It's way too early to know if there is a new Mr. October on Oakland's horizon, but it's at least worth keeping an eye on the A's Yoenis Cespedes this month.
In Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers, the A's left fielder shrugged off the effects of a sore right shoulder to hit a triple and a two-run homer, producing the only runs the A's scored in a 3-2 loss.
He came back with two singles in Game 2, the second of which touched off the winning rally that culminated with Cespedes scoring from third base on Stephen Vogt's bases-loaded single in the ninth inning for a 1-0 win.
Those were the sixth and seventh games in Cespedes' short postseason career. But they added to a base that has the chance to be molded into a towering legacy in baseball's center stage month.
Cespedes has hit safely in all seven of his postseason games while batting .370 with an OPS of 1.006. Small sample size or not, those are impressive numbers.
There are some players who are just built for the spotlight, and Cespedes might be one of those. He floundered for most of the season, but when there was a chance that the A's might not make the playoffs, Cespedes shrugged off September shoulder issues to bat .314 with six homers. For a little perspective, his best average in the five previous months was .237 in July.
In his first pennant drive in 2012, he had seven homers and 19 RBIs in September/October as the A's chased down the Texas Rangers.
There are some classically great hitters who have wilted on the big stage. Just last year, Robinson Cano of the Yankees was a woeful 3 for 40 in the playoffs. A's RBI machine Miguel Tejada was 2 for 23 after having racked up 69 extra base hits and 106 RBIs in the 2003 season. Manny Ramirez drove in 165 runs in the 1999 season for the Indians, then went 1 for 18 in the playoffs.
Cespedes, though, can't do it by himself. As with any impact hitter, he needs some help in the form of lineup protection, and Seth Smith might be the man to provide it.
Smith had two hits as the D.H. Saturday, both after Cespedes hits. The second set up the winning run, and the threat of a hot, productive bat behind Cespedes figures to get him better pitches to hit.
All Smith did was hit .393 in September, even when he couldn't get in the lineup every day. He played in only 15 games and started just seven of those, but .393 might get respect from the other side. That can only help Cespedes.
Members of the A's starting lineup hit .522 (12 for 23) when they were batting in front of Smith during his September hot streak. Add in Cespedes on Saturday, and it's 14 for 27 (.519).
Cespedes is building a pretty good October resume already. Imagine what he'll do with a little more help from his friends.
(c)2013 Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)
Visit the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) at www.contracostatimes.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services