MLB.com Columnist

Paul Hagen

Pitch in: Best postseason staffs

Deepest staffs in LCS history helped strong-arm their teams into the World Series

Pitch in: Best postseason staffs

When the 1983 American League Championship Series opened on an 81-degree October afternoon, the Baltimore Orioles were confident. They boasted a young rotation that led the league with 15 shutouts and an impressive bullpen. Although their staff ranked second in the American League in ERA, there was no way to know that just 11 days later it would complete one of the most dominant postseason runs since the advent of division play in 1969.

While polishing off the White Sox in what was then a best-of-five LCS format and steamrolling the Phillies in the World Series, Baltimore's pitchers posted an aggregate 1.10 ERA, held opponents to a .202 average and compiled a 0.951 WHIP.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

6 upstart teams that made Fall Classic runs

6 upstart teams that made Fall Classic runs

The 2014 Royals were the latest team to seemingly come out of the woodwork to reach the World Series. But while Kansas City deserves a world of credit for its magnificent run, the club should not be regarded as an outlier or even an exception.

After all, the Fall Classic encourages precisely this kind of transformation. Here are a few more upstart teams that surprised the baseball world in their quest to make the World Series.

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Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Top 10 pitching performances in World Series history

Top 10 pitching performances in World Series history

1. Madison Bumgarner, 2014 World Series
Had Madison Bumgarner never toed the rubber in Game 7 for the Giants against the Royals, his two victories earlier in the Fall Classic likely would have earned him Series MVP honors anyway. But in tossing five shutout innings on the road in Game 7, Bumgarner authored the most impressive relief performance in Fall Classic history. By the end, Kansas City had mustered just a .127 batting average off Bumgarner. Royals skipper Ned Yost described the experience as "hopeless." 

2. Christy Mathewson, 1905 World Series
At the dawn of the 20th century, New York Giants hurler Mathewson ranked as the game's greatest pitcher. The right-hander's shining moment came in the 1905 World Series, when threw a record three consecutive shutouts in six days against the Philadelphia Athletics, a mark that has never been matched. During those 27 flawless innings, only one Philadelphia runner managed to advance past second base. The team ultimately fell to the Giants in five games.

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David Crawford Jones is a freelance writer and baseball historian based in Ohio. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Best dynasties in baseball history

Best dynasties in baseball history

Dynasties come around unexpectedly, and when they do, there is an undeniable fascination with those teams that exist above the fray. In the midst of yet another postseason, let us look back at a few of the greatest dynasties in baseball history and remember the qualities that guided them in their quests to conquer the Fall Classic.

1947-56 Dodgers
1 title, 6 World Series appearances

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Eric Enders is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Agents of change: Stars lead to WS titles

Impactful signees have quickly ushered adopted franchises to success

Agents of change: Stars lead to WS titles

As this summer's non-waiver Trade Deadline reminded us, it can take just one player to transform a team from second thought to contender. The same principle applies to the flurry of free-agent signings that now mark every offseason.

It is a ritual now four decades old, as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark decision that ushered in the free-agent era. When pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally successfully challenged the reserve clause that had long limited player mobility, they paved the way for unprecedented parity, with 22 different franchises hoisting World Series championship banners from 1976-2014.

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David Crawford Jones is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Best LCS in history: The clinchers

Best LCS in history: The clinchers

The best LCS in history have been fraught with drama as Fall Classic hopefuls lay it all on the line.

In 1980, Philadelphia remained the only MLB franchise since 1903, the year of the inaugural Fall Classic, that had never won it all. But that season, they overcame a 2-1 deficit in the NLCS to subdue Houston and set up a meeting with the Kansas City Royals in the World Series. The Astros players struggled mightily to accept their defeat.

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Relive the best mid-1980s World Series performances

Relive the best mid-1980s World Series performances

The atmosphere throughout Kansas City was raucous back in 1985. Delirious Royals fans and players alike toasted the city's first-ever MLB championship -- an improbable seven-game triumph over their intrastate rivals from St. Louis, which had begun with the Royals losing their first two games at home.

Game 7 marked Bret Saberhagen's second World Series win. In 18 Fall Classic innings, he allowed just one run and 11 hits. If anybody had a right to tear the town apart after an incredible win, it was Saberhagen. Instead, he headed to the hospital to commemorate an even more personal milestone.

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Michael Bradley is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cole talks postseason, offseason in Q&A

Cole talks postseason, offseason in Q&A

Almost two years to the day after the Pirates selected Gerrit Cole with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 Draft, the UCLA product took the ball for his Major League debut. Four months after that, he started two games against the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Division Series. Talk about a quick return on investment. The hard-throwing, 25-year-old right-hander has since developed into one of the finest pitchers in the league, and Pirates fans believe his best is yet to come.

This season, he boasted a league-leading 13 victories at the All-Star break, earning his first Midsummer Classic nod. Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen and fellow moundsmen A.J. Burnett and Mark Melancon accompanied him to Cincinnati as members of the NL squad, proving that Cole is no one-man show in the Steel City. Still, the Pirates hadn't been to the postseason for more than two decades (1992) before he arrived, but they've qualified in all three years since Cole joined the rotation. That's the type of impact No. 1 overall picks are supposed to have. In the midst of a highly-competitive NL Central race, MLB spoke with Pittsburgh's ace about his coming-of-age in the spotlight.

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Jim Lachimia is the editor of Pirates First Pitch magazine. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cain takes center stage for Q&A

Center fielder chats about Royals' past -- and future -- postseason prowess

Cain takes center stage for Q&A

When the Royals burst onto the national stage last October, fans everywhere got perhaps their first extended look at the fun-loving, fearless, wall-crashing style of play of Lorenzo Cain. Royals fans had seen Cain patrol the outfield with reckless abandon for years. Now it was the nation's turn to fall in love with his speed, grace and, of course, that electric smile. A Gold Glove candidate in center, Cain put on an amazing display during the 2014 postseason with an array of diving grabs in the alleys and body-bruising catches against the fences. A popular tweet at the time reprised an old quote about Phillies outfielder Garry Maddox: "Water covers 72 percent of the Earth. Lorenzo Cain covers the rest."

Is Cain #AwardWorthy? Vote now for Best Defensive Player

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Jeffrey Flanagan covers the Royals for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

High school struggles can translate to big league success

High school struggles can translate to big league success

Sometimes in baseball, the end actually marks a beginning -- you just don't always know it at the time. I certainly didn't last spring when my 17-year-old son came home to tell me he'd been cut loose from his high school baseball team.

I wanted to help him cope with the disappointment. But instead of telling my son to gut it out, I figured I'd show him how, by finding guys who had similarly gotten cut or barely played in high school, yet eventually made their way onto Major League starting lineups.

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Craig Tomashoff is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Fred Zinkie

16 for '16: Breakout players to consider next year

16 for '16: Breakout players to consider next year

Oh, 2015. What a year. The year of the youngster. Let's take an early look at the next wave of fantasy baseball stars. The following 16 men are no older than 25, but have already helped their clubs during this season's playoff push and are due for even bigger things in the near future.

Carlos Correa, SS, Astros
Correa burst into the big leagues on June 8 and reached the top tier at his position in short order, an extremely impressive feat for a then-20-year-old rookie. With the potential to tally 30 homers and 30 steals next year, Correa could easily be the first shortstop taken in 2016 fantasy drafts.

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Fred Zinkie is a senior fantasy baseball writer for MLB.com. Keep up with MLB.com's fantasy coverage on Twitter, @fantasy411. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.