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    Your World Series Preview

    By

    Baseball nerd!

    Tomorrow, the baseball season counts down to its end as the Texas Rangers go to St. Louis to play the Cardinals in the World Series. An amazing final day of the regular season and some great games and upsets in the playoffs has made this a fantastic year for baseball. Here’s what you need to know for the remaining four to seven games.

    Texas Rangers

    Path to the World Series: Won AL West Division with a 96-66 record, 10 games up on the Anaheim Angels; Defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3 games to 1 in ALDS; Defeated Detroit Tigers 4 games to 2 in ALCS.

    Key Players: On the pitching side, it’s Alexi Ogando. A converted reliever, he started 29 games during the regular season with a strikeout to walk ratio that was almost 3 and an adjusted ERA 27 percent better than league average. In the ALCS he was back in the bullpen, but only C.J. Wilson pitched more innings and Ogando’s K/BB ratio improved to 5 to 1. As a right-handed power pitcher, he could be key in keeping right-handed power hitters Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday, David Freese and Allen Craig quiet in the later innings.

    What makes the Rangers interesting: All that hitting. During the regular season, the Rangers had five hitters with 25 or more home runs. (The Cardinals have two.) The Rangers wOBA was .348 for the season, only behind the Boston Red Sox. (The Cardinals were first in the NL, but fifth overall, also behind the Yankees and Tigers.) However, even with all of the offense, they didn’t sacrifice other aspects of the game, ranking 6th in the majors in fielding runs and first in base-running runs.

    What makes the manager cool: Fox learned early to keep a camera on Ron Washington during the game as Washington likes to run in place like a crazy hamster as his players circle the bases. He’s also played by Brent Jennings in the movie “Moneyball.”

    Information to make you sound like Tim McCarver for your home color commentary:

    “The Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was built in 1994 and holds just over 49 thousand people. In comparison, Detroit’s Comerica Park only holds about 40 thousand people. That’s nine thousand less.”

    “The Texas Rangers take their team name from law enforcement group of the same name. They were made famous by the movie ‘Texas Rangers’ starring James Van Der Beek and Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher is married to Demi Moore. Boy, I’d like to see more of Moore. And that’s my key to the game.”

    “The Rangers have five left-handed pitchers on their roster, or southpaws as they are commonly known. The term ‘southpaw’ refers to the fact that badgers will burrow into the ground to find food with their left paw. In the same way, most left-handed pitchers back when I played used to eat mice and voles. Boy, the game sure has changed.”

    St. Louis Cardinals

    Path to the World Series: Earned Wild Card berth on last day of the season with Chris Carpenter pitching a complete game 8-0 victory over the Astros as the Braves lost to the Phillies 4-3 in 12 innings; Defeated the Phillies 3 games to 2 in the NLDS with Chris Carpenter pitching a complete game in the deciding game the Cardinals won 1-0; Defeated the Brewers 4 games to 2 in the NLCS and Chris Carpenter was the only Cardinals starting pitcher to finish five innings in the series.

    Key Players: Chris Carpenter pitches Game 1 on a full week of rest. If the Cardinals can get two dominant starts from him, they only have to steal two games with long bullpen outings.

    What makes the Cardinals interesting: Albert Pujols has played for 11 seasons. His career ranks: 27th all-time in position player rWAR; 18th all-time in OBA; 4th all-time in SLG (behind only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig); 37th all-time in Home Runs; 9th all-time in WPA; 20th all-time in Adjusted Batting Wins. He’s already among the elite pantheon of players with 11 fewer seasons than Ruth and Barry Bonds and five fewer than Williams and Gehrig.

    What makes the manager cool: Do you like pitching changes? Even with a complete game by Carpenter in Game 5 of the NLDS, LaRussa used an average of 5 pitchers in each game. (Charlie Manuel used about 3.5 per game and Ron Roenicke used about 4 per game for comparison. On the other side, Washington averaged 5 pitchers per game as well.)

    Information to make you sound like Tim McCarver for your home color commentary:

    “The Missouri State Bird isn’t even the Cardinal, it’s the Eastern Bluebird, a bird that is blue with an orange breast. Those aren’t even the colors of the Cardinals. Also, little known fact, birds in general, let alone Cardinals, don’t tend to perch on bats because they are often engaged in bunting and hitting behind the runner.”

    “The tallest player on the Cardinals is 6-6 pitcher Chris Carpenter. When I played the game, I played for the Cardinals and I caught Bob Gibson. He was only 6-1. That’s five inches shorter and a first and last name that start with different letters. The game sure has changed.”

    “The heaviest player when I played for the Cardinals in 1967 was 220-pound Mike Torrez. These Cardinals have 250-pound Lance Lynn. It’s like if you would strap a 30 pound golden retriever to the back of Torrez. Now, some of you might ask, why would you strap a golden retriever to your back? Why indeed.”

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    About Jason McClain

    Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."

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