With the 2013 World Series slated to get underway in a mere matter of hours, baseball fans everywhere need to know, just which players on both teams are the very best performers – and likely stand the best chance of nabbing the spotlight for their respective ballclubs over the course of the 2013 Fall Classic.
Now, keep in mind, there are a total of 50 MLB players that will suit up for the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. We are ranking the players in order according to their respective skill levels, history and most importantly: the likelihood they could become MVP of this year’s World Series.
Okay, with that said, let’s get started.
1. Adam Wainwright – RHP – St. Louis Cardinals
Wainwright tied for the league lead in wins (19) in the NL this season and is clearly the best player in this World Series. The hard-throwing right-hander finished 11th in all of baseball in ERA and has allowed just four earned runs in three postseason starts spanning 21.0 innings.
2. Dustin Pedroia – Second Baseman – Boston Red Sox
There’s no other way to say it…Dustin Pedroia is the best all-around player in the 2013 World Series. The 2008 AL MVP can beat you in a multitude of ways even though he’s batting just .256 so far this postseason.
3. Yadier Molina – Catcher – St. Louis (pictured above)
Molina is a flat-out monster, both behind the plate and at it as he hit a robust .319 to finish tied for sixth place in all of baseball. While he is batting just .256 this postseason, Molina is also one of the best defensive catchers in all of baseball and his performance will be crucial in stopping Boston’s speedy Jacoby Ellsbury.
4. David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz – DH – Boston
I don’t care that three games are scheduled to be played without the DH, all I know is that I don’t want to pitch to Ortiz unless I necessarily have to. Boston’s beloved leader was one of just five players to hit 30 home runs and have a .300 batting average this season. Oh, did I forget to mention Big Papi is also the emotional heart and soul of the Bo-Sox?
5. Jon Lester – LHP– Boston
I’ve had a special place in my heart for Lester ever since he beat Lymphoma a few years back. Lest anyone forget, the southpaw hurler started and won the series-clinching Game 4 of the 2007 World series six years ago. Lester has not allowed more than two earned runs in each of his three postseason starts and he will need to be on the top of his game if the Red Sox are going to have a chance.
6. Carlos Beltran – Outfielder – St. Louis
Say what you like about the 1999 AL Rookie of the Year, I say he’s arguably the most dangerous player in this entire series, with his ability to come through at just the right moment. Beltran has the highest on base percentage of any player in MLB postseason history with at least 100 at-bats and has never been throw out while trying to steal a base in the playoffs.
Did You Know that Carlos Beltran and Babe Ruth each hit an identical 15 home runs in 129 postseason at-bats while going ‘yard’ off of an identical 12 different pitchers?
7. Jacoby Ellsbury – Outfielder – Boston
Ellsbury is a monster on the base paths, leading all of baseball in steals this season (53), not to mention the fact that he is batting a blistering .400 this postseason with six stolen bases. Ellsbury is a undeniable four-tool player that does everything extremely well except hit for power.
8. Michael Wacha – RHP – St. Louis
Wacha has been the best starting pitcher this postseason and enters the World Series as the only starter with three postseason wins. More importantly, this young hurler seems to be getting better with each passing start. In 21.0 postseason innings, Wacha has allowed just one earned run on eight hits while striking out 22 batters. If he continues pitching like he has this postseason, Boston could be in trouble.
9. Koji Uehara – RHP Boston
I absolutely love the way Uehara goes about his business. The 38-year-old Japanese import takes the mound, throws strikes and somehow consistently baffles hitters even though he isn’t what anyone could consider a power pitcher. If Uehara and his 0.00 ERA this postseason, takes the mound with a lead, the game is as good as over for the BoSox.
10. Clay Buchholz – RHP – Boston
The Red Sox desperately need Buchholz to pitch like he did in compiling a 12-1 record and 1.74 ERA during the regular season. This postseason, the gifted hurler has been smacked around to the tune of 10 earned runs in just 16.2 innings, though Boston has won each of his last two starts.
11. Matt Carpenter – Second Baseman – St. Louis
The Cardinals have a real keeper in second-year star Matt carpenter after seeing one of their future building blocks bat a robust .318 during the regular season. Unfortunately, he’s also batting a paltry .167 this postseason and has just seven hits and two RBI in 11 games.
12. Mike Napoli – First Base – Boston
Mike Napoli could bust this World Series wide open if he performs like he did for the Texas Rangers in the 2011 Fall Classic. The beefy first baseman hit a robust .350 and smacked two long balls against the Cardinals while driving in 10 runs over the course of the seven-game series. Napoli also hit .300 against Detroit in the in the ALCS, so he’s pretty hot coming into this matchup.
13. Allen Craig – First Base – St. Louis
Craig is another one of the Cardinals’ unassuming stars that just doesn’t garner much notoriety, but gets the job done consistently despite the lack of fanfare. Craig has missed the entire postseason with an ankle injury but he’ll return for the Cards in the World series and he could give them a huge boost after seeing Craig hit .315 during the regular season.
14. Matt Holliday – Outfielder – St. Louis
Holliday hit .300 with 94 RBI and 22 home runs during the regular season, but make note, the Cards’ big-bopper has hit just .222 in 10 World Series games, including a dismal .158 against Texas two years ago.
15. Trevor Rosenthal – RHP – St. Louis
The rookie hurler has some nasty stuff MLB fanatics. In 74 regular season games, Rosenthal struck out a whopping 108 batters while showing some major control by walking just 28 with a stellar 2.63 ERA. In the postseason, he’s been even better in not allowing a single run in six outings while giving up just three hits along the way. Like Boston’s Uehara, if he’s given a lead, the game is generally a wrap/
16. John Lackey – RHP – Boston
Lackey is a former all-star and Cy Young contender that has bounced back from a horrific 2012 to return to near all-star form. Lackey enters the 2013 World Series with a solid 3.00 ERA and 2-0 record. More importantly, the veteran right-hander out-pitched Detroit’s Justin Verlander by tossing 6.2 scoreless innings in Game 3.
17. Shane Victorino – Outfielder – Boston
Victorino may be just a .277 career hitter, but this guy possesses a flair for the dramatic that ranks behind only Big Papi and Carlos Beltran. However, in 11 career World Series games, it should be noted that the Flyin’ Hawaiian has bat a paltry .214 with just four RBI and four runs scored. Overall though, Victorino is a solid .263 hitter with seven long balls in 56 career postseason games, not to mention he makes huge plays in the field with his glove.
18. David Freese – Third Baseman – St. Louis
Freese hit just .262 during the regular season after batting .293 or higher in each of his first four seasons. More importantly, Freese batted just .190 in the NLCS and just doesn’t look ‘right’ if you know what I mean. Still, I wouldn’t put anything past the 2011 World Series MVP after seeing him bat .348 with seven RBI against Texas two years ago.
19. Xander Bogaerts – Infielder – Boston
Bogaerts is supremely talented even if he is extremely young. Boston’s gifted infielder will likely start at third base in the World Series, looking to build on his .500 batting average in six playoff games this postseason.
20. Jonny Gomes – Outfielder – Boston
Just a .244 career hitter, Gomes is a great veteran to have in the clubhouse. Unfortunately, Gomes is just a .156 hitter in 12 career postseason games and has no home runs in his postseason career. Gomes has also never played in a World Series contest before.
21. Junichi Tazawa – RHP – Boston
Tazawa has a 1.80 ERA in eight career postseason appearances spanning 5.0 innings. How do you spell relief? Apparently it’s T-a-z-a-w-a.
22. Lance Lynn – RHP – St. Louis
There’s the good Lance Lynn who went 2-0 with a fine 2.45 ERA in two NLCS starts against the Dodgers and then there’s the bad Lynn who was smacked around by Pittsburgh in the NLDS to the tune of five earned runs in just 4.1 innings of one start. In the 2011 Fall Classic, Lynn was rocked for four earned run in 5.2 innings of one start.
23. Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Catcher – Boston
Saltalamacchia is a solid hitter with a .246 career batting average who comes into this series looking to get untracked after batting .188 with just two RBI and a whopping eight strikeouts in five ALCS starts.
24. Jon Jay – Outfielder – St. Louis
Jay is a career .293 hitter, though he struggled at times this season (.276). Making matters worse is the fact that Jay struggles even more so in the postseason. He hit a pitiful .111 against Texas in the World Series two years ago, garnering just two hits in seven games and 18 at-bats. In eight postseason series overall, Jay is an underachieving .190 career hitter.
25. Stephen Drew – SS – Boston
The younger brother of the infamous J.D. Drew hit .253 during the regular season but has gotten a lot worse this postseason, batting just .133 against Oakland in the ALDS and a pitiful .050 against Detroit in the ALCS. Still, this guy’s glove and range could help the Bo-Sox in this series.
26. Daniel Nava | OF | Red Sox
Nava batted an impressive .303 with a dozen home runs in 134 regular season games, so I’m surprised that he’s taking a back seat to Jonny Gomes right now. In two ALDS and two ALCS games, Nava is batting a solid .273.
27. Craig Breslow – LHP – Boston
In seven career postseason appearances spanning 7.0 innings, Breslow has a 0.00 ERA and has not allowed a single run this postseason.
28. Randy Choate – LHP – St. Louis
Choate has been lights out whenever he pitches in the postseason. The veteran hurler has a stellar 2.00 ERA in a dozen career postseason appearances covering 9.0 innings. As a member of the 2001 Yankees World Series team, Choate allowed just one earned run in 3.2 innings over two appearances.
29. Joe Kelly – RHP – St. Louis
Kelly is talented, but the second-year hurler is still very green. The right-hander was smacked around for 13 hits in just 11.0 innings pitched over two starts against the Dodgers in the NLCS while going 0-1 with a 4.91 ERA…ouch!
30. Matt Adams – First Base – St. Louis
After hitting a solid .284 with 17 home runs in 108 regular season games, Adams hit just .227 against the Dodgers in the NLCS.
31. David Ross – Catcher – Boston
Ross is a career .237 hitter – until he gets into the playoffs that is. In six postseason series, Ross has played in just 10 postseason games but he has compiled a blistering .375 batting average. Ross also went 2-for-4 against Detroit in two games in the ALCS.
32. Carlos Martinez – RHP – St. Louis
Martinez had a 5.08 ERA in 21 regular season appearances and got smacked around by Pittsburgh in the NLDS before bouncing back very nicely against the Dodgers in the NLCS by not allowing a single run in four appearances covering 4.2 innings.
33. Kevin Siegrist – LHP – St. Louis
The young southpaw has put together a nice 3.38 ERA in two postseason appearances this fall while allowing just one earned run over 2.2 total innings. In 45 regular season appearances, Siegrist compiled a jaw-dropping 0.45 ERA.
34. Seth Maness – RHP – St. Louis
The rookie hurler went 5-2 with an impressive 2.32 ERA in 66 regular season appearances while not allowing a single run in five postseason outings during the Cardinals’ run to the World Series.
35. Jake Peavy – RHP – Boston
Peavy isn’t the Cy Young hurler that he once was years ago, but he could surprise in this series if he gets a chance. Unfortunately, that might not be such a good thing seeing as how Peavy has gone 0-3 in four career playoff starts with an astronomical 10.31 ERA over just 18.1 innings.
36. Shane Robinson – Outfielder – St. Louis
Robinson hit just .250 in 99 regular season games, but he did hit a scorching .429 against L.A. in three games of the NLCS.
37. Pete Kozma – Shortstop – St. Louis
Kozma is talented in the field no doubt, but the youngster can’t hit very well at all, batting .217 during the regular season and just .209 in 23 career postseason games. Kozma makes plays in the field, but he also hit a pitiful .67 against the Dodgers in the NLCS.
38. John Axford – RHP – St. Louis
Not only can John Axford bring the heat, but the young hurler has allowed just two earned runs in 10 postseason games while compiling a stellar 1.74 ERA along the way.
39. Felix Doubront – LHP – Boston
Doubront went 11-6 in 27 regular season starts while compiling a respectable 4.32 ERA. In two appearances against Detroit spanning 2.1 innings Doubront never allowed a run.
40. Ryan Dempster – RHP – Boston
Dempster made 29 regular season starts, going 8-9 with a 4.57 ERA, but his greatest value lies in his veteran wisdom right now, not his right arm. The former starter has made two relief appearances this postseason, not allowing a single run in 2.0 innings.
41. Will Middlebrooks – Third Baseman – Boston
Middlebrooks slumped badly from his rookie year and has looked even worse this postseason in batting .231 in the ALDS and a pitiful .100 in five ALCS games. How do you spell bench?
42. Daniel Descalso – Infielder – St. Louis
Descalso used to split time at shortstop with Kozma – until the Cardinals found out he’s not nearly the fielder that the aforementioned starter is now. Descalso hit just .238 in 123 regular season games but hit a robust .286 against the Dodgers in five appearances.
43. Brandon Workman – RHP – Boston
Workman has not allowed a single run in 5.1 postseason innings pitched this fall, including three appearances spanning 4.2 innings in the ALCS.
44. Mike Carp – Utility – Boston
Carp hit an impressive .296 with nine homers in 86 regular season games but is hitless in six career postseason at-bats. Carp will lay at some point in this series.
45. Edward Mujica – RHP – St. Louis
Mujica made one appearance apiece in the NLDS and NLCS respectively, escaping with no runs in one inning the first time around before giving up a homer against the Dodgers in what was likely his last appearance this postseason.
46. Franklin Morales – LHP – Boston
Morales likely won’t play either after giving up one hit and one walk against the only two batters he faced in Game 6 of the ALCS.
47. Kolten Wong – Second Baseman – St. Louis
The rookie hit just .153 in 32 regular season games and is hit-less in five career playoff at-bats this postseason. The youngster won’t play much – if at all in this series.
48. Quintin Berry – Outfielder – Boston
Berry is fast, but he likely won’t see much time as he has zero at-bats this postseason.
49. Adron Chambers – Outfielder – St. Louis
The September call-up hit just .154 in 25 regular season games and has gone 0-for-5 in five plate appearances this postseason.
50. Tony Cruz – Catcher – St. Louis
Cruz hit just .203 in 51 regular season games and is 0-for-1 in his only at-bat this postseason.