Will the St. Louis Cardinals go all the way and win the World Series? Or will they get stopped along the way by the Washington Nationals? Here are a few reasons to believe that the redbirds will make it to the top, and win:
They’ve Won it Before
In major league sports, experience wins championships. This Cardinals team has, arguably, more individual-player playoff experience than any of the other contenders. Every single starting player was on the Cardinals World Series-winning team last year, with the exception of Pete Kozma. Even with this exception, Kozma’s relief shortstop was on last year’s winning team as well. Whether you look at the starting line-up, the closer, or even some of the relief players, they were all there last year, and they’re playing with almost the same consistency and strength.
True, they finished with an 88-74 record this year, as opposed to a 90-72 record in 2011, but we all know that it’s not how you got to the postseason; it’s how you finish it.
The Washington Nationals are playing well, but they don’t have the seasoned experience of the Cards. Baseball scorecards are filled with teams that played well during the season and couldn’t get it done during the playoffs. The Nationals are playing the exact same Cardinals team that took it all last year. Let’s face it, it’s hard to argue with success.
A Talented Lineup
The point can be made that this year’s Cardinal team actually has more talent than last year’s team. This doesn’t just apply to the hitters; it covers pitchers, fielders and closers as well.
Although the Cards don’t have Albert Puljos, the batting roster hasn’t suffered, thanks to Carlos Beltran. Beltran finished with 97 RBI and 32 home runs in the regular season, nearly matching Pujols’ scorecard from last year. Hitter Allen Craig also had a strong finish for the regular season, with 40 RBI and 11 home runs.
Outside of the hitters, the rest of the lineup is just as polished. Catcher Yadier Molina, an MVP candidate for this year, finished the regular season with 76 RBI, 22 home runs, 28 doubles and 12 stolen bases.
As for the pitching lineup, Lance Lynn topped expectations when he stepped in for Chris Carpenter, who developed a shoulder nerve injury during spring training. Lynn stepped up his game and ended up pitching 180 strikeouts during 176 innings. He ended his regular season with a 3.78 ERA and a record of 18-7, making him a superb starter for the team.
For the closing pitcher, the team has the powerful Jason Motte, who achieved 40 saves during the regular season.
It all boils down to two things: strategy and execution. On the strategy front, the team can thank general manager John Mozeliak, who has strategized with the finesse of a five-star general.
Before the 2012 season began, Mozeliak put his players in position like an artist using mosaics; each player in the exact spot to optimize his potential. Working with disadvantages such as losing Albert Pujols and losing Chris Carpenter to injury, Mozeliak was savvy enough to bring in powerhouse Beltran and develop utility pitcher Lynn – all to brilliant effect.
With these factors to consider, it makes sense to back the Cardinals to win another World Series this year. They’ve got the technique and the talent, the consistency and the strategy – and best of all, they’ve been there, done that. They not only talk the talk; they can walk the walk, and they’ve proven it.
Guest post contributed by Hugh Behan on behalf of Youwin Football. Hugh is a freelance writer and team sports enthusiast. His articles mainly appear on sports blogs