The World Series is finally here, though not with the teams most expected to be here. Texas, sure, fair game, they had great odds for the series, but the Cards were heavy underdogs to even get past their opening opponent in the Phillies. We’ll take a look here at what this series could bring, by utilizing a position by position analysis. All betting odds come from Bodog.
Game One Moneyline: TEX (21/20), STL (4/5)
Game One Total: 7.5
SERIES PRICES: TEX (20/31); STL (27/20)
A Position by Position Analysis of the Teams
TEX – Mike Napoli & Yorvit Torrealba; STL- Yadier Molina
You have to give the edge here to Texas. Napoli hit .320 from the plate and Torrealba brings great experience to the table. Molina is solid, but doesn’t compare to Napoli.
1B – TEX- Mitch Moreland & Michael Young; STL- Albert Pujols
Obviously, the former MVP Pujols is the obvious pick here. He has been great in the post season this year and is always a threat to go deep. When Pujols is clicking, the Cardinals’ heart of the lineup is very dangerous. Mitch Moreland is a big game player. Young brings a lot of punch to the DH spot, but the point here is that Pujols trumps the Rangers’ options by a healthy margin.
2B – TEX- Ian Kinsler; STL- Nick Punto & Ryan Theriot
Kinsler is the starter at 2B for the AL and has been a power threat for the last few seasons. He hit 32 homers this season, and 31 in 2009, though his batting average has only been in the .250s. Still, Kinsler offers a lot that Punto and Theriot certainly don’t, at least offensively. Texas holds a huge advantage at this position.
SS- TEX- Elvis Andrews; STL- Rafael Furcal
Furcal was definitely worth acquiring from the Dodgers this season. He’s long been respected as an excellent defensive player and is a relatively decent option at the plate, too. He isn’t the threat on the basepath that he once was, but he’s getting up there in years now (He is nearly 44). Even in 2010, in 97 games, he stole only 22 bases; this year, only 9. He’s still capable of hitting in the .270s probably, but only hit .255 this season with the Cardinals, and only .197 while with the Dodgers prior to the trade.
Elvis Andrews offers a little bit of what Furcal used to. Andrews hit .279 from the plate and scored 96 runs, while stealing 37 bases. At one point, these two players would have been comparable, but at this point it is Andrews who offers the better option at shortstop.
3B- TEX- Adrian Beltre; STL- David Freese
Freese has been nothing short of amazing. Ordinarily we would go with the house hold name in Beltre, but Freese hit .545 in the series against Milwaukee, while drilling 3 homers, as well. Beltre decreased from 2010, going from a .321 hitter to a .296 average. He did hit more homers this season, though, with 32 in total (compared to 28 in 2010 with the Red Sox). He has already been relevant since 1998 and should turn in another good decade, but that is an unnecessary digression because Freese is red hot and gives the Cardinals an odd edge in a matchup that really would ordinarily go Texas’ way.
OUTFIELD- TEX- David Murphy / Josh Hamitlon / Nelson Cruz
STL- Matt Holliday, Jon Jay, Lance Berkman
Matt Holliday really returned to form against the Brewers. He hit .435 from the plate. Holliday has had four multi-hit games this postseason and capped off the Brewers series by going 5 of 10, while hitting 2 RBIs and scoring 3 runs. Holliday hit under .300 for the first time since his rookie season in 2004, but he remains a top notch hitter capable of big games. At age 31, he is no longer the young buck he was in Colorado, but he still has a lot of good years left, obviously. Jon Jay hit .297 from the plate, and hit .300 in 2010. He doesn’t bring a lot of power (10 HR), but he’s quick and scored 56 runs this season. His .344 OBP is solid, too. Berkman is still as good as ever, and hit .301 this season with 31 HRs, his most since 2007 when he hit 34 as a member of the Astros. He drove 94 runs home and scored 90 himself, while appearing in 145 games this season. Even at age 35, Berkman has not showed any signs of slowing down at all.
Josh Hamilton was nowhere near the stud this year that he was in 2010. His ridiculously good .359 batting average fell to .298 and he hit only 25 home runs. His .411 OBP went all the way down to.346, and he had 31 fewer at bats, as well. Hamilton is only 30, but this year was his worst since his rookie season (if you throw out his injury plagued 2009). Nelson Cruz increased his power this season, while decreasing his effectiveness. He hit 29 homers, his most since 2009, but his average dipped well under .300 after hitting .318 in 2010. He did appear in 124 games and log a lot of innings, but the increase in at bats did not increase production. David Murphy hit .275 from the plate with 11 homers. He has two multi-hit games so far this post season, though, having gone 3 of 4 from the plate in a 7-3 win over the Tigers and 2 of 2 in a 15-5 rout in the final game against Detroit.
Overall, if Hamilton regresses to the mean, you have to give the overall edge to the Cards. Berkman is still very solid and Cruz and Murphy don’t do much to counter that from the Rangers’ standpoint.
TEX- CJ Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison
STL- Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson
It’s tough not to give the edge here to the Cards. Carpenter has been knockout impressive this post season and the staff was able to weather the storm against a very powerful Brewers lineup. They may find their task easier with the Rangers, particularly if Garcia can remain domianant on the mound and Lohse can keep the Rangers in check enough for the bats to produce. The Cards have been giving great run support to a staff that had a 3.77 ERA during the regular season; that’s going to result in a lot of wins. Really, the Cards are going to have to depend on winning both Carpenter and Garcia’s starts if they want to take this series, but that isn’t an unreasonable proposition.
Overall, here, I like the underdog Cardinals to win both game one and the entire series. They have been red hot and while the Rangers do bring a lot offensively, it won’t be much tougher than facing the likes of Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder. It is strange because most didn’t expect the pitching of the Cardinals to carry them in the post-season, but their overall dominance and strong bullpen has made it a lot easier for the offense to put up the kind of run support that they need. If you like my reasoning and want to back up a bet at Bodog, they offer 10% bonuses on deposits and an easy and hassle-free cashout system.