Red Sox

Red Sox-Cardinals Positional Breakdown: Who Has The Advantage In World Series?

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
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Dustin Pedroia (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Dustin Pedroia (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — By all accounts, the upcoming World Series between the Red Sox and Cardinals will be as evenly matched as it gets. Both teams posted 97-65 records in the regular season, they both defeated divisional foes in the divisional round and they both dispatched the third-best team in their respective leagues in six games to win the pennant.

That’s why both teams are where they are, but obviously only one can emerge as champions in the World Series. So who has the advantage?

Here’s a look around the Internet to see which team is getting the advantage at each position. MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez, Sports Illustrated’s Cliff Corcoran and Jay Jaffe, and Bleacher Report’s Ely Sussman wrote position-by-position breakdowns for the Series, and here’s how it all shakes out.

Starting Pitching

MLB.com: Red Sox
Sports Illustrated: Cardinals
Bleacher Report: Cardinals

Noteworthy: MLB.com says that because the Red Sox went 3-0 against Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, they can neutralize the Cardinals rotation, which the other two outlets say is the better group. However, Bleacher Report says the advantage is just a slight one, and SI says that Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn are the two weakest starters in the Series.

Bullpen

MLB.com: Cardinals
Sports Illustrated: Cardinals
Bleacher Report: Red Sox

Noteworthy: MLB.com differentiates between the bullpen and the closer, giving Boston the advantage in the latter due to Koji Uehara. B/R gives a “very slight” advantage to the Red Sox.

Catcher

MLB.com: Cardinals
Sports Illustrated: Cardinals
Bleacher Report: Cardinals

Noteworthy: Not even close. Yadier Molina is one of the best in the game.

First Base

MLB.com: Red Sox
Sports Illustrated: Red Sox
Bleacher Report: Red Sox

Noteworthy: Mike Napoli sweeps the votes at first base, but he likely won’t be in the lineup for Games 3, 4 and 5, when David Ortiz will probably be playing first base. Matt Adams has also exceeded expectations for St. Louis, leading Bleacher Report to add the “slight” tag to Boston’s advantage.

Second Base

MLB.com: Red Sox
Sports Illustrated: Even
Bleacher Report: Red Sox

Noteworthy: Pedroia gets the edge due to his experience, but all three warn that Matt Carpenter is an MVP-type player for the Cardinals.

Third Base

MLB.com: Cardinals
Sports Illustrated: Red Sox
Bleacher Report: Red Sox

Noteworthy: This one’s interesting, considering Xander Bogaerts has just 61 plate appearances — 11 of them coming this postseason — and David Freese is a former World Series MVP. But Freese is batting .189 in the playoffs, and Bogaerts has a .727 on-base percentage.

Shortstop

MLB.com: Red Sox
Sports Illustrated: Red Sox
Bleacher Report: Red Sox

Noteworthy: This has to be a shock for Red Sox fans, who have watched Stephen Drew struggle mightily for some time now. But Pete Kozma has been just as bad, going 1-for-15 in the NLCS and sporting a .200 average in the postseason, while Drew went 1-for-20 in the ALCS and has an .086 postseason batting average. Drew seems like a more likely candidate to come through, given his better regular-season numbers.

Left Field

MLB.com: Cardinals
Sports Illustrated: Cardinals
Bleacher Report: Cardinals

Noteworthy: No surprise here, as Matt Holliday wins over the Jonny Gomes-Daniel Nava duo on name value alone. Holliday’s not scorching the ball right now, but he’s still a star who is St. Louis’ most dangerous hitter.

Center Field

MLB.com: Red Sox
Sports Illustrated: Red Sox
Bleacher Report: Red Sox

Noteworthy: Nobody is overly impressed with John Jay, and Bleacher Report went out of its way to call this a “very big advantage” for Boston with Jacoby Ellsbury. Jay has been deemed the inferior player, both at the plate and in the field — an issue that only gets more difficult in Fenway Park’s unique center field.

Right Field

MLB.com: Cardinals
Sports Illustrated: Cardinals
Bleacher Report: Red Sox

Noteworthy: Shane Victorino came through with a clutch postseason grand slam over the weekend, but Carlos Beltran’s made a whole career out of performing in the playoffs. B/R gave the edge to Victorino for his outstanding defense in right, but Beltran has more postseason homers than Babe Ruth.

Designated Hitter

MLB.com: Red Sox
Sports Illustrated: Red Sox
Bleacher Report: Red Sox

Noteworthy: Allen Craig’s return to the lineup is a major boost for St. Louis. But Allen Craig is no David Ortiz.

Bench

MLB.com: Red Sox
Sports Illustrated: Red Sox (included with DH)
Bleacher Report: Red Sox

Noteworthy: This one is interesting, considering the AL team may be better prepared for the games without the DH than the NL team. But with base stealer Quintin Berry and solid pinch-hit candidate Daniel Nava, the Red Sox earned the edge.

Overall

MLB.com: Favored Red Sox in 7 out of 12 positions
Sports Illustrated: Favored Red Sox in 6 out of 12 positions, with one tie
Bleacher Report: Favored Red Sox in 9 out of 12 positions

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