KANSAS CITY -- No one knows what player is going to rise to the occasion, dominate the World Series and win the coveted MVP trophy.
These recent Hall of Famers have done it: Reggie Jackson for the A's in 1973 and the Yankees in '77, Willie Stargell for the Pirates in '79, Mike Schmidt for the Phillies in '80, Paul Molitor for the Blue Jays in '93, Tom Glavine for the Braves in '95 and Randy Johnson for the D-backs in 2001.
Future Hall of Famers Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter (for the Yankees in 1999 and 2000, respectively) and David Ortiz (for the Red Sox in 2013) have also won the World Series MVP.
"It feels great when you're in that type of zone," said Ortiz, who hit an incredible .688 (11-for-16) with two homers and six RBIs in 2013 when the Red Sox defeated the Cardinals in six games. "The funny thing is that everyone kept asking me about it and I kept saying, 'I've had plenty of times when I was that hot.' In this case, it just happened that it was in the World Series."
Here's also a short list of guys who had a great World Series, won the MVP and didn't make as much of an impact again: Bucky Dent for the Yankees in 1978, Pat Borders for the Blue Jays in '92, John Wetteland for the Yankees in '96, Troy Glaus for the Angels in 2002, and David Eckstein and David Freese of the Cardinals in '06 and '11.
And then there was Josh Beckett, the MVP for the World Series-winning Marlins over the Yankees in 2003, who came back four years later and was MVP of the American League Championship Series for the Red Sox against the Indians before Boston went on to sweep the Rockies in the 2007 World Series.
"Some of it is being naïve and being stupid," said Beckett, who started and won the deciding sixth game at Yankee Stadium in 2003 on three days' rest, and was 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA in four starts for Boston in the 2007 postseason. "That's how we were in '03 with the Marlins. We were just stupid enough not to know what we were doing. Sometimes that ignorance is bliss."
Daniel Murphy, who has seven homers this postseason, including a record current streak of six games in a row, is another one who rose out of oblivion to excel for the Mets in their sweep of the Cubs in the National League Championship Series. Of course, Murphy was the MVP.
It remains to be seen whether he will remain that hot in the World Series. Take Steve Garvey of the 1984 Padres, for example. Garvey was All-World against the Cubs in the NLCS, hitting .400 (8-for-20) with a Game 4-winning homer and seven RBIs. Against the Tigers in losing a five-game World Series, Garvey batted .200 (4-for-20) with no homers and two RBIs.
Will Murphy mimic Beckett or Garvey?
"They ought to just go ahead and enshrine [Murphy] or something," said Ron Cey, one of three MVPs for the Dodgers in their six-game World Series victory over the Yankees in 1981, along with Steve Yeager and Pedro Guerrero, the only time that's happened. "This game is what, 140 some years old? And there have been plenty of great players. None of them achieved what he's done in this postseason.
"It's incredible, really. He's a guy who's certainly a good player, but now he's in a zone that no one has reached. It's pretty phenomenal."
The same was said about Dent when he came out of nowhere to hit .417 (10-for-24) with seven RBIs in New York's six-game 1978 World Series win over the Dodgers. That capped a phenomenal October, which began when his homer into the screen above the Green Monster at Fenway Park helped the Yankees win a crucial one-game playoff for the American League East title.
A year earlier, Jackson won the World Series and the MVP with three homers on successive pitches off three Dodgers at the old Yankee Stadium to polish off Game 6. That performance capped an incredible six games. Jackson had five homers and eight RBIs and batted .450.
His third homer of the final game off knuckleballer Charlie Hough was launched deep into the black batting eye in dead center field and earned him the nickname "Mr. October."
"I felt like I was floating around the bases on a cloud after hitting that one," Jackson said at the time.
Cole Hamels was another MVP, who remained hot from series to series. In 2008 for the Phillies, Hamels won the MVP of their five-game victory over the Dodgers in the NLCS and then came back and wrapped up the same honor when his club defeated the Rays in a rain-delayed, five-game World Series.
Hamels was 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five starts for the Phillies that postseason.
"I think the postseason's where it's at. This is what we get trained for," Hamels said. "I think to get there you have to lay it all on the line because sometimes you don't get a second chance."
The Royals have previously played in the World Series three times, and right-hander Bret Saberhagen was the MVP of their seven-game victory over the Cardinals in 1985. Saberhagen was 2-0 with a 0.50 ERA and complete games in both starts.
In Kansas City's losses, Philadelphia third baseman Schmidt hit .381 (8-for-21) with two homers and seven RBIs (1980), and last year, San Francisco left-hander Madison Bumgarner had an epic World Series, winning two games as a starter, saving Game 7 in relief and allowing just one earned run in 21 innings as the Giants beat the Royals.
Bumgarner had a postseason for the ages: 4-1 with a 1.03 ERA in seven appearances, six starts. Giants manager Bruce Bochy brought him in on two days' rest to open the fifth inning of Game 7, and with two outs in the ninth and a runner on third, Bumgarner retired Royals catcher Salvador Perez on a foul pop to end the Series.
"Him going five innings, you knew he was going to be the MVP," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "I mean, what a Series."
Schmidt played on that 1980 Phillies team with fellow Hall of Famer Steve Carlton and Pete Rose, the all-time leader with 4,256 hits -- among a bevy of other talented players.
"The World Series MVP could have gone to Bake McBride, Bob Boone, or Larry Bowa. Maybe even Tug McGraw. But they chose me," Schmidt recalled. "One guy can't win it without teammates also playing great. That Series I seemed to do something in every game. An RBI, base hit, score a run, something. I hold that award near and dear as it completed the 1980 season."
The Mets have been to the World Series four times, winning twice, but their MVPs are not named Tom Seaver, Gary Carter or Darryl Strawberry. First baseman Donn Clendenon, a key midseason acquisition from the Expos in 1969, batted .357 (5-for-14) with three homers and four RBIs, and was the MVP as the Miracle Mets stunned the much stronger Orioles in a five-game series. Clendenon was a part-time player for the Mets the following two seasons.
And it was third baseman Ray Knight who was honored for tearing up the Red Sox in 1986 to the tune of .391 (9-for-23) with a homer and five RBIs as the Mets came from behind to win that Series in seven games. Knight never again played for the Mets, leaving for Baltimore as a free agent prior to the '87 season.
Jackson, then with the A's, was the star of Oakland's seven-game win over the Mets in 1973. And Jeter (.409, two homers) wiped them out in a five-game set, the last time the Mets were in the World Series in 2000.
Again, one never knows who's going to come up big in this situation. The greats, the near greats or the greats for just that period.
"I want to be up in those spots," Ortiz said. "Those are moments that are remarkable when you are playing on that stage. It's a ride-or-die situation. The focus, the experience and the responsibility that you put into it and the hard work -- it will pay off."