Lourdes Gurriel Jr.
After coming off a down season with the Jays in 2022, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. joined the Arizona Diamondbacks for 2023 after being included in the offseason trade for Daulton Varsho. As one would have guessed, Gurriel would end up having a career year with the Diamondbacks, posting career highs in runs scored (65), doubles (35), and home runs (24), along with chipping in with 82 RBI en route to his All-Star season with his new ballclub.
As much as he had been faulted for some of his inconsistent defence during his tenure with the Jays, he had definitely raised his game to another level in 2023 as he committed zero errors, added eight outfield assists, along with an impressive 14 DRS in 160 chances and 778 innings played in the field in 2023. Both his offensive explosion and drastic defensive improvement definitely would have helped the Jays this season with their playoff aspirations. Sad to say, he is just doing it now for the Diamondbacks.
In terms of coming up clutch when the team needed him most, it was Gurriel that provided the key game-tying double in Game 3 of the NLCS for the Diamondbacks that ultimately changed the entire game and momentum of the series. At the time, the Philadelphia Phillies had held them scoreless for 17 consecutive innings, but with the Gurriel breakthrough, they eventually came back to win the game, giving them all the hope and confidence that as the underdog, they could actually beat the powerhouse Phillies. That momentum carried right into Game 4 as they came back to win once again for a second consecutive day to tie the series 2-2. If the Diamondbacks manage to do the impossible and end up taking the series, they could look back to Gurriel’s defining moment in the playoffs, while the Jays are left to only ponder what could have been.