The World Series logo is painted on the grass behind home plate at Fenway Park Tuesday. Credit: Getty Images
Although it almost never happens, it’s always fitting when the two best regular season teams in baseball meet in the World Series. Fortunately for baseball fans around the world, this year the two best teams will meet in the Fall Classic, with the Red Sox taking on the St. Louis Cardinals.
Both teams had the best record in their respective leagues, each finishing the regular season, 97-65. Both finished in the top three in most offensive categories, including the Red Sox leading baseball in runs per game at 5.27 and the Cardinals right behind in third, at 4.83. Their pitching staffs were also similar with the Cardinals posting a 3.44 team ERA and the Red Sox right behind at 3.77.
“We’re going up against a very complete team,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “They have very good young pitching, they have good pitching in general. Just what I’ve looked at so far, they are well-balanced, they hit with runners in scoring position like no other and they look to put guys in motion with the hit and run quite a bit. They are a complete team.”
The Red Sox got this far courtesy of a 3-1 series win over the Rays in the ALDS and then a 4-2 series win against the Tigers in the ALCS. The Cards needed the full five games to get by the Pirates and then took care of the Dodgers in six. Even in the playoffs, the teams are evenly matched statistically as the Red Sox have outscored their opponents 45-30 and the Cardinals are right around the same, at 42-28.
Both offenses have been relatively held in check this postseason with the Red Sox averaging 4.5 runs per game while hitting .236 as a team. St. Louis is averaging just 3.81 runs a game and is hitting .210. The respective bullpens have picked up the slack as both have miniscule bullpen ERAs in October as the Cardinals staff has a 1.08 mark, with the Red Sox even better at 0.84.
With the American League winning the All-Star game the Red Sox will get home field advantage for the 2-3-2 series, which will begin Wednesday night (8:07, FOX) as Jon Lester will get the ball for the Red Sox and will be opposed by Adam Wainwright.
The Cardinals have a number of young stars, as well as core veterans that have mostly all been home-grown, which is something the Red Sox have a great deal of respect for.
“I just know we’re going up against a team that when you look on paper, they are probably the blueprint of how many organizations aspire to be,” Farrell said. “They are the epitome of what player development and scouting is. We’re looking forward to getting on the field with them.”
With the talent and success in each dugout, this World Series has the potential to be one for the ages.
Follow Metro Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter@Hannable84