Here’s my thought process after the ALCS: “WE WON! WORLD SERIES! YES! WOOOOOOO! AL CHAMPS! THIS IS AWESOME…I’m gonna have to write another Advanced Scout, aren’t I?” And so here we are, at the site of the last Advanced Scout of the year. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed making them.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS – 97-65, NL Central Champions
The final opponent is an old Fall Classic foe in the form of the Cardinals. By record, the two best teams made it to the World Series, so I’ll save you some disappointment and say this will most likely not go the same way the 2004 Series went. These Cardinals are armed to the teeth with good position players and they’ve fully embraced they youth movement, with many of their pitchers 25 years old or younger. They’re tough, resilient, and will make for one hell of a finale for baseball in 2013.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
1 – Matt Carpenter – 2B – .318/.392/.481
- Best player on the Cardinals by fWAR, putting up a 7.0 mark this year. Carpenter is a dark horse candidate for NL MVP, and a lock for a Silver Slugger.
- Walks at a 10% rate, which is good, but it’s his 13.7% strikeout rate that really stands out. He’s been unreal with his discipline.
- Average defender. Won’t do anything flashy but won’t hurt you either. Doesn’t run often when he gets on base.
2 – Carlos Beltran – RF – .296/.339/.491
- Of the qualified starters on the Cardinals, Beltran put up a great .195 ISO in 2013. That beat out every other starter on the team. He’s 36 years old.
- Notoriously good postseason hitter. Has a .337/.449/.724 triple slash in 45 postseason games, which comes out to a ridiculous 1.173 OPS.
- The reason he’s only a 2.0 fWAR player is because his defense is awful. He earned a -15.3 UZR this season.
3 – Matt Holliday – LF – .300/.389/.490
- By wRC, Holliday just beats out Carpenter for best hitter on the team. Their slash lines are nearly identical, just Holliday has more home run power.
- Doesn’t strike out a lot either, and walks over 11% of the time to make that point essentially moot. Tied for the second-most SB on the team with 6, oddly enough.
- Like Beltran, Holliday’s not the greatest with the glove. He’s put up a -13 Defensive Runs Saved mark over the course of 2013.
4 – Allen Craig – DH – .315/.373/.457
- In terms of power numbers, Craig had a bit of a down year in 2013. He made up for it by becoming a god with RISP with a .454/.500/.638 triple slash.
- Sky-high .368 BABIP this season. It started even higher but never really regressed all that much. Guess that tends to happen with a 26.9% line drive rate.
- Add Craig to the list of sub-par fielders on the Cardinals. The next guy in the lineup will finally end this trend.
5 – Yadier Molina – C – .319/.359/.477
- The only St. Louis player left from the 2004 World Series. Molina’s been the defensive stalwart behind the plate for the Cardinals ever since then.
- His bat really started to come around in 2011, when he posted a career-high .362 wOBA on his way to a 6.2 fWAR season.
- Always been a fantastic defender, with most defensive systems giving him ratings far above average.
6 – Matt Adams – 1B – .284/.335/.503
- New guy on the block for the Cardinals. Despite being only 23, he hit 17 homers in 319 PAs this year, which projected to be 34 in a full season. Unreal power.
- The price of that power is a 25% strikeout rate. However, he’s still young, so expect that to improve over the next few years.
- Can’t really field all that well either. Cardinals seem to have been going all in on great offensive prospects.
7 – Jon Jay – CF – .276/.351/.370
- After a career-best season in 2012, Jay’s fallen back to earth thanks to a little BABIP regression. But his defense has also pulled off a complete 180 as well.
- Never had a lot of power. Jay’s strongest attribute was his speed, as he’s routinely stolen 10 or more bases over the last three seasons.
- Not really sure what happened with his fielding. He had a 3.7 UZR in ’12, but then it tanked to a -7.3 mark in ’13.
8 – David Freese – 3B – .262/.340/.381
- While a postseason legend, Freese is not someone that particularly terrifying at the play. A .322 wOBA is not something pitchers really fear.
- 2012 was great for Freese, but a 30-point BABIP regression wrecked his slash line in 2013, and his power dried up along with it. His ISO dropped nearly 60 points.
- With that offensive regression came a defensive one as well. A 2.1 DRS in 2012 plummeted to a -14 mark in 2013.
9 – Pete Kozma – SS – .217/.275/.273
- Remember when I said Freese was not particularly terrifying? Well, take that ineptitude at the plate and multiply it twofold, and you’ve got Kozma.
- A .273 SLG & a .056 ISO exposes Kozma’s lack of power, and a 50 wRC is just downright awful. How did the Nationals lose to this guy last year?
- One thing that isn’t awful is Kozma’s glove. His defense grades out at 11 runs above average for the year.
Wainwright has been the workhorse of the Cardinals so far this year. He doesn’t walk people, doesn’t give up homers, and has a 8.16 K/9 to boot. In the postseason, he’s been even deadlier: Wainwright’s given up just one homer, one walk and posted a 58% ground ball rate. Oh, and he’s stranded roughly 84% of the baserunners he allows. This will be a huge challenge for the Sox, even after running the Tigers’ gauntlet of starters in the ALCS.
While Lester hasn’t been quite as dominating, a 90% strand rate certainly helps when you face two top-5 offenses in the Rays & Tigers. In Fenway, Lester needs to limit the long balls as he did during the regular season to the tune of a 0.80 HR/9. If he can get whiffs on his four-seam fastball & cutter, along with sitting 94 with the fastball again, it could be a long day for the Cardinals’ hitters.
Wacha is just another amazing rookie the Cardinals churned out that does what their homegrown players usually do: post a 9.05 K/9 and a 2.92 FIP in his first year in the majors. He’s kept it up in the postseason as well, but he’s halved his home run rate and totes a .149 BABIP against. Now, I’d normally cry “REGRESSION IMMINENT!”, but with it being a seven-game series max, that’s probably not going to happen. However, a little luck on batted balls combined with his 39% fly ball rate suggests he could be due to give up some blasts.
Honestly, what superlative hasn’t been used on John Lackey this postseason? The guy’s been a stud, putting up a 10.50 K/9 and a 0.00 HR/9 all while keeping his batted ball profile the same as the regular season. On top of that, Lackey has a 1.71 FIP in October so far. He’s been out of this world so far for the Red Sox, and a Game 2 start is well-deserved.
Clay Buchholz has been a great example of what happens to a pitcher when he runs out of gas. He’s averaged roughly 5.1 innings in three starts this postseason, and got lit up by the Tigers in both of his starts. He’s got a 8.10 K/9 in October, sure, but a 1.62 HR/9 is pretty scary when you’re facing guys like Beltran or Holliday.
While Kelly was decent during the regular season, his postseason stats leave a few things to be desired. A 3.31 BB/9 & a 1.10 HR/9 just won’t translate well when facing the Red Sox’s patient & powerful hitters, and a 4.33 FIP endorses that belief. However, a 49% ground ball rate and a 3.75 xFIP hint that their might be some better days ahead for Kelly.
Peavy has been frustrating this postseason, to say the least. Despite a 53.3% ground ball rate, he’s been hammered, even though a 3.96 FIP says he’s nowhere close to as bad as that last start. Still, Peavy’s tendency to give up fly balls should work better in Busch than it would in Fenway, and it would kill any BABIP advantage the Cardinals hitters have.
For Lynn, the glaring problem in October has been his 5.40 BB/9 & a .382 BABIP against. Despite those stats, his 4.45 xFIP shows that he really has been that bad, with a terrible 35% line drive rate to boot. He won’t give up many homers, but he’ll let you have first base, no strings attached. And then he might just give up a double or two.
*Game 5: Lester vs. Wainwright
*Game 6: Wacha vs. Lackey
*Game 7: Kelly vs. Buchholz
* – if necessary
- St. Louis
- Allen Craig: Probable for Game 1 of the World Series (October 20th, sprained left foot)
- Nothing new to report.
This is what dreams are made of. The Red Sox need just four wins. Strap yourselves in, this is going to be some kind of awesome.
Guys, baseball’s almost over. After next week, there won’t be any baseball until March. So, most of all, enjoy this. Savor every moment.