All things July (i.e., the All-Star Game and the non-waiver trade deadline) are behind us, and that means the dog days of the 2012 season are upon us. And that means it's time to neglect all other duties and responsibilities so that we might give the various playoff races our full and undiluted contemplation.
Today, in this space, we shall aid you in this most righteous quest.
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We are posing this question: Which players figure to have the most bearing on the playoff races? Stated another way, which players need to either keep doing what they're doing or, in some cases, do the opposite of what they've been doing in order to give their teams the best chance to play in October?
Some of these guys are deadline additions, some are incumbents not living up to expectations, and some have been better than ever. What they have in common, though, is a critical role on a certifiable contender. While no team's hopes are reducible to a single player, the names that follow will indeed go a long way in determining who plays for the belt and the title later this season.
And now let us get to ranking ...