2011 World Series Series Odds and Predictions – Texas Rangers vs. St. Louis Cardinals Expert Picks and Vegas Series Price: For the second year in a row, the Texas Rangers have won the American League pennant, and they will once again attempt to capture the first World Series title in franchise history. However, doing so won’t be easy against a St. Louis Cardinals’ club that has defied the odds and found ways to win despite being underdogs every step of the way. The story of this year’s champion going to be historical or miraculous, and whichever team ultimately emerges victorious, the next four to seven games should be action packed.
Breaking down the matchup, it’s tough not to start with the offense of both teams. After all, both lineups are loaded with stars, including former MVPs on both sides. That being said, the slight edge has to go to Texas. The Rangers finished the year with a .283 team batting average, which was good enough for the best mark in baseball. They also finished third in runs scored, second in home runs, and second in slugging percentage. The Texas has an almost unfair combination of power and speed, with second baseman Ian Kinsler and shortstop Elvis Andrus at the top of the lineup and outfielders Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz and third baseman Adrian Beltre anchoring the middle. Throw in first baseman Michael Young and catcher Mike Napoli, who both hit over .300, and there simply isn’t a soft spot in the Rangers lineup.
Of course the Cardinals have some firepower of their own. First baseman Albert Pujols is the best player on either team in this matchup, and outfielder Matt Holliday and third baseman David Freese provide more than enough production. During the regular season St. Louis finished with the fifth-best team batting average and the fifth-most runs scored. The Cardinals may not quite have an equal amount of pop in their lineup, but they certainly come close enough to win a championship.
On the mound, both teams have rotations built around a group of reliable starters. For Texas C.J. Wilson would be the closest thing to an ace, and Chris Carpenter holds the same honor for St. Louis. However, the strength of both teams is depth. With apologies to Carpenter, who was an elite pitcher in his prime, there isn’t a starter on either side that is going to be winning a Cy Young. That being said, both teams can win with their fourth starter on the mound almost as easily as they can with their top arm. If the series goes to six or seven games, it really doesn’t favor either side.
Both clubs have enjoyed incredible performances from their bullpens throughout the playoffs. For Texas, Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz form a hard-throwing, shutdown combination at the end of games. In fact, the Rangers probably have the top bullpen in baseball. Meanhwile, the Cardinals have been getting strong showings from Jason Motte, Fernando Salas and everyone else Tony La Russa has called upon. Ironically, the Cardinals couldn’t even find a reliable closer during most of the regular season, but the relievers have been good when it matters most.
In terms of X-factors, Cruz could play the role for the Rangers, while shortstop Rafael Furcal could do the same for St. Louis. Cruz is coming off a record-setting performance against the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS when he hit six home runs and drove in 13 runs. If he stays hot, the already potent Texas lineup becomes even more dangerous. Furcal hasn’t set any records since joining the Cardinals in the second half of the year, but he is the true leadoff man St. Louis has been lacking. He is disruptive when he gets on base, making life even easier for the Pujols and company.
On paper, the Rangers appear to have the slightly better lineup and bullpen. Normally, both factors would make them an obvious favorite to win the World Series. However, St. Louis just has the feel of a team that is destined to win it all. It took an incredible September hot streak coupled with a monumental collapse from the Atlanta Braves just for the Cardinals to sneak into the playoffs. Since then, they have knocked off a Philadelphia Phillies’ team with the best record in the majors and a Milwaukee Brewers’ team with the best home record in baseball. There is no reason the Cardinals can’t continue to defy the odds and knock out the team with the best lineup in baseball as well.
2011 World Series Prediction: St. Louis Cardinals Win in 7 Games
Texas Rangers vs St Louis Cardinals
Texas Rangers -155
St Louis Cardinals +135
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