World Series Preview: Texas Rangers (96-66) vs St. Louis Cardinals (90-72)

Before we get started, let’s just get this out of the way

GUYS, did you know that the World Series isn’t really all that worldy? A bunch of literal people on the Internet are ON IT. (@bkabak)

Just another one of those annoying things that pops up at the same point every year, just like the handwringing of national writers about ratings when the Yankees/Red Sox and presumably the Cubs aren’t in the World Series, weeks of pedantic arguments about the Hall of Fame come election time, and reports of Player X being in the best shape of his life going into Spring Training.

Team Overviews

These are the team stats and their overall ranking within their own leagues, which obviously have different run scoring/preventing environments thanks to that whole DH thing.

Rangers Cardinals
wOBA .348 (2nd) .332 (1st)
UBR 23.0 (1st) 4.0 (5th)
UZR 25.9 (4th) -29.8 (15th)
DRS 45 (3rd) -13 (11th)
SP FIP 3.80 (3rd) 3.69 (5th)
RP FIP 4.38 (15th) 3.87 (13th)

The Rangers lead all of baseball in BSR by a wide margin. The next best team was the Reds at 12.8. The Rangers infielders (Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, and Michael Young) were the biggest contributers, while Nelson Cruz was the only non-catcher with a significant negative. There’s no real holes in their lineup either – every single one of their batters with > 425 PA have produced postive wRAA. When the worst hitter in your lineup is merely average, that’s a great offense. The red flag in Texas’s numbers is obviously its bullpen, but that’s something that can be mollified in the playoffs. Much like with starters you can lean on your top relievers more often rather than rely on Jeff Samardzija types, and the Rangers have a quality trio in Mike Adams, Darren Oliver (Jesse Orosco’s heir), and closer Neftali Feliz, as well as starter Alexi Ogando.

Oddly enough the Cardinals top offensive performer was not Albert Pujols this year. Lance Berkman (40.1 wRAA) topped him this year. Berkman, Pujols, and Holliday were obviously the heart of the Cardinals lineup, and Ryan Theriot aside their negative contributers were neutralized by the return of David Freese from injury and the acquisition of Rafael Furcal (who was merely average instead of awful).The Cardinals were pretty terrible on the field, most notably and not surprsingly due to the contributions of Lance Berkman (who more than made up for it), Ryan Theriot, and Skip Schumaker (who did not). Surprisingly Colby Rasmus graded out quite poorly by UZR in his time with the Cards, but that’s the way it goes with defensive stats. I feel pretty safe in saying that those earlier players are not good defensively. Despite the disparity in the relative rankings above the Cardinals have a much better bullpen than the Rangers. A lot of the poor performance came from Ryan Franklin (released) and swingmen Miguel Batista and Kyle McClellan, neither of whom are on the WS roster. Excluding those guys every reliever that saw more than a cup of coffee has a FIP of 3.44 or better on the year.

Pitching Matchups

Wednesday: C.J. Wilson. LHP (2.94, 3.24, 3.41) vs Chris Carpenter, RHP (3.45, 3.06, 3.31)

Lewis has been hit pretty hard this postseason. He gave up eight runs to the Rays in the ALDS and six more runs in Detroit. In his best start, he gave up two runs but only lasted 4 2/3 innings, walking five batters in that span and serving up six line drives to Tigers hitters. He’s the best in the Rangers rotation but it’s a cause for concern.

Speaking of causes for concern, I was surprised that the fact that Carpenter was given the nod for the game one start was even news. Wasn’t it obvious that he would get the start? Apparently his elbow was bothering him after his outing against the Brewers, which followed up his epic complete game win against Roy Halladay. 

Thursday:  Colby Lewis, RHP (4.40, 4.54, 4.10) vs Jaime Garcia, LHP (3.56, 3.23, 3.31)

Garcia did well in his start against the Phillies but was knocked around in his next start against the Brewers (6 runs in 4 innings). Garcia was inexplicably pulled after 4 2/3 innings in game 7 vs the Brewers despite having a good outing. Tony LaRussa’s GENIUS shone through because he lifted his starter to bring in a reliver to face Ryan Braun, who had struck Braun out 7 times in the enormously huge sample size of 10 PAs. GENIUS. *shakes head*

Lewis was a success story last year after Texas signed him away from his face-saving exile to Japan. It’s impressive that he’s managed to go through a Sophomore Slump at the age of 32. His strikeout rate has gone down but his big problem this year has been HRs. Not surprisingly he’s pitched on the road in his two postseason starts, and he’ll be pitching on the road here too (in cold weather, no less).

Saturday: Kyle Lohse, RHP (3.39, 3.67, 4.04) vs Derek Holland, LHP (3.94, 3.94, 3.76)

Lohse had horrendous BABIP luck last year (.364) but saw it whip around the other way this year, Gambler’s Fallacy Style. He’s improved his control in a big way, and while he’s a groundballer he’s not nearly as extreme of one as I seem to remember.

The Rangers haven’t announced who will get this start but I’m guessing it’s Holland. Holland had a solid year in his first full season as a starter. Holland has not gone deep in any of his starts this postseason, with his best start coming against the Rays (5 IP, 3 R). He struck out five while walking none against the Tigers…but gave up three HRs in 4 innings and change.

Sunday: Edwin Jackson, RHP (3.79, 3.55, 3.73) vs Matt Harrison, LHP (3.39, 3.52, 3.85)

Jackson was the starter in that ridiculous game 7 against the Brewers that was looking to break all postseason scoring records early on. He lasted two innings and gave up three homers. Looking through all these pitchers’ postseason game logs the theme has been that they generally haven’t been able to go deep into games. They’re lucky to go even 5 innings! Tonight’s duel between Wilson and Carpenter has been the exception. So much for Pitching Wins In The Playoffs.

Harrison has had two starts in the playoffs, and while he only went five innings in each of them he looked good. He struck out nine Rays in the ALDS. He’s the third LHP that the Rangers are throwing, so expect any RHBs in the Cardinals lineup to have a big World Series.

Monday: Chris Carpenter, RHP (3.45, 3.06, 3.31) vs C.J. Wilson. LHP (2.94, 3.24, 3.41)

Wednesday: Colby Lewis, RHP (4.40, 4.54, 4.10) vs Jaime Garcia, LHP (3.56, 3.23, 3.31)

Thursday: Kyle Lohse, RHP (3.39, 3.67, 4.04) vs Derek Holland, LHP (3.94, 3.94, 3.76)

Prediction

The Rangers are a great team. I’ll take the Rangers in six. I just hope that in the process of losing, Edwin Jackson blows a big lead and the Cardinals season ends with Jon Jay weakly grounding out to 2b, just to spite TLR for the ridiculous Rasmus trade.


berselius

About berselius

How appropriate. You fight like a cow.

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