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Unexpected breakthroughs that could impact October

Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

Christian Yelich was a deserving MVP candidate for the Brewers in 2018, but even he couldn't get Milwaukee to the playoffs single-handedly. Without Wade Miley's shocking 2018, featuring a 2.57 ERA over 16 starts, Milwaukee doesn't even get to the playoffs, let alone get within a game of the World Series.

That's baseball for you, where you can't just ride your stars to the championship. Imagine the New England Patriots if Tom Brady participated in only 15 percent of the plays or the Golden State Warriors if Stephen Curry could take only a few more shots than Draymond Green every season.

The teams that make the playoffs in baseball invariably will need to get some surprising performances from their non-stars as well as their top players. Looking at the very early races, I picked some of my favorite "lesser" players who are in the right position to push their teams into fall baseball if they reach their 2019 upside.