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Previewing the 2013 World Series: Who Has the Edge?

Posted on October 23, 2013 by Ken Fenderson

The 2013 World Series is the 4th ever Fall Classic meeting between the Cardinals and Red Sox.

When the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals do battle in Game 1 of the 2013 World Series, it will be the first time since 1999 that the American League and National League champions were the teams with the best record in their respective leagues. The Sox and Redbirds both finished with 97 wins this season, sharing the best record in the majors. It’s not the first time that these franchises have met under the bright lights of October, either. St. Louis holds a 2-1 advantage over the Red Sox in their three previous World Series match-ups, although Boston swept the Cardinals in their last meeting back in 2004. The 2013 rendition of these squads appear to be dead even at first glance, so let’s do a little digging and find out who has the edge in this series.

Starting Rotation: Cardinals starters went 77-46 in 2013, with an ERA of 3.42, but the real story for this group has been the emergence of rookie sensation Michael Wacha. Wacha has a minuscule 0.43 ERA in his three starts this postseason. Opponents are hitting an abysmal .114 off of him, and he was named MVP of the NLCS for his efforts. Lost in the Wacha craze has been that the Cards still have a bonafide ace in Adam Wainwright. Wainwright has gone 2-1 in three postseason starts for St. Louis, holding opponents to a .207 batting average with an ERA of 1.57. The Red Sox will likely counter with Jon Lester and John Lackeyas their one-two punch. Lester has been the best starting pitcher in Boston’s rotation in the postseason, going 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA while holding opponents to a .229 average. Lackey was the winner in both of his starts to this point, going 2-0 with a perfectly square 3.00 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .244 off of the potential comeback player of the year. As is the case with most individual match-ups in this series, there isn’t much of a difference. But the one-two punch of Wainwright and Wacha push the Cards over the top. Edge Cardinals.

Who Will Win the World Series?

  • Boston Red Sox (63%, 5 Votes)
  • St. Louis Cardinals (37%, 3 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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Bullpen: The St. Louis bullpen was nearly as good as their rotation this season, with an ERA of 3.45. After making 37 saves for the Cardinals this year, Edward Mujica struggled late in the season and lost his job as the closer. Manager Mike Matheny originally planned on going the closer-by-committee route, but Trevor Rosenthal forced his hand and was named the man for the ninth inning. Rosenthal has been stellar in the postseason, converting three saves without giving up a run. Kevin Siegrist has been solid in relief for the Cards, posting a 3.38 ERA with just one earned run in five appearances. The big lefty has gotten his fastball up near 100 MPH in his recent appearances, which could be tough on hitters such as Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz late in the game. Boston will answer with a bullpen that, quite frankly, is the reason they’re still playing baseball. St. Louis will have to get to Boston’s starters early, because the Red Sox have a seventh-eighth-ninth combination that has been lethal in the postseason. Craig Breslow has yet to give up a run in seven postseason appearances, striking out six and holding opponents to a .130 average. Junichi Tazawa has also been lights out, with an ERA of 1.80 in eight appearances. Tazawa had his coming out party in the ALCS, where he struck out Miguel Cabrera and Prince fielder in back-to-back plate appearances with men on the corners in the eight inning. The next night, he forced Cabrera into a big double play with no outs and men on first and third in the seventh. But the real story of this Red Sox bullpen is the closer, Koji Uehara. Uehara was the best closer in baseball this season, and outside of one hiccup in Game 3 of the ALDS, that hasn’t changed. Uehara boasts a 1.09 ERA with five saves this October. The ALCS MVP earned the save in all four of the Red Sox wins over the tigers. That one-two-three combination has been too dominant to ignore. Edge Red Sox.

 

The Red Sox have enjoyed a lot of dramatic moments to celebrate in 2013. Will they again produce the clutch hits against the Cardinals?

The Red Sox have enjoyed a lot of dramatic moments to celebrate in 2013. Will they again produce the clutch hits against the Cardinals?

Lineup: This is truly a tale of two different philosophies as far as how these teams produce offensively. The Red Sox lead the American League with  178 home runs, while the Cardinals ranked 13th in the NL with just  125. Boston finished the season with a team batting average of .277, good for second in the AL. St. Louis was also second in their league with a .267 team batting average. The Redbirds has four players finish with an average of .300 or better: Yadier Molina (.319), Allen Craig (.315), Matt Carpenter (.318), and Matt Holliday (.300). Craig missed most of September and the entirety of the NLDS and NLCS with a foot injury, but he’s expected to be ready to go come Game 1. St. Louis will benefit from the DH rule while in Boston, making it easy for Mike Matheny to get Matt Adams (.284, 17 home runs, 51 RBI in 2013) and Craig into the lineup at the same time. Adams will take the field at first base while Craig hits as the DH. Both teams finished with the most runs in their respective leagues, but that stat is deceiving as the Sox scored nearly 100 more runs than the Cards did this year (853 to 765). Mike Napoli’s bat came to life in that series against Detroit, and Shane Victorino may have broken out of his slump with a game-winning grand slam in the 7th inning of Game 6. Couple that with the plate discipline of rookie Xander Bogaerts, Big Papi’s big bat and RBI machine Stephen Drew (just kidding), and the Cardinals could be in some trouble. Boston finished better in nearly every offensive category this year, and thus: Edge Red Sox.

Fielding: This one is pretty cut and dry. The Cardinals had a fielding percentage of .988 with 75 errors. Boston had a fielding percentage of .987 with 80 errors. Albeit a slight one, Edge Cardinals.

Base running: These are not your father’s Red Sox. Base running could very well be the difference in this series. The Cardinals don’t like to run, they stole just 45 bases this year and Jon Jay lead the team with 10 individually. The Sox, on the other hand, stole 123 bases, converting on 87% of steal attempts. Jacoby Ellsbury was a big reason for that, stealing 52 on his own and only getting caught four times. When Ellsbury gets on base, he creates a massive distraction for the pitcher. That’s not a good thing when two of the next three batters in the lineup are Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. At times in the ALDS, it seemed like Ellsbury and Shane Victorino created runs all by themselves. This team wreaks havoc on the base paths, and the only way to stop them from doing so is to send them back to the dugout with an out. Edge Red Sox.

So now we’ve delved in to every facet of the game and given you a clear breakdown of the 2013 World Series. The only thing left is a prediction, right? See you at the parade. Red Sox in 6.


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