One player can mean the difference between making the division series, facing the Wild Card Coin Flip Game or getting an empty October schedule.
Last month, 84 players totaled 0.8 fWAR or better -- guys whose efforts added a win or more to their team's record in August. Essentially, there are many hitters and pitchers who can provide the value of a win in September, which is crucial when several playoff races look like they could be decided on the final weekend.
It's not just the big names who could swing these pennant chases. Here are five players acquired after the non-waiver trade deadline who could put their new teams in the playoffs.
Adam Dunn, 1B/DH, Athletics
You can blame some of Oakland's August struggles on the sputtering offense. The A's scored 3.6 runs per game and recorded a .646 OPS in the post-Cespedes era, essentially turning themselves into the Padres. Now that's offensive.
Enter King Three-True-Outcome, Adam Dunn. He has been performing about as you would expect from Dunn: .215/.329/.440 on the season.
More on Adam Dunn
More on Adam Dunn
He has also smacked 20 home runs in 106 games, typically strong for Dunn, so he could hit a few important home runs down the stretch as Oakland plays to ensure (at least) they will host the Wild Card.
Dunn still has the most games played among active players with no postseason appearances (1,976), and he will "probably" retire after the season. If he doesn't make the playoffs this time, he's ((puts on sunglasses)) Dunn.
Josh Willingham, OF, Royals
All Willingham has been is a consistently great hitter for nearly the last decade. Consider that his career OPS-plus of 121 matches that of Carlos Beltran, Dale Murphy and Dave Parker.
He is certainly not young Carlos Beltran in the outfield, but still, why is this guy so underrated?
For his many trips around the league, Willingham has never played in the postseason. If he can lead Kansas City to a historic playoff berth (and he has already posted a .866 OPS for KC in 15 games), Willingham may just do what ever player dreams of doing: being properly rated. Oh, and playing in October.
Roberto Hernandez, SP, Dodgers
The Artist Once Known As Fausto Carmona may just shaking off his horrendous 2013. He recorded a 3.93 ERA as a starter in Philadelphia, albeit with iffy peripherals (periffyals?).
The latest entrant in the Name That Dodgers Fifth Starter show has made three quality starts in four outings, posting a 3.52 ERA, 15 strikeouts and 8 walks in 23 innings. That's a nice No. 5 if he can keep it up.
A few more good turns from Hernandez would help ensure the Dodgers avoid the Wild Card Game and get home field advantage for the NLDS.
John Axford, RP, Pirates
Axford may be Pittsburgh's second-best righty reliever simply by default. Dancin' Mark Melancon remains dynamite as the Pirates' closer, but Walking Regression Time Bomb Jared Hughes (2.06 ERA, 3.86 xFIP, 3.47 SIERA) is starting to see his results sour despite great work generating ground balls.
Though Axford has averaged one walk every seven batters this season for one of the worst rates in baseball, he can still pick up plenty of strikeouts. This is not the lights-out Pirates bullpen of last season; the Bucs may need Axford to perform well late in games against right-handed hitters to catch up to the Cardinals and Brewers.
Gordon Beckham, 2B/3B, Angels
The Angels' odds of winning the AL West are hovering around 90 percent, per FanGraphs and Baseball Prospectus. Their chances are certainly strong, but a general manager can never be too careful when trying to stay out of the Coin Flip Game.
So Jerry DiPoto brought in Beckham, a fine No. 9 hitter and second baseman as these things go. Angels fans should not expect much more than continued mediocrity from the infielder.
But maybe you believe a little more and see Beckham benefiting from a change of scenery, and hey, he did hit 16 home runs two years ago.
Every little marginal upgrade counts when one game in the standings separates a World Series dance card from a long, cold winter.