With the postseason races heating up, many fanbases are excited for their teams to make a push toward a World Series title. For some teams, though, their playoff hopes have already been dashed, leaving them to look to the future.
Yet there are still plenty of reasons to tune in every night. Here’s one player to watch down the stretch for every non-contender — defined here as having postseason odds of 0% as of Wednesday — as we get into the dog days of summer. (Note: While fans can also look forward to the arrival of top prospects, we’re only considering current big leaguers here. All stats are as of Thursday).
Pirates: Bryan Reynolds, OF
Reynolds has quietly turned himself into one of baseball’s most productive outfielders and a must-watch player in a matter of months. The Vanderbilt product is now a true five-tool player and probably the best position player to come through the Steel City since Andrew McCutchen. During McCutchen’s NL MVP award-winning season in 2013, Cutch hit .317/.404/.508 with 21 home runs in 157 games. Reynolds' slash line is nearly identical with a little under two months to go and he just crossed the 20-homer plateau as well. He’s even matched McCutchen with the glove, leading all NL outfielders in Outs Above Average.
Rockies: Brendan Rodgers, SS/2B
It’s been a rough year for Rockies fans, but there has been one player who might give them a little solace. Rodgers has finally broken out after a few years of prospect limbo. Once rated as high as MLB Pipeline’s No. 6 overall prospect in 2016, Rodgers had some injuries and unproductive showings in the big leagues in 2019 and ‘20 that slowed his hype train down. He's now making good on that promise, though, slugging .485 in 59 games this year. If he can stay on the field and continue to swing the bat, the Rockies won’t have to look far for Trevor Story’s replacement if he leaves as a free agent this offseason.
D-backs: Josh Rojas, UTIL
The D-backs still have a few pieces of their core left in Ketel Marte, David Peralta, Carson Kelly and Zac Gallen, but injuries and a shaky supporting cast spelled trouble for them early on this year. They may have uncovered a diamond in the rough in the process, however. Rojas has been the most versatile player on the roster, playing in both corner outfield positions and filling in at second base, shortstop and third base while blasting double-digit homers at the plate. Rojas might not get much recognition come awards season, but there's no doubt he's been one of the D-backs most valuable players this season.