who.
— Max Gongaware (@maxgongaware) October 22, 2018
3. Max Muncy
Who is Max Muncy? Okay, odds are, if you’ve paid any attention to the 2018 baseball season, you know who Max Muncy is by now. But if you’d have asked me 6 months ago, I’d have said, “who the hell is Max Muncy?” Muncy didn’t record a single big league AB in 2017. But somehow, he’s hit 35 home runs in 2018. He even participated in the 2018 Home Run Derby! Incredible, considering the only reason the Dodgers even gave him a chance this year was because of early-season injuries to Justin Turner and Corey Seager. The Dodgers are going to rely on him to split time at 2B and 1B and be a big part of their offense during this World Series.
4. Ryan Brasier
Ryan Brasier is a 31-year-old who basically nobody knew existed until early October. He was drafted in 2007. He made seven appearances with the Los Angeles Angels in 2013. Then he spent some time in the Oakland Athletics farm system in 2015 and 2016. Last year, he played with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp in Japan. Right now, you could make an argument that he’s the Red Sox best reliever out of the bullpen. Craig Kimbrel isn’t very good right now. And then there’s Rick Porcello… who’s not even normally a reliever. How is Ryan Brasier doing what he’s doing right now?
5. Nathan Eovaldi
During the 2017 postseason, Nathan Eovaldi helped OUR DURHAM BULLS win a AAA National Championship. He was traded from Tampa Bay to Boston in July of this year and he’s played a major role in getting the Red Sox to the World Series. He’s gone 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in 14.1 innings pitched thus far this postseason. Plus, the man has had two Tommy John surgeries and can still throw 100mph.
6. Caleb Ferguson
Have y’all ever seen the movie “Little Big League”? After his grandfather dies, 12-year-old Billy Heywood becomes the manager of the Minnesota Twins and helps the team of underdogs earn a chance at the postseason. Throughout the movie, one of Billy’s friends repeatedly suggests that a little-used, unknown pitcher by the name of Wedman should get to play more often. Heywood finally takes his friend’s advice and surprises the world by starting Wedman in a one-game playoff against the Seattle Mariners for a shot at a postseason berth. Wedman pitches admirably, but the Twins end up losing in the 9th inning on an improbable Ken Griffey Jr. catch (sorry for spoilers). I’ve got a feeling Caleb Ferguson is the Dodgers’ version of Wedman. The 22-year-old lefty has yet to make a postseason appearance and has only made 29 career appearances, but he’s gotta be on the roster for a reason, right?
Taking a look at the Dodgers' postseason roster and I'm pretty sure Caleb Ferguson is the Dodgers' version of Wedman. pic.twitter.com/FZ2wOBxFmm
— Max Gongaware (@maxgongaware) October 23, 2018
7. David Freese
You’re probably thinking to yourself, “wait a second… I know that name. Why do I know that name?” It’s because Freese was the World Series MVP back in 2011, as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. He single-handedly ripped the heart out of Neftali Feliz and the Texas Rangers. He was a bad man. But then he kinda disappeared with the Los Angeles Angels and the Pittsburgh Pirates for several years. The Dodgers very quietly picked him up off waivers from the Pirates back in August and now he’s back in the World Series. Maybe – just maybe – he’s got one more moment in him. I’m hoping so.
8. Blake Swihart
Eh… actually. You probably don’t need to know Blake Swihart. For some reason, the Red Sox have a 3rd catcher on their postseason roster and he’s not going to play much (if at all). Go ahead and continue ignoring this guy.