The Cardinals and Red Sox will open up the 2013 World Series in Boston on Wednesday night, a rematch of the 2004 World Series ultimately taken by the Sox in four games. The two teams are, both by their regular season records and various statistical measures, the best teams from their respective leagues.
Let’s go through each aspect of the two teams and see how they match up:
Average: BOS ranked 2nd in AL at .277; STL ranked 2nd in NL at .269
On-base percentage: BOS ranked 1st in AL at .349; STL ranked 1st in NL at .332
Power: BOS ranked 2nd in AL with a .169 isolated power (ISO, which is slugging percentage minus batting average); STL ranked 12th in NL at .133.
Speed: BOS ranked 3rd in AL with 123 stolen bases; STL ranked 15th with 45 stolen bases
Hitting platoon splits
LH hitters vs. LH pitchers: BOS hitters posted a .641 OPS during the regular season; STL hitters posted a .682 OPS
LH hitters vs. RH pitchers: BOS hitters posted an .805 OPS during the regular season; STL hitters posted a .667 OPS
RH hitters vs. RH pitchers: BOS hitters posted a .730 OPS during the regular season; STL hitters posted a .723 OPS
RH hitters vs. LH pitchers: BOS hitters posted an .833 OPS during the regular season; STL hitters posted a .793 OPS
FanGraphs, utilizing Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), rated the Red Sox as the 5th-best defensive team in the AL at +21.6 runs; the Cardinals ranked 14th at -49.4
Rotation ERA: BOS ranked 4th in the AL with a 3.84 ERA from the starting rotation; STL ranked 2nd in the NL at 3.42.
Rotation K/BB: BOS ranked 4th in the AL with a 20% strikeout rate and tied for 13th with an 8.5% walk rate; STL ranked 7th with a 17.6% strikeout rate and tied for 8th with a 7.4% walk rate
Bullpen ERA: BOS ranked 10th in the AL with a 3.70 ERA from the bullpen; STL ranked 8th at 3.45
Bullpen K/BB: BOS ranked 6th in the AL with a 23% strikeout rate and 7th with an 8.7% walk rate; STL ranked tied for 4th with a 22.4% strikeout rate and 1st with a 7.4% walk rate
Pitching platoon splits
LH pitchers vs. LH hitters: BOS pitchers allowed a .663 OPS during the regular season; STL pitchers allowed a .588 OPS
LH pitchers vs. RH hitters: BOS pitchers allowed a .721 OPS during the regular season; STL pitchers allowed a .677 OPS
RH pitchers vs. RH hitters: BOS pitchers allowed a .748 OPS during the regular season; STL pitchers allowed a .665 OPS
RH pitchers vs. LH hitters: BOS pitchers allowed a .683 OPS during the regular season; STL pitchers allowed a .712 OPS
Neither team has announced their official rotation for the World Series yet, but the Cardinals — with an extra day of rest — will likely open up with Adam Wainwright in Game 1. Given how Michael Wacha has performed, it wouldn’t be shocking if he got the nod in Game 2, followed by Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn. Shelby Miller is also an option, but he hasn’t started a game since the end of the regular season. The Cardinals have instead utilized him as a reliever.
For the Red Sox, they will likely go with Jon Lester in Game 1, followed by John Lackey, then Clay Buchholz and Jake Peavy.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.
After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.
The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:
Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.
However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.
There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”
Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:
And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang:
UPDATE: Jason Beck of MLB.com confirms that it’s a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
8:00 p.m. ET: Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the Tigers have avoided arbitration with outfielder J.D. Martinez by agreeing to a two-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved, but Robert Murray of Baseball Essential reported earlier today that he was hearing rumblings about a two-year, $18.5 million deal.
Martinez filed for $8 million and was offered $6 million by the Tigers when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. There has been some talk about a long-term extension, but we heard last week that the two sides were discussing both one- and two-year deals. This new deal will buy out Martinez’s final two years of arbitration, so as of now, he’s still on track to go into free agency after 2017.
After a breakout 2014, Martinez batted .282 with 38 home runs and an .879 OPS over 158 games last season.