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October 23, 2013

Playoff Prospectus

World Series Preview: Cardinals vs. Red Sox

by R.J. Anderson

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The Cardinals and Red Sox each won their Championship Series in six games, denying us a few days of rust-or-rest narrative. Luckily, the easy copy surrounding this pseudo-rematch of the 2004 World Series is plentiful. Ignore that the teams have changed general managers, managers, and players―with the exceptions of David Ortiz and Yadier Molina―there will be revenge talk should the Cardinals win some nine years after being swept. No matter your rooting interest, let's just hope for a more competitive send-off than we got back then.

Projected Lineups (AVG/OBP/SLG/TAv)


  1. 2B-L Matt Carpenter (.318/.392/.481/.310)
  2. RF-S Carlos Beltran (.296/.339/.491/.288)
  3. LF-R Matt Holliday (.300/.389/.490/.297)
  4. 1B-L Matt Adams (.284/.335/.503/.289)
  5. DH-R Allen Craig (.315/.373/.457/.296)
  6. C-R Yadier Molina (.319/.359/.477/.296)
  7. CF-L Jon Jay (.276/.351/.370/.261)
  8. 3B-R David Freese (.262/.340/.381/.250)
  9. SS-R Pete Kozma (.217/.275/.273/.201)

Indications are that Craig is set to return to the Cardinals lineup after missing the first two rounds. Should that come to fruition, the Cardinals will have another middle-of-the-order caliber bat to throw at Boston. Mike Matheny might not have to choose between Craig and Adams once this series returns to St. Louis, as a lot rides on how Craig feels. Otherwise, expect the Cardinals to trot out mostly the same lineup, with one possible exception being Shane Robinson over Jay against Jon Lester.

Red Sox

  1. CF-L Jacoby Ellsbury (.298/.355/.426/.270)
  2. RF-S Shane Victorino (.294/.351/.451/.285)
  3. 2B-R Dustin Pedroia (.301/.372/.415/.281)
  4. DH-L David Ortiz (.309/.395/.564/.324)
  5. 1B-R Mike Napoli (.259/.360/.482/.287)
  6. LF-S Daniel Nava (.303/.385/.445/.302)
  7. C-S Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.273/.338/.466/.281)
  8. SS-L Stephen Drew (.253/.333/.443/.272)
  9. 3B-R Xander Bogaerts (.250/.320/.364/.291) in 50 PA

John Farrell has some tougher decisions ahead of him. He's taken to playing Jonny Gomes and Bogaerts over Daniel Nava and Middlebrooks, yet he could go back on those choices this series. The Red Sox are hurt more by the lack of a DH during the middle of the series than the Cardinals, as they'll need to choose between Ortiz and Napoli. Of course, the easy solution would be to slide Napoli to catcher, but he didn't start a game there all season, whereas Ortiz did start a few times at first base.

These lineups ranked first and second in their leagues in True Average, with Boston owning the advantage in part due to the DH.

Projected Benches (AVG/OBP/SLG/TAv)


In addition to helping the starting lineup in Boston, Craig's return could bolster the bench during the St. Louis games. Either Craig or Adams will be available as a pinch-hitter, which is an upgrade over Matheny's choices through the first two rounds. Descalso expects to see time as Freese's glove.

Red Sox

There's a chance Gomes will start and Nava will sit. Ross should get a start or two as well.

Projected Starting Pitchers (IP/ERA/FIP)


In these seven-game series, depth often matters less than quality. The Cardinals have the edge in that department with arguably the best and third-best starters in the series in Wainwright and Wacha, with the latter being the breakout star of the postseason. Given how the schedule works out, the Cardinals could use those two in five of the seven games. That leaves at most one start apiece for Kelly and Lynn, but it also frees them up to serve as relievers should the need arise.

Red Sox

The math works out the same for the Red Sox, who could use Lester and Buchholz in five of the seven games should they desire to do so. Peavy represents the litmus test for Boston fans; if he starts, then the series is going well. If he doesn't, then Farrell is likely making a last-ditch effort to fend off elimination.

Projected Bullpens (IP/ERA/FIP)


Martinez, a rookie, entered the postseason as a wild card. Matheny has turned over the eighth inning to him thus far, and the results have been positive for St. Louis.

Red Sox

Meanwhile, Farrell has deployed Uehara for more than three outs three times this October, including twice in the ALCS. He's supposedly willing to throw him out there for two innings if necessary.

If you like defense, then this isn't the series for you. Both squads ranked in the bottom 10 in park-adjusted defensive efficiency during the regular season. Boston does own a slight edge, for those keeping score.

Two relatively inexperienced managers lock horns here. Mike Matheny, now in his second season, is mostly hands-off; he lets his talented roster dictate the action. John Farrell, nearing the conclusion of his first year running Boston, is more willing to assert his control with, among other things, aggressive bullpen management. It doesn't seem as though either is a risk to lose the game for his team.

This should be a fun series between two highly talented rosters. Here's guessing the Red Sox pull it out in six games.

PECOTA sees the Cardinals as favorites by a healthy margin.

Advance Scouting Reports
Matt Carpenter (Tim Steggall)
David Ortiz (Tim Steggall)

R.J. Anderson is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see R.J.'s other articles. You can contact R.J. by clicking here

23 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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I disagree with your projection of nava being in the starting linue. Farrell has been a gomes guy for this post season. I think Nava may get a shot at starting in St Louis because the sox will be losing a bat there because of the DH - thus farrell may be forced to play the much much better hitter(statistic wise anyways). I saw someone post some stats that gomes does better than Nava against hard throwing righities. If that stat is true - it gives the first inkling of why farrell has been going with gomes.

Oct 21, 2013 05:35 AM
rating: 1

I honestly envy baseball fans who are going to enjoy the World Series. As a Reds fan who watches St. Louis succeed seemingly every year, its admittedly very tough to watch at all. Enjoy.

Oct 21, 2013 06:49 AM
rating: 12

Who gave that a negative rating? I can understand how it would be frustrating to watch the Cards' good fortune, and maphal told the rest of us to enjoy. Nothing wrong with that.

Oct 21, 2013 09:57 AM
rating: 10

I'm honestly a little surprised by PECOTA's conclusion of the Cardinals being heavy favorites given that the Red Sox were consistently well ahead of the Cardinals in the Hit List rankings -- it would be helpful to get an explanation of the 'why' on something that counterintutive

Oct 21, 2013 07:06 AM
rating: 10

That surprised me too. I would imagine PECOTA likes Wainwright more than any other starter, but beyond that I can't even make a good guess.

Oct 21, 2013 09:52 AM
rating: 0

I was just thinking the same thing. But if there is any NL team that is well positioned to play with a DH it is probably the Cardinals who can play Matt Adams and (a healthish) Allen Craig.

Oct 21, 2013 09:54 AM
rating: 2

The Hit List rankings automatically gave the AL teams a .040 advantage due to league strength by adding roughly .020 to all AL teams and subtracting that amount from NL teams.

Oct 21, 2013 11:49 AM
rating: 2

Yeah, I'd love to see an additional article entirely on this:

"PECOTA sees the Cardinals as favorites by a healthy margin."

Oct 21, 2013 18:32 PM
rating: 5

I see the Series as nearly level with the Cards having a small advantage

Oct 21, 2013 09:39 AM
rating: 0

Also, I noticed Allen Craig doesn't have his TAv listed. I was quickly checking the right most number in the quadruple slash line and thought "wow, that is a really high TAv" before realizing that it was actually his SLG.

Oct 21, 2013 10:04 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

Fixed. (It was .296.)

Oct 21, 2013 10:07 AM

great, thanks!

Oct 21, 2013 10:38 AM
rating: 0

As a Cub fan I am extremely envious of how well the Cardinals organization is run. From drafting, to development, to player contract decisions, they don't have a lot of swing and miss.

Also, as a Cub fan, I am reminded of how the baseball world really missed an epic World Series in 2003 of the Cubs - Red Sox.

Its unfortunate that Bartman is to blame, when it shouldn't be his fault, but it is.

Oct 21, 2013 11:53 AM
rating: 0

and, you know, the eight runs that the Cubs pitchers gave up entirely on their own.

Oct 21, 2013 18:33 PM
rating: 0

To RJ Anderson, why aren't you following PECOTA in your prediction? What do you see that you believe PECOTA doesn't?

Oct 21, 2013 11:55 AM
rating: 3

I'm guessing he is using the new version of PECOTA that incorporates TWTW as compiled by Hawk Harrelson.

Oct 21, 2013 13:21 PM
rating: 7

Pecota heavily favors the Cards but Vegas is favoring the Red Sox. Pecota has been wrong quite a bit during the playoffs but I think Pecota has the correct favorite (although I wouldn't make them quite so big a favorite).

Oct 21, 2013 21:24 PM
rating: 0
Bryan Cole

Don't forget, though, that the Vegas lines tend to favor "public" teams. If Vegas gets (or anticipates) more Red Sox fans casually betting on their team, that will contribute to the series price.

Oct 22, 2013 08:52 AM
rating: 1

Oh I agree completely. I expected the Red Sox to be favored because of the public and because of the home field advantage. I still give a slight edge to the Cardinals. Of course, the fact that I'm holding a 16/1 ticket on the Cardinals to win the World Series may be slightly clouding my judgment!

Oct 22, 2013 17:56 PM
rating: 1
Eric M. Van

Why does PECOTA like the Cardinals? Its simply appears to be awfully stubborn about accepting the reality of the season just played. David Ortiz had a mean projected TAv of .293 and put up a .324, his 90th percentile on the nose; PECOTA'S current / final projection is .297. That's something like 83% original guess, 17% reality.

The situation is even worse with pitching, where the projections seem to rely on FRA, which pretty clearly doesn't work. After two seasons with BABIPs of .197 and .203, and hence WHIPs of 0.78 and 0.64, PECOTA projected a .289 BABIP and 1.11 WHIP. After Uehara put up a .189 BABIP and 0.56 WHIP, PECOTA projects his WHIP at 1.01 (and his ERA at 2.51). It's hard to overstate how colossally wrong these rest-of-season projections were, all along.

Essentially, PECOTA is acting like the Republicans who still, on the eve of the election, thought Mitt Romney was going to win. Irony much?

Oct 22, 2013 05:49 AM
rating: 0
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

I'm not a Republican, but given that Obama got just a fraction over 50% of the total votes their belief wasn't that unreasonable.

Oct 22, 2013 07:40 AM
rating: -6

It would've been less unreasonable if we actually chose presidents by % of the national vote.

Oct 22, 2013 08:02 AM
rating: 8

A popular vote of 51% to 47%, with a margin of 5 million votes, really isn't very close.

Then when you tried to construct how Romney could get to 270 electoral votes, it was clear to an informed observer that the chance of a Republican victory was less than one in five, which beloved BP co-founder and Pecota developer Nate Silver had been saying for quite some time.

Oct 23, 2013 01:37 AM
rating: 6
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