10. None more different — The Cardinals are among the most storied franchises in the big leagues, with 10 World Series titles. The Rangers have never won one, and have only played in Texas since 1972 — by which point the Cards already owned 12 NL pennants.
9. Texas favorites — Tradition aside, the Rangers are relatively heavily favored. They’re going off
somewhere around -160, to the Cards’ +140.
8. Wild shot — St. Louis is trying to join the 2004 Red Sox, 2003 Marlins, 2002 Angels and 1997 Marlins as the only wild cards to win the Series.
7. WAR horses —According to Baseball-reference.com’s WAR statistic, Mike Napoli?(5.5 wins above replacement) is the Series’ most valuable player. Albert Pujols (5.4) is second.
6. Start me up — St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.49 ERA)?and Texas’ C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94) are expected to start Game 1.
5. Pitching in — Texas’ starters posted an atrocious 6.59 ERA in the ALCS. The only time an ALCS-winning rotation posted a higher ERA was the 1977 Yankees’ 7.25.
4. New Bash Brothers? — Texas has a chance to become the first team to win the Series the year after losing it since the 1989 A’s. That Oakland team was managed by Tony LaRussa — the Cardinals’ boss now.
3 Busy in the bullpen — The St. Louis bullpen was only mediocre in the regular season, posting a 3.95 ERA. But it excelled in the NLCS, pitching more total innings than the Cardinals’ starters and
putting up a sterling 1.58 ERA. The notoriously matchup-obsessed LaRussa made a record 28 pitching changes, breaking his own NLCS record.
2. Red hot — Relatively unheralded NLCS MVP David Freese enters the Series on an unreal streak. He’s hit safely in 10 straight games, with five doubles, four HRs and 14 RBIs in the postseason. ALCS?MVP Nelson Cruz, meanwhile, has six playoff dingers.
1. Doing without — Both teams are here despite losing key members of their rotation. Cliff Lee departed Texas as an offseason free agent, and St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright blew out his right elbow way back in February.