It pains me not to be writing about the Milwaukee Brewers in this space, but I think I’ll recover faster from a 12-6 loss than I would had the Brewers lost on a Cardinals walk-off.
If I were to write a World Series preview from a Cardinals perspective, it would be full of bias and spite, so I’ll instead focus my efforts on my new (temporary) favorite team, the Texas Rangers, as I preview the 2011 World Series, which starts tomorrow night (TV schedule and pitching probables here).
Image source: ESPN.com
I found myself shopping for a Nelson Cruz t-shirt on Sunday night after the Cardinals eliminated Milwaukee, because he is my one tie to the Brewers’ organization. He had a small cup of coffee with the Brewers in 2005 after spending two seasons at AA and AAA, before being traded in the deal that brought Carlos Lee and Francisco Cordero to Milwaukee. I’d like to say I saw this potential for Cruz back then. I didn’t, but I have pictured Cruz back in a Brewers jersey on more than one occasion.
I’ve seen the Cardinals play at least 20 times this season, and I think they are quite good. I thought they would win the division, and they have postseason experience. But from what I’ve seen from the Rangers, they are very similar to the Cardinals and better in a few key areas.
The starting pitching staffs are relatively similar, with each team having one ace and then a number of supporting pitchers. CJ Wilson had better regular season statistics (2.94 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP) than Chris Carpenter (3.45 ERA and 1.26 WHIP), but in the playoffs it’s hard to pick Wilson (8.04 ERA in three starts) or against Carpenter. He wasn’t great against Milwaukee, but his start in Game 5 against the Phillies was one of the best pitching performances in recent postseason history.
Image source: Huffington Post
The rest of the rotations for both teams are by no means dominant, and each game should come down to which offense is better in those matchups. Outside of Pujols at first base, I think I’d take the Rangers player at just about every other position.
Starting in the outfield, I would pick Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and whatever third outfielder you want to put out there against just about any other outfield in baseball. Having Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday and Jon Jay certainly isn’t a bad thing, but it’s hard to argue against what Cruz did in the ALCS.
Around the horn in the infield, the closest matchup is at third base. Pujols holds the edge at first over Michael Young, the Rangers are better up the middle with Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus, but Adrian Beltre versus David Freese is close. Beltre has been the better player for a longer period of time, but Freese crushed the ball on his way to NLCS MVP honors. In this case, I’ll take the veteran Beltre, who shouldn’t be fazed by the bright World Series lights.
I’m not totally sure what is going to come of the catcher/designated hitter positions during the Series, but for argument’s sake, I’ll simply say that I’d rather have Mike Napoli in the lineup than Yadier Molina. Molina can come through with a big hit and he’s better defensively, but I like Napoli’s big bat in Texas’s lineup.
Texas also probably holds the edge as far as bullpen performance in the playoffs, and it will come down largely to matchup play. Neither Lance Lynn of the Cardinals nor Scott Feldman of the Rangers have given up a run in at least eight innings of work for their respective teams, and both teams’ closers are 4-of-4 in save opportunities. The edge here goes to the Rangers because of Alexi Ogando’s ability to pitch in long relief if necessary.
I think the Rangers hold too many edges in the World Series, and they will win with competent enough starting pitching backed by a whole lot of offense and a solid pen. I think Josh Hamilton has a big series and fully completes his comeback, winning World Series MVP along the way.
World Series Prediction: Rangers in five.
Now it’s your turn.
Who do you think will win the World Series?
- Texas Rangers (46%, 32 Votes)
- St. Louis Cardinals (54%, 37 Votes)
Total Voters: 69Loading ...