I imagine that for many Indians fans, when the playoffs started, Red Sox/Cardinals was on the bottom of the list, in terms of potential World Series matchups. Both teams have had a lot of success lately, with the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004 and 2007, and reaching the playoffs in 7 of the last 11 season, while the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006 and 2011, and have reached the playoffs in 10 of the last 14 season. These two teams even playoff one another in the 2004 World Series, which turned out to be one of the least interesting World Series of the last decade.
Each fan base also seems to have a pretty high opinion of itself, with St. Louis wallowing in its status as "America's best fan base," and Red Sox Nation still thinking of itself as a plucky underdog, even though they've trotted out a top three payroll for most of the current century. Can you really find it in your heart to be happy for either of these teams winning, especially knowing they'll get to crow about being baseball's premier franchise of the 2000s?
Well, you may have hoped and prayed for a miracle to prevent this World Series, but that meteor you asked for isn'tcoming.
1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury (L) - .298/.355/.426, 113 wRC+
2. RF Shane Victorino (R) - .294/.351/.451, 119 wRC+
3. 2B Dustin Pedroia (R) - .301/.372/.415, 115 wRC+
4. DH David Ortiz (L) - .309/.395/.564, 152 wRC+
5. 1B Mike Napoli (R) - .259/.360/.482, 129 wRC+
6. LF Daniel Nava (S) - .303/.385/.445, 128 wRC+
7. 3B Xander Bogaerts (R) - .250/.320/.364, 86 wRC+
8. SS Stephen Drew (L) - .253/.333/.443, 109 wRC+
9. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (S) - .273/.338/.466, 117 wRC+
The Red Sox led all MLB teams in OBP, SLG, and wRC+, they hit home runs, they draw walks, they steal bases at a high rate, and they scored 57 more runs than anyone else. Simply put, Boston has the best offense in baseball. I have to think Ortiz will be limited to pinch-hitting duty in Games 3, 4, and 5, but maybe John Farrell will sneak him in to first base for a game or two, especially given that he hits righties better than Napoli.
1. 2B Matt Carpenter (L) - .318/.392/.481, 147 wRC+
2. RF Carlos Beltran (S) - .296/.339/.491, 132 wRC+
3. LF Matt Holliday (R) - .300/.389/.490, 148 wRC+
4. DH Allen Craig (R) - .317/.375/.457, 135 wRC+
5. C Yadier Molina (R) - .319/.359/.477, 134 wRC+
6. 3B David Freese (R) - .262/.340/.381, 106 wRC+
7. 1B Matt Adams (L) - .284/.335/.503, 136 wRC+
8. CF Jon Jay (L) - .276/.351/.370, 104 wRC+
9. SS Pete Kozma (R) - .217/.275/.273, 50 wRC+
In terms of National League lineups, that's as good as it gets, and by a wide margin. The Cardinals led the NL in runs scored, on-base percentage, and wRC+. Pete Kozma is the only bad hitter in the lineup.
Game 1: Jon Lester (L) - 3.75 ERA, 3.59 FIP, 109 ERA+
Game 2: John Lackey (R) - 3.52 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 116 ERA+
Game 3: Clay Buchholz* (R) - 1.74 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 234 ERA+
Game 4: Jake Peavy** (R) - 4.04 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 102 ERA+
*Buchholz's health is in question, and there's some chance he won't be available, in which case Felix Doubront would take his place, presumably with Peavy moving up to Game 3 and Doubront pitching Game 4.
**these are his stats with Boston only, and do not include his time with the White Sox.
Game 1: Adam Wainwright (R) - 2.94 ERA, 2.55 FIP, 123 ERA+
Game 2: Michael Wacha (R) - 2.78 ER, 2.92 FIP, 131 ERA+
Game 3: Joe Kelly (R) - 2.69 ERA, 4.01 FIP, 135 ERA+
Game 4: Lance Lynn (R) - 3.97 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 91 ERA+
I'd rather have St. Louis' starters for Games 1 and 2 (and 5 and 6, if the rotations hold and the series goes that far), but prefer Boston's for Game 3 and 4 (and 7, if it goes that far and Buchholz is healthy).
Closer: RHP Koji Uehara - 1.09 ERA, 1.61 FIP
Top RH middle reliever: Junichi Tazawa - 3.16 ERA, 3.22 FIP
Top LH middle reliever: Craig Breslow - 1.81 ERA, 3.60 FIP
Closer: RHP Trevor Rosenthal - 2.63 ERA, 1.91 FIP
Top RH middle reliever: Seth Maness - 2.32 ERA, 3.43 FIP
Top LH middle reliever: Kevin Siegrist - 0.45 ERA, 2.29 FIP
St. Louis' bullpen also includes pitchers like Carlos Martinez and (maybe) Shelby Miller, who started during the season. They're a far better bunch than Detroit trotted out against Boston. If the game goes deep and many relief innings are needed, I believe the Cardinals have the better depth, but the Red Sox best relievers are a but better, if we're just talking about getting through the 8th and the 9th.
The Red Sox have plus-defenders in Pedroia, Drew, Ellsbury, and Victorino, while the rest of their lineup is generally a ittle on the weak side defensively, giving them something close to a league-average defense when you put it all together.
The Cardinals get excellent defense from catcher Yadier Molina (maybe the best defensive player in all of baseball) and shortstop Pete Kozma (he ain't in there for his bat), but below average to outright bad defense around the rest of the field, particularly in the outfield.
Neither team has a significant advantage here.
I was 4 for 4 in the Division Series round, and 1 for 2 in the League Championships (I thought the Dodgers would prevail). Before the playoffs started, I picked Boston, so I'll stick with that.
Red Sox in 6