Predictions Made 10/18/11 at 10:45 pm ET
Rangers in Six
If you like offensive baseball this could be the World Series for you as the Rangers and Cardinals have both relied on their bats to get to the Fall Classic. The Cardinals are the team with nine lives as they benefited from the Braves collapse to win the Wild Card on the final day of the season after trailing by ten and half games in August. They than used some squirrelly baseball to slip by the heavily favored Phillies, as they reached the World Series by out bashing the Brewers in the NLCS. Along the way good starting pitching performances have been few and far between for the Cardinals who have been winning largely thanks to Tony LaRussa's picking match up as the bullpen was key in their NLCS victory. The Rangers also got all four ALCS wins out of the bullpen, but with two extra inning games, and solid relief from Scott Feldman it is clear the Rangers have the pitching edge. For the Rangers the midseason bullpen additions of Mike Adams and Koji Uehara could end up being the difference as this series likely will be devoid of pitching duels. The Cardinals conversely need to find some innings from the starters to offset the deep Rangers line up, a key performer will be Chris Carpenter, whose Game 5 NLDS shutout got them past the Phillies.
With David Freese coming off a monster NLCS, the Cardinals line up is nothing to sneeze at as they tore asunder the Brew Crew pitching staff. However, when you consider that ALCS MVP Nelson Cruz who had six home runs against the Tigers is batting seventh you understand just how deep the Rangers lineup is. The Cardinals have some weak spots at the bottom of the order, but the Rangers are strong 1-9 and with players able to play multiple positions the loss of the Designated Hitter should not be too devastating for the Rangers. Last year the hitting star for the Rangers was Josh Hamilton he has been quiet this postseason, but you can sense he is due to break out and have a big series, while the Rangers must not let Albert Pujols beat them. Freese may have some potential but it is hard to imagine he can stay as hot as he was in the NLCS. The same is ture for Cruz, but the Rangers can have a similar series from Adrian Beltre, Michael Young or Mike Napoli.
The Rangers were here last year, but ran into a buzz saw known as the Giants pitching staff. For a star crossed franchise with no championships a second chance for the Rangers is an opportunity too good to pass up. Being here two years in a row helps and whatever butterflies they had last year are sure to be gone this time around. The Cardinals are not new to the series themselves as they still have many players from the 2006 Championship team that had a similar stunning run in October. The Cardinals also have home field with the silly All-Star Game being won by the National League. However, the Rangers are the better overall team and should win. Nolan Ryan says Rangers in six and that is good enough for me, with Michael Young a player who symbolizes the spirit of Texas and has played everywhere the Rangers have asked in a quietly solid career gets the ultimate rewards as World Series MVP.