Game 1 of the World Series is tonight and features the two teams with the best records in baseball this year. The Boston Red Sox have home field advantage by virtue of the American League winning the All Star Game. The St. Louis Cardinals are looking for revenge for the 2004 World Series when the Red Sox swept the Cardinals in four straight games to win their first World Series in millions of years.
Both teams led their respective divisions for most of the year. There were a few days toward the end of the year and at the very beginning of the year that the Cardinals were not in first place in the National League Central but they were leading the division for probably three fourths of the year. The Red Sox led the American League East pretty much from the opening weeks to the end and were not out of the lead for over half the year. Both teams are very similar in terms of offense with many solid hitters but no standout guy in my opinion. The offense is pretty well balanced for both teams with both teams offenses occasionally going through stretches where they are barely hitting the ball and other times they are beating the cover off the ball. The Red Sox have a veteran pitching staff made up partially of pitchers whose careers appeared to be over at one point before coming back with career type years this year. The Cardinals pitching staff is of course anchored by their ace Adam Wainright and the rest by young guys who are really just getting started. The Cardinals have a definite edge in pitching in my opinion because of that. Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha, and Lance Lynn are young and healthy and in the case of Wacha and Kelly they seem to get better with each outing. Lynn is somewhat of a mystery that may never be solved.
The Red Sox bring four veteran starting pitchers who are quite honestly either approaching the downside of their career or have already started down it. That doesn’t mean they aren’t formidable because they are but I do think the Cardinals younger and fresher arms give them the edge in terms of starting pitching.
The bullpens are pretty similar with the Red Sox perhaps having an edge in overall talent but the Cardinals have gotten stellar work from their bullpen throughout the postseason.
The Cardinals will have Allen Craig back in their lineup tonight as the DH which will give the Cardinals an added punch that hasn’t been there for a while. Craig is having to get his timing back on the fly so I don’t know what exactly to expect out of him but the Cardinals are certainly better with his bat in the lineup than they are without it.
One thing that really stands out for me about the Cardinals is the fact that 21 of the 25 men on the active roster are homegrown players. They came up through the Cardinals minor league system and although I don’t really know that will give the Cardinals any sort of advantage I do like the fact that the Cardinals didn’t do what so many other teams have done by trying to buy a World Series caliber team, the Cardinals built a team from within. The Red Sox have their share of homegrown talent as well but for the most part their best players came from other teams. I think that one of the reason that some people in baseball don’t like the Cardinals is because of the fact that the Cardinals have created a successful blueprint for building a successful team from within while others have tried to buy their way to the top. Once they determined that wasn’t going to work they are now trying to copy what the Cardinals have done but that takes time and many teams don’t have that type of patience.
I like this matchup much more so than I did in 2004 when quite frankly the Red Sox had the better team. Yes they bought and paid for that team but they still had the better team. This time I think the matchup is much more even and I like the Cardinals chances. I look forward to a long competitive series.
My prediction: Cardinals in 6.
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Have a wonderful Wednesday!