TALE OF THE TAPE

Tale Of The Tape: St. Louis Cardinals Vs. Boston Red Sox

St. Louis Cardinals
Boston Red Sox
(credit: Elsa/Getty Images)
(credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
(credit: Elsa/Getty Images)
(credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Offense
The Cardinals outscored every National League team this year, plating almost a half-run more per game than the next best offense. Overall, St. Louis was the third-highest scoring team in the majors (4.83 runs per game). The Cards have cooled off a bit in the postseason, but that was against the second and third-best pitching staffs in the majors this year (Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, respectively). The Cardinals were the best clutch-hitting team in the history of baseball this year, and it's hard to imagine that suddenly coming to a halt.
Winner The Red Sox led the majors in scoring in 2013 at 5.27 runs per game, and in the postseason, they're still posting 4.5 runs per contest (against Top Five American League staffs from Detroit and Tampa Bay). Even when they are not hitting, per se, the Red Sox are walking and driving up pitch counts on the opposition's best arms. They simply wear out most staffs. And then Fenway (where there could be 4 games) always seems to have crazy postseason at-bats with everything on the line. From Carlton Fisk to David Ortiz, the Boston teams know how to make Fenway magic work for them.
Pitching
Winner The Cardinals finished fifth in the majors in ERA with a 3.42 mark, and they've been even better in the postseason (2.34). The Cards led majors in wins by starters (77), and the revamped bullpen held the Pirates and the Dodgers to a combined .177 average over 30 innings. They have a stable of great starting options, and the St. Louis manager has many fireballers in the bullpen to choose from with the game on the line. At the top of the rotation is a two-time World Series champion (Adam Wainwright), and that staff has a perennial MVP calling the shots from behind the plate (Yadier Molina).
The Red Sox staff has the potential to be dominant, but they haven't been consistent this year, despite the postseason efforts so far (3.05 ERA). Boston starters had a 3.84 ERA in the regular season, and that number has risen in the postseason (4.29). It's been the Red Sox bullpen with its 0.84 ERA this October that has gotten Boston to the Series again. This same unit posted a 3.70 mark in the regular season to finish in the bottom third of the majors. Despite the momentum, the bullpen has issued 11 walks, which can come back to haunt you against strong-hitting teams.
Defense
Winner The Cardinals were the second-best defensive team in the National League this year, making only 75 errors. If they have a weakness, it's the infield. The Cards have made three errors in October, allowing two unearned runs to score. All three errors have been made by infielders — one each at second, third and shortstop. But St. Louis does have the best defensive catcher in baseball (Molina), and that keeps a lot in order around the diamond. The St. Louis defense has handled the most chances per game of any playoff team, so the pitching staff trusts the defenders behind it to make the plays.
Winner Defense is not something baseball fans normally associate with the Red Sox, but the team did field a top-five American League defensive unit in 2013. Boston made only 80 errors in the regular season, and they've been a little better in the playoffs, committing just three miscues in 10 games. The errors were somewhat random, too, by a pitcher, the shortstop and the right fielder. Boston could be tempted to start David Ortiz in St. Louis to get his bat into the DH-free lineup. That could be a little scary, though regular first baseman Mike Napoli isn't golden with the glove either.
Manager
Winner Manager Mike Matheny has the respect of his team, and as a former Cardinals catcher who "tutored" the current MVP-caliber Molina, he knows the game pretty well. He was St. Louis' starting catcher in the 2004 World Series, and Matheny was always known for his defense and ability to manage the game effectively. Like many former catchers, he has transitioned well into a managerial role, although he has to take some blame for the 2012 playoff meltdown in the NLCS against San Francisco. The Cards have played very focused baseball in 2013, demonstrating an ability to recover from that collapse, under Matheny's guidance and leadership.
Manager John Farrell previously led the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 and 2012, and Boston really targeted him as their man to take over in 2013. It was an interesting choice, as Farrell — a former MLB pitcher — could be best remembered in Toronto for finishing .500 in his first year there before dipping back below that benchmark in 2012. But clearly, the Red Sox knew what they were doing. The team didn't have a losing month in 2013 en route to its first AL East title in six years, just one year after finishing last in its division. Farrell has no MLB postseason managerial experience prior to this October, and that may come into play when the Series is on the line.

The Winner Is

(credit: Elsa/Getty Images)
Winner St. Louis Cardinals
3 out of 4

St. Louis has a slight edge over Boston, but overall, the two teams are evenly matched. The Series should go seven games, and the Cardinals are unlikely to win it in five games like they did in 2006. The Red Sox are too good for that. Neither team has a "rust" edge, like St. Louis had in 2006 or Boston had in 2007, when their opponents had been sitting around for a week getting stale after sweeping their respective LCS match-ups. But picking the visiting team to win a Game Seven in Fenway Park just doesn't feel right at all. So the call here is that the superior starting pitching of the Cardinals — combined with the clutch hitting demonstrated all season by the lineup top to bottom — will prevail in six games (WLWLWW). And because he was robbed of the 2012 regular-season NL MVP Award, St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina will win the 2013 World Series MVP Award.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25:  Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants breaks a tackle by Josh Norman #24 of the Washington Redskins in the second half at MetLife Stadium on September 25, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 25:   Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs the ball against Everson Griffen #97 and Tom Johnson #92 of the Minnesota Vikings in the 1st half during their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Week 4 Tale Of The Tape: New York Giants At Minnesota Vikings

    The Vikings defense has annihilated every opponent so far. Can they do it to the explosive Giants offense this week?

  2. KANSAS CITY, MO - SEPTEMBER 25: Center Mitch Morse #61 of the Kansas City Chiefs prepares to snap the ball to Alex Smith #11 at Arrowhead Stadium during the second quarter of the game against the New York Jets on September 25, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 25: Quarterback  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers passes against  Bennie Logan #96 of the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field on September 25, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
    Week 4 Tale Of The Tape: Kansas City Chiefs At Pittsburgh Steelers

    The Chiefs and Steelers battle it out in a match-up of AFC playoff contenders.

  3. ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 25:  Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys throws against the Chicago Bears in the fourth quarter at AT&T Stadium on September 25, 2016 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 25:  Running back Carlos Hyde #28 of the San Francisco 49ers rushes for a touchdown in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 25, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the 49ers 37-18.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Week 4 Tale Of The Tape: Dallas Cowboys At San Francisco 49ers

    The Cowboys have been rolling with rookie QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott. They look to continue that momentum this week.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS Seattle

DOWNLOAD IT NOW!
Watch Danny Bonaduce On DANNY TV
6 Business Card Mistakes New Owners Make

Listen Live