Baseball is a funny sport. In the long run, statistics even out but it it is extremely unpredictable. A .250 hitter can hit .450 during a small 6 game sample. He could then hit .050 the next week and his average stays the same. This would be like Kobe Bryant averaging 50 points a game one week and then 10 points then next week. That just doesn’t happen. Baseball is just a less predictable sport. That is why a 60% winning percentage is incredible in baseball, but only solid in other sports.
Trying to predict an unpredictable sport is even more difficult when the St. Louis Cardinals are involved. I have almost perfectly predicted every series that did not involve the Cardinals (that’s only three but still…). I can’t figure them out. Despite the nonsensical year they have had, every person and domesticated animal is picking the Texas Rangers to win the World Series. Not even the Republican presidential candidates would have disagreed about this last night. I’ve decided to take a deep breath (something I’ve been longing to do since my left lung collapsed last Thursday but enough about me…) and focus on the big picture.
Nelson Cruz is not Babe Ruth. Everyone is raving about the series (6 homeruns in 6 games is pretty ridiculous) he had but they conveniently forget that he batted .067 with no RBIs while leading the team in strikeouts against the Rays. He is the prime example of the introductory paragraph. He also bats 7th in his lineup and batted .263 during the regular season. He can get as hot as anyone and arguably has as much power as anyone in baseball, but he can be pitched to. Baseball is a streaky sport. The problem with the Rangers is they have about 6 guys who can get hot and carry a team like Cruz did, but they did win less than 60% of their games. They aren’t unbeatable.
My next point, they still don’t have Cliff Lee. There are some major red flags in the starting rotation that have been evident throughout this post-season. That isn’t a recipe for success. Luckily for them, they played two of the three weakest hitting teams in the playoffs. The Cardinals can feast on left handed pitching and led the National League in runs scored. If anyone can make the Rangers miss Cliff Lee, it’s the Cardinals. Pujols, Berkman, Holiday, and the very capable David Freese might be salivating at the chance to tee off on the confident-less CJ Wilson, Matt Harrison, and Derek Holland southpaw trio.
Next point, Josh Hamilton is hurting. He is a little off and that groin pull may be more serious than we realize. He doesn’t have a homerun in the postseason and he is a big piece of that lineup.
Ron Washington may have the easiest job. I already don’t think American League managers do much but he is especially unnecessary. He keeps the same lineup every game except for his last hitter. Occasionally he pinch hits for that hitter but it almost seems like he just does it to give everyone playing time. He lets Mike Maddux handle all of the pitching decisions. He does a great job of directing the clubhouse but he just hasn’t had to manage all that much in the postseason (he did have to work with a fair amount of injuries during the year). When the Rangers play in St. Louis (where pitchers hit), he may get severely out-managed by Tony Larussa. In the National League, knowing who and when to pinch hit is big. Washington just hasn’t had to do that much.
I’m not very big on the Cardinal’s starting pitching. Chris Carpenter is not who he used to be and the rest of the staff has been very inconsistent. However, I can see them having some success with the Rangers though. They have a good mix of heat and finesse that could throw the homer happy Rangers a little off.
The Rangers are a very talented team. They have one of the best offenses I have seen in a long time, but they can be beat. The Cardinals have home field advantage (a bigger advantage in the World Series than in other rounds) and an “Angels in the Outfield” aura going on. If they can beat the Phillies without home field, they can beat the Rangers with it. 21 of 25 ESPN analysts picked the Rangers so I am going with Cardinals in 7. I like to be different. Plus, with all this Big 12 conference drama, this is one more chance for Missouri to stick it to Texas.
My wife, Charina, says Rangers in 6 because of their hitting and defense. She said defense because they weren’t dropping balls in the outfield like the Tigers were. Yes, I have convinced Charina to watch some baseball with me.