I want to start this off by saying that Boston’s Bearded Boys are an intimidating and worthy opponent.
That said, I think that Boston Red Sox fans seriously underestimate the St. Louis Cardinals, and are about to learn a very hard lesson.
Many Boston fans scroll through the Cardinals’ roster and think “Wacha, Kelly, Siegrist, Carpenter, Craig, and Adams? Who are they? They can’t be that good, or I would have heard of them.” I hate to break it to you, but you are very, very, very sorely mistaken.
In an attempt to educate Red Sox fans and prepare them for a series that will be hard fought (even if Boston does win), I want to share a few facts about some of the Cardinals players that you might not recognize immediately.
Matt Carpenter is St. Louis’ starting second baseman. He had never played the position before this season (at any level), but he works harder than nearly any player on the team and it shows. Offensively, he’s a legitimate MVP candidate, having led the league in hits, doubles, and runs. Defensively, you’d never know that he’s supposed to be a third baseman by trade, and the Cards turned more double plays (177) than 28 of the other 29 teams. So he’s not a liability, he’s a stud, and one of the best lead off hitters in baseball. Get ready for him.
Michael Wacha is a name you need to get used to hearing if you plan to follow baseball in the near future. He’s pitched eighteen games (three in the postseason) and has already taken 2 no-hitters beyond the seventh. I know he’s a rookie, but no, pressure does not affect him. He’s won a do-or-die game against the Pirates in Pittsburgh and out dueled Clayton Kershaw twice so far this Wach-tober (as we like to call it). He isn’t scared of Fenway or Boston, and isn’t going to crack under pressure. Expect to see that 0.43 ERA stick around.
Matt Adams has power. I don’t care who you are or how far away that right field fence is: if you leave a pitch on the lower inside part of the plate, the ball will leave the ball park. Period. He’s done it time and again and will continue to do so. Watch him.
Carlos Martinez is going to give the Red Sox hitters nightmares, and not about his hundred mile an hour fastball. I know that your team loves fastballs, but that’s not Martinez’s best pitch. No, that nasty curve ball that moves more than a Plinko chip is his best pitch. He’s been catching comparisons to another famous Martinez that you might know a little bit better. Enjoy trying to hit him. If you can’t, I’m sure that the Dodgers will happily sympathize with you.
Allen Craig hit .454 with runners in scoring position this season. ’nuff said.
Finally, I want to mention a name that you undoubtedly know, but also probably underestimate: Yadier Molina. I fear that Boston may think “yeah, I’m sure he’s good, but no one is actually that good, and we have a ton of speed! Molina can’t actually stop us.” I want to assure you that he really is that good, and I want to tell you a little story:
I have a vivid memory of some ESPN analyst picking the Rangers over the Cardinals in 2011 because Texas’ speed was going to run all over the Cards. If you take a look at the record books, there was exactly 1 stolen base in the 2011 World Series. So much for that theory.
I want to emphasize that I do not think that the Red Sox themselves will be as shocked by the skill of the Cardinals team, and I also don’t think that St. Louis will have an easy time of it, but I do think that if Boston’s fans don’t prepare themselves a little bit, that they may have the wind knocked out of them and that can affect a team a lot. Be careful, Boston fans: this Cardinal team may be much better than you expect.