Numerous Former Cougars in MLB Postseason

Alums such as Miguel Cabrera, Sean Doolittle and A.J. Burnett aiming for World Series crown

By Shawn Touney / Kane County Cougars | October 1, 2013 6:11 AM ET

Updated Thursday, 10/31.

A pair of Cougars alumni are first-time World Series champions. Pitchers Ryan Dempster ('96 Cougar) and Andrew Bailey ('07 Cougar) are celebrating today along with their Red Sox teammates after Boston defeated St. Louis to claim the Fall Classic. Dempster made three relief appearances in the post-season for Boston while Bailey was sidelined with an injury.

With the exception of the two recent World Series championships by the St. Louis Cardinals (2006 and 2011), there has been at least one former Cougar on each World Series winner since 2003.

Updated Monday, 10/21.

The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals meet in the World Series beginning with Game 1 on Wednesday evening. Former Cougar Ryan Dempster ('96) has been shuffled out of the post-season rotation but has pitched relief in a pair of games for the Red Sox. This will be the first World Series for Dempster in his 16-year career.

While he won't factor into the games beginning Wednesday, another former Cougar, Boston pitcher Andrew Bailey ('07) made 30 relief appearances for the Red Sox before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

With the exception of the two recent World Series championships by the St. Louis Cardinals (2006 and 2011), there has been at least one former Cougar on each World Series winner since 2003.

Updated Monday afternoon, 10/14.

Now in the championship series round, there's still a good contingent of former Cougars battling for a World Series ring. Three of the four remaining teams (Dodgers, Tigers, Red Sox) are represented by at least one former Cougars player.

In the NLCS, the Dodgers were unable to win either of the first two games on the road against St. Louis, and now return home for a pivotal Game 3 this evening. It'll be a tall order as they face Cards righty Adam Wainwright. 

Infielder Adrian Gonzalez ('01 Cougar, batting .304 this postseason), outfielder Andre Ethier ('03) and pitcher Ronald Belisario ('02) are Cougars alumni on the Dodgers postseason roster. The Cardinals don't field any Cougars alumni on their postseason roster.

Boston and Detroit are squared away at one game apiece in their best-of-seven ALCS. 

Detroit infielder Miguel Cabrera ('01) has a pair of home runs in seven postseason games. Boston's postseason roster includes pitcher Ryan Dempster ('96), who has made one appearance out of the Red Sox bullpen.

Updated Monday morning, 10/7.

A full slate of four playoff games await baseball fans today, beginning with Detroit/Oakland in ALDS play around lunchtime. Here's updates on several former Cougars who are chasing a World Series dream. A total of nine Cougars alumni are represented below.

Detroit and Oakland are even at a game apiece as the series shifts to Motown today. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera ('01) has singled in each of the two games in Oakland but the team has been held in check offensively, batting just .219. Cabrera has reached base safely in all 26 of his career postseason games, dating back to his time with the 2003 World Series champion Florida Marlins.

Oakland pitcher Dan Straily ('10) is expected to start for the A's in a pivotal Game 4 on Tuesday. The young right-hander led all American League rookies in wins (10), starts (27), strikeouts (124) and innings (152.1) in 2013. He's expected to oppose Detroit righty Doug Fister.

Another A's pitcher, Sean Doolittle ('07), pitched 1.2 innings of scoreless relief in Friday's Game 1 loss.

Boston can close out their ALDS matchup against Tampa today. Pitcher Ryan Dempster ('96) has pitched out of the Red Sox bullpen, throwing the final inning in Friday's Game 1 win. 

NLDS play includes a matinee between Pittsburgh and St. Louis later today. A Pittsburgh win will send St. Louis home. Pirates pitcher A.J. Burnett ('98) labored through a forgettable Game 1 loss against the Redbirds and if Game 5 becomes a reality, the right-hander could be back on the bump for a make-or-break game. Fellow Pittsburgh pitcher Vin Mazzaro ('06) pitched an inning of scoreless relief in Game 1. This is the Pirates' first trip to the postseason since 1992.

A trifecta of Los Angeles Dodgers and former Cougars are one win away from advancing to the NLCS. Their offensive output in Game 3 tied a franchise record for most runs in a postseason game. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez ('01) is batting .357 in the series and drove in a pair of runs in Sunday's 13-6 win. Outfielder Andre Ethier ('03) has been relegated to a pinch-hitting role in each of the first three games. Pitcher Ronald Belisario ('02) has pitched scoreless relief in two games.

Updated Tuesday 10/1.

As the 2013 Major League Baseball postseason begins this evening, several Kane County Cougars alumni begin their quest for a World Series title. Here's a look at several former Cougars who are vying for a World Series ring this fall.

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera ('01 Cougar) is considered a front-runner for the American League MVP award, which Cabrera won last year during his historic Triple Crown season. During the 2013 regular season, Cabrera batted a Major League-best .348 with 44 home runs and 137 RBI in 148 games. Cabrera was part of the 2003 World Series champion Florida Marlins squad. Cabrera, who will be 30 years old on Opening Day next spring, has a lifetime batting average of .321 with 365 home runs and 1,260 RBI.

Oakland Athletics pitchers Sean Doolittle ('07) and Dan Straily ('10) were instrumental in the Athletics' second consecutive American League West division championship. Doolittle made a career-best 70 relief appearances for Oakland and posted a 3.13 ERA. Straily was a 10-game winner in the Athletics rotation, going 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA. While postseason rosters haven't been formally announced yet, both infielder Jemile Weeks ('08) and pitcher Pedro Figueroa ('09) made late-season appearances with Oakland.

While Boston pitcher Andrew Bailey ('07) won't factor into the Red Sox postseason because of season-ending shoulder surgery, the right-hander went 3-1 with a 3.77 ERA in 30 relief appearances. Bailey was the 2009 American League Rookie of the Year and a two-time Major League All-Star while with Oakland. Fellow pitcher and teammate Ryan Dempster ('96) was 8-9 with a 4.57 ERA in his first season with the Red Sox. Earlier this season, he recorded his 2,000th Major League strikeout.

Pittsburgh is back in the post-season for the first time since 1992 and hosts Cincinnati this evening. Pitcher A.J. Burnett ('98) won 10 games or more for the 9th consecutive season, and his 209 strikeouts were the most for the right-hander since 231 punchouts in 2008. Burnett was also the first pitcher in Pirates history to strike out at least 200 batters. Further, Burnett's 3.30 ERA was his lowest since 2002. Like Dempster, Burnett struck out his 2,000th career big league batter earlier this season. Burnett is a two-time World Series champion (2003 Marlins, 2009 Yankees) and will attempt to win a third crown with three different teams. Another Pittsburgh pitcher, Vin Mazzaro ('06) had his best professional season in 2013. The right-handed reliever went 8-2 with a 2.81 ERA in 57 appearances.

The Los Angeles Dodgers won the National League West division for the first time since 2009. Infielder Adrian Gonzalez ('01) collected 100 RBI for the 6th time in his big league career while also belting 22 home runs. Outfielder Andre Ethier ('03) is nursing an ankle injury, putting his postseason plans in jeopardy. Ethier batted .272 with 12 home runs and 52 RBI this season. Pitcher Ronald Belisario ('02) made 77 appearances out of the Dodgers bullpen, a career best.

While the Tampa Bay Rays roster doesn't field a former Cougars player, their broadcast team includes a familiar name in Dave Wills, who was the radio voice of the Cougars during the franchise's inaugural 1991 season.

Since the Cougars' inception in 1991, more than 120 former players have reached the Major Leagues, several of which have won accolades in the postseason including World Series MVP's Josh Beckett ('00) in 2003 with Florida and Edgar Renteria ('93) with San Francisco in 2010. Past league championship series MVP's include Beckett in 2007 with Boston, along with Nelson Cruz ('03) with Texas in 2011.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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