clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Sanders back in postseason again

Reggie Sanders
Reggie Sanders

ST. LOUIS — Reggie Sanders is playing for his seventh team in seven seasons, and he almost always lands with a winner.

The St. Louis Cardinals left fielder has made it to the postseason for the fifth time — on four different teams, no less.

"I think a lot of it has to do with timing being able to look at certain teams and having the opportunity to pick from those teams and those teams wanting me to be on them," Sanders said Tuesday. "I've been lucky."

Two of those teams, the 2001 World Series champion Diamondbacks and 2002 World Series runner-up Giants, eliminated the Cardinals in the playoffs. Now, making his fourth appearance in five years, he'll try to help put St. Louis in the World Series for the first time in 17 seasons.

"What he brings to a clubhouse is great," teammate Larry Walker said. "I can't figure out why he doesn't stick with a team longer than he does."

The biggest reason is a succession of one-year contracts, along with two trades, although the Cardinals gave him a chance to plant roots with a two-year, $6 million contract in December.

Another reason is he's never been the big stick in the attack. Sanders has decent power and good speed, and he's the first player in major league history to hit 20 homers for six teams, but he's never driven in 100 runs and batted .300 only once.

The 36-year-old outfielder has a typical supporting role in the best lineup in the major leagues this year, batting seventh and hitting .260 with 22 homers and 67 RBIs. The same went for the division series, where he contributed a solo homer and one RBI while going 4-for-14 in the Cardinals' four-game triumph over the Dodgers.

Sanders hasn't been a productive player in the postseason, entering the NLCS opener against the Houston Astros on Wednesday night with a .192 cumulative average. In 161 at-bats, he has five homers and 13 RBIs.

Still, his homer in Game 4 against the Dodgers was one of the key hits in a clinching 6-2 victory. And he's well-regarded by the team for his easy disposition that helped keep the team loose for the NLCS.

"You have more media and the following is much greater," Sanders said. "What I've learned is you have to negate all of that, and you just have to go out and do what you've got to do — treat it as a regular series, a regular game. Because the emotions that come with the postseason can overwhelm you as a player."

Sanders was 2-for-16 in the 1995 NLCS with the Reds with 10 strikeouts in 16 at-bats and was 1-for-16 as recently as the 2002 NLCS.

"It's still a learning process," Sanders said. "Of course, each time you go through it, it gets easier and easier, but it's a learning process."

Like most of the Cardinals, Sanders puts little stock in the Astros' 10-8 series advantage. Houston was the only team in the NL with a winning record against St. Louis, although three of the games came right before the Cardinals clinched the Central on Sept. 18 and a later three-game sweep in Houston came while the Cardinals were coasting to the finish.

"You don't want to take anything away from them and what they've done this year," Sanders said. "It's something they can really feed off, coming into this series.

"For us, we really have to be in tune with what we've done all year long, and that's play good baseball, and not really be too caught up in what they've done to get here."