The Hunt for October is upon us. The 2018 MLB Playoffs are in high gear as the best clubs continue to slug it out to compete in this year’s Fall Classic. Over the past 10 days, in fact, the postseason landscape in the National League has gotten a whole lot clearer. First, the upstart Colorado Rockies ousted the Chicago Cubs, 2-1, in their one-game Wild-Card match-up before being swept out of the playoffs in their best-of-five-games NLDS series versus the Milwaukee Brewers. On the other side of the N.L. equation, the L.A. Dodgers bested the Atlanta Braves in four games to move on to their second straight NLCS, this time against the Brew Crew. Game 1 of the NLCS begins tomorrow (7:05 pm CT) at Miller Park.
With every pitch and swing being scrutinized, let’s look at some of the most sought-after autographs from the top ball clubs fighting to hoist the 2018 World Series Trophy. Since we pinpointed our coverage last week on top stars from the American League’s playoff contenders, this entry will focus on one popular player from each of the final four N.L. teams left standing this year.
BEST SIGNING SURFACE
Once again, for reasons ranging from affordability to outstanding presentation, we will investigate autographed baseballs stemming from the four players in their respective cities. The onus is on the collector, however, to have them signed in blue ink on the sweet spot and to get them authenticated by PSA/DNA. Independent, third-party verification is crucial if you ever hope to sell your prized signature in the future.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS
The Dodgers, World Series runners-up a year ago, are back with a vengeance. The team set franchise and National League records this year by hitting 235 homers during the regular season, and their long ball tear continued in their NLDS playoff victories over the Atlanta Braves. Leading the way in the postseason so far has been third baseman Justin Turner with a .357 BA (5-for-14). “RedTurn2” has been the Blue Crew’s spark plug since landing in L.A. in 2014. Last season he batted .322 and this season, while playing in just 103 games, he batted .312 with 14 round-trippers. The human dirt dog with flaming red hair is a fan favorite in the City of Angels and two of the biggest reasons why are his gritty play and timely hitting. To get a single-signed baseball from Turner would be a dream come true for any Dodgers fan, young or old.
The 2018 MLB season was a grind-it-out affair for the Brewers that actually lasted one extra game (No. 163) as they needed to beat the rival Cubs in a one-game playoff at Wrigley Field just to clinch the N.L. Central flag. Leading the way all season long was right fielder Christian Yelich. The 26-year-old slugger extraordinaire led the National League in batting average (.326), finished tied for second in RBI (110) and wound up third in home runs (36). He just narrowly missed nabbing the N.L.’s first Triple Crown since 1937! Yelich, the likely N.L. MVP this season, hopes to continue hitting the cover off baseballs vs. the Dodgers in the NLCS. Demand for his single-signed baseballs took a meteoric rise this season for obvious reasons.
Much like Colorado’s dream season of 2007, this year’s effort also came oh so close – but, alas, with no cigar. The Rockies battled the Dodgers for supremacy in the N.L. West the entire season and came up just one game shy (91-72) when all the dust had settled. Throughout the campaign, one player stood tallest in the Mile High city: Nolan Arenado. The power-hitting third baseman crushed a league-best 38 home runs, recorded 110 RBI and batted a steady .297. With his totals for the last four years showing 158 home runs and 503 runs batted in, nobody’s signature is hotter in Denver than Arenado’s! Though the Rockies came up empty in their NLDS showdown with the mighty Brewers, the seeds of success are firmly planted.
Compared to the N.L. Central and N.L. West champs, the N.L. East-leading Braves seemingly coasted to the finish line with an eight-game lead over the runner-up Washington Nationals. Much of the team’s 90-win success came courtesy of the red-hot bat swung by 20-year-old left fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. The first-year standout belted 26 round-trippers, knocked in 64 runs and batted a steady .293 in 487 plate appearances. Although Atlanta surrendered to the Blue Crew in four games, the Braves did show signs of life in their NLDS battle, especially in Game 3 when Acuna belted a second-inning grand slam in what turned out to be a 6-5 victory for Atlanta. The sky definitely is the limit for this up-an-comer and his autograph signings have only just begun.