MLB Playoffs Collage
Baseball Lakewood LB In MLB Millikan Wilson

LB in MLB: A Handful of Long Beach Guys Competing in MLB Postseason

After an extended and exciting Wild Card chase, the Major League Baseball playoffs are officially underway across the country, with a dozen teams in contention for a world title.

There’s plenty of Long Beach talent in the field this year, along with some who barely missed out on the festivities.

Starting in the National League, the Atlanta Braves have the best record in baseball and are searching for their second world title in three years. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud has had another solid season representing Lakewood High School, and will be a valuable piece of a stacked Braves lineup this October.

In the NL Central, the Milwaukee Brewers cruised to a division title. They brought up former Dirtbags lefthander Clayton Andrews for four appearances during the regular season, starting with his MLB debut on July 1.

There are a few more Dirtbags from different generations among the NL Wild Card teams, including the Miami Marlins, who are making just their second playoff appearance in the last 20 years. In his first season with the club, Garrett Hampson has played very well down the stretch to earn regular playing time at shortstop and in the outfield. 

Hampson has improved at the plate to produce the best offensive season of his career, hitting .275 with a .348 on-base percentage. His speed ranks in the 97th percentile of all big leaguers, and the positional flexibility he’s displayed–at least 5 games played at six different positions–make him a very valuable commodity during the playoffs. This will be Hampson’s first playoff experience since 2018, when he appeared in two games for Colorado.

Also back in the playoffs are the Arizona Diamondbacks, featuring veteran 3B Evan Longoria. The Long Beach State legend has been a part-time player for the D-Backs this year, hitting 11 home runs in 74 games, but his leadership and veteran presence is valuable for a young Arizona team. Longoria, 37, could be in his final season in the big leagues and is just 70 hits shy of 2,000 for his career.

The Cincinnati Reds are among the teams who just missed the postseason this year, including former Millikan Rams star Spencer Steer, who had a phenomenal rookie campaign. He hit .271 with an .820 OPS, racking up 23 home runs, 86 RBIs and 15 stolen bases while playing five different positions.

Over in the American League, the top seed is under the guidance of a former Dirtbags player and coach. Brandon Hyde is in his fifth season as manager of the Baltimore Orioles, leading them to an AL East title and 101 regular season wins. Hyde played for Long Beach State in 1997 and was a volunteer assistant coach with the program in 2002.

Hyde has been managing another Long Beach guy, Wilson High’s Aaron Hicks, who has been great in 65 games with the O’s this season. After coming over from the Yankees, Hicks has been rejuvenated to the tune of a .275 batting average, .806 OPS and seven homers in 200 at-bats for Baltimore. He’s also been playing terrific defense in the outfield and adds a switch-hitter to the Baltimore lineup.

In Houston, Jon Singleton will have a shot at some postseason baseball with the Houston Astros. Singleton made his long-awaited return to the big leagues in a brief stint with the Milwaukee Brewers this June, and has spent the last two months with the Astros.

The Seattle Mariners just missed out on postseason baseball this year, but it wasn’t for lack of effort from stud shortstop J.P. Crawford. The former Lakewood Lancer had the best season of his career, taking over the leadoff spot with a .380 on-base, .818 OPS, 19 home runs and 94 runs scored.

Crawford also delivered a heroic moment during the final series of the year against Texas, smashing a walk-off single to the warning track in left field to give the M’s a 3-2 win over their rivals. Seattle was down to its final out, trailing by a run with two outs and the bases loaded, but Crawford came through with one of the biggest hits of the MLB season to preserve their playoff hopes a little longer.

The Wild Card rounds get underway on Tuesday with the Divisional Rounds set to begin on Saturday.

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Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.