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Four Teams, Four Veterans, and One Ring

The 2017 World Series matchup has yet to be decided. It has come down to a pennant race between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees in the American League, and the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs in the National League. Each team this postseason has a veteran on their staff looking to etch their name in the record books.

The Los Angeles Dodgers have the youngest veteran of the four discussed. At the ripe age of 36, outfielder Curtis Granderson has seen 14 MLB seasons with four teams. With 319 career home runs and three all-star game selections, Granderson has been in search of the one thing all veterans in his position seek: a ring. Granderson is no stranger to the fall classic: his 2006 Detroit Tigers and 2015 New York Mets both fell short in their respective series. Granderson’s highlights include the entirety of his 2011 season with the New York Yankees. In that season, Granderson stole 25 bases, hit 41 home runs and led the league in runs batted in (119) and runs scored (136).

Granderson’s veteran adversary in the National League Championship Series (NLCS) is 38-year-old pitcher John Lackey. Lackey, a 2016 World Series Champion, hopes to repeat the feat with the rest of the Chicago Cubs. Lackey is among active MLB World Series champion leaders with three rings. However, Lackey is the only active MLB player to win three rings on three different teams (2002 Anaheim Angels, 2013 Boston Red Sox and 2016 Chicago Cubs). Lackey’s performance in the 2002 postseason is noted among the strongest rookie efforts in playoff sports. The 23-year-old right hander won a highly publicized Game 7 some 15 years ago. Statistically, John Lackey’s best season was with the 2007 Angels. The competitive Texan posted a 19-9 record and led the league with a 3.01 earned run average.

The American League pennant race has its share of veteran strength, namely Game 3 winning pitcher C.C. Sabathia. The 37-year-old lefty made his MLB debut in 2001 at the age of 20. Sabathia went 17-5 and finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year race behind expected Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki. Since then, Sabathia has pitched his way to a Cy Young Award (2007), a World Series Championship (2009 New York Yankees) and amassed a career record of 237-146. In 17 seasons, Sabathia has pitched 3,317 innings and struck out 2,846 batters. He is the active career leader in both categories. After posting three consecutive losing seasons, Sabathia proved to be capable in 2017 by posting a 14-5 record. The workhorse hopes to win his second World Series after a stellar comeback season. Sabathia has a career postseason record of 10-5.

The oldest player this postseason is Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran. The 40-year-old has spent half of his life playing in the MLB. In 20 seasons at the professional level, Beltran has been on 9 all-star teams (2004-2007, 2009, 2011-2013, 2016) and won three Gold Glove awards (2006-2008). In 1999, as a member of the Kansas City Royals, the 22-year-old Beltran recorded 194 hits, 22 home runs, 27 stolen bases and 108 runs batted in. He was selected as the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year for his efforts. Beltran has enjoyed a lengthy career that has dipped into three decades (1990s, 2000s and 2010s). His 2004 season may be his strongest. Spending the season split between the Kansas City Royals before being traded to the Houston Astros at the all-star break, Beltran smashed 38 home runs, 160 hits, 104 runs batted in and set a career high with 42 stolen bases. He signed with the New York Mets following that season and spent seasons with the San Francisco Giants, St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees and Texas Rangers before returning to Houston this season. He has a career total of 2,725 hits, 435 home runs, 312 stolen bases and 1,587 runs batted in.

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