Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Game On! 2011 World Series Begins Tonight

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-Digger's Daily-

It's time. Baseball's Fall Classic begins tonight. 2011 World Series features two teams sporting explosive batting lineups. Back to back American League Champion Texas Rangers hitters are on fire led by ALCS MVP Nelson Cruz. National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals are led by soon to be free agent star slugger Albert Pujols.

All indicators suggest the 107th World Series will be quite different from past classics. We could be treated to a hitters special. Baseball purists love to boast great pitching beats great hitting. This often rings true. 2011 doesn't feature great starting pitching. It does bring us two teams with red hot lineups.

Rangers slugger Cruz set an all time playoff record with six monstrous home runs and 13 RBI. Not bad for a seventh place hitter. Texas lineup is very deep. It all begins with 2B Ian Kinsler who was a 30/30 man this season (32 HR, 30 SB). Rangers hitters erupted for 39 runs in ALCS vs Detroit. Toss in 17 2B, 7 HR, .286 team BA and one can easily overlook how dreadful their starting rotation performed. Starters left too many fat pitches down the middle as Tigers hitters feasted on mistakes. Cardinals hitters will need to continue scoring early and often because the Rangers bullpen has been lights out shutting down opponents all season long.

This is not your typical NL team. Starting rotation is not considered upper echelon. This is a hitting first team. Future Hall of Fame 1B Albert Pujols leads the Cardinals attack. One of the hottest of all playoff hitters is David Freese who seems to be smack in the middle of all Cardinal rallies. Freese (.545, 3 2B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R) and Pujols combined to score 12 and drive in 18 during Cards 6 game romp over Milwaukee. As a team, Cards hitters finished the NLCS with a .310 BA, scored 43, 16 doubles and 8 big flies. St. Louis starting rotation has been hit too. Same as Texas, it's been relievers saving the day.

Here's a link to's Game 1 statistical breakdown

Game 1 Lineups Rangers @ Cardinals
Texas (projected)
1 - 2B Kinsler
2 - SS Andrus
3 - CF Hamilton
4 - 1B Young
5 - 3B Beltre
6 - LF Cruz
7 - C Napoli
8 - LF Murphy
9 - SP Wilson

St Louis (projected)
1 - SS Furcal
2 - CF Jay
3 - 1B Pujols
4 - RF Berkman
5 - LF Holliday
6 - 3B Freese
7 - C Molina
8 - 2B Punto
9 - SP Carpenter

Keys to the Series:
(1) Both teams need big time performances from starting rotations. Neither rotation has shines thus far minus a solid game or two. If Carpenter and Garcia get hot Texas could be in trouble. Wilson leads the Rangers staff. He'll have to find top form to hold down the Cards. Edge: Cardinals
(2) Defense - giving away outs will kill your chances - especially in World Series action.
(3) Bullpen - recent pitching strength of both clubs must stay hot in WS. Giving away walks vs these lineups sets up big innings.
(4) Can Cards hitters keep up with Rangers sluggers when Series shifts to Arlington?

World Series Predictions
Albert Pujols plays his final game as a St. Louis Cardinal.
CJ Wilsom pitches his final game as a Texas Ranger.
Tony LaRussa manages his final game for St. Louis.
Pujols hits over .400
Freese produces 16 runs/rbi
Berkman bats under .200
Hamilton hits over .400
Both teams: 270+ BA, 4.00+ ERA
Home teams win all games.
Carpenter lone starting pitcher tossing 6 or more innings/game.
Freese or Motte MVP
Cardinals win in 7

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