While Major League Baseball does not name MVPs for the Division Series, we feel Sanders is most deserving of this honor.
In plating those ten runs, Sanders took possession of the NLDS series record for RBI despite playing just three games. The previous NLDS series RBI record was nine, set by then-Houston outfielder Carlos Beltran last season. However, it took Beltran five games to achieve the record.
The Division high-water mark for both leagues was set by
Sanders had an up-and-down 2005 regular season. At age 37, he was on the way to what might have been a career year before suffering a broken leg on July 15. It occurred during the first inning of the Cardinals' very first game of the second half of the season.
The Cardinals continued to win without Sanders due to the fine play of replacements John Rodriguez and So Taguchi. As a result, the team could be cautious with Sanders' return, allowing him extra time to get ready for October.
Sanders rejoined the Redbirds' lineup on September 12. But, without a
rehabilitation assignment, he initially struggled in the field and at the plate.
Sanders was 2-for-26 before breaking out in the
Sanders ended the regular season with 21 home runs and 54 RBI and a .271 average in 295 at-bats, helping to fill the gap created by third baseman Scott Rolen's shoulder injuries. Sanders was also 14-for-15 in stolen base attempts.
If he could have maintained that first-half pace, projecting it to 500
at-bats, Sanders would have ended the season with 36 home runs and 92 RBI, along
with 24 steals. The home runs would have been Sanders' career high, while he
exceeded 92 RBI only once, way back in 1995. Sanders last stole more than 24
bases in 1999, his only season in
After playing his first eight years in
If Sanders continues to contribute like this, he will make Cardinals General Manager Walt Jocketty think hard about re-signing him to a new deal, despite Sanders being 38 years old next season. But, there is some unfinished business in the meantime. Sanders and his teammates want eight more wins first.
Sanders' NLDS RBI:
Game 3, second inning: With starter Woody Williams on the ropes, Sanders slammed a bases-loaded, two-run double down the right field line to send Woody to the showers and extend the Cardinals lead to 5-0. Those turned out to be the winning runs.
Game 2, seventh
Game 1, third inning: Sanders shot a two-run single that struck the leg of the diving first baseman, doubling the Cards' lead against Jake Peavy and enabled them to not look back.
Game 1, fifth
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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