Sunday, October 20, 2013


The Boston Red Sox are approximate 13-10 favorites to beat the Cardinals and win the Series. The line is not far off.

Both Boston and St. Louis won 97 games during the regular season. Each led their respective leagues in runs/game. Both led their leagues in batting average with Boston hitting .277 and St. Louis hitting .269. (The AL team is always higher because of the DH, and usually much higher. The Cardinals' .269 is actually “higher” than the Sox's .277, but not significantly so.)

The Boston ERA of 3.79 was 6th in the AL and the Cardinal's ERA of 3.43 was 5th in the NL, so there's not much to choose from in that department. (AL ERA's are always higher than those in the NL, also because of the designated hitter.)

Boston is clearly the best team in the American League and St. Louis is easily the best in the National League. The one big difference between them is home runs. Boston hit 178 of them, 5th in the AL. St. Louis hit only 125, 14th in the NL. This is a large gap, and it will decide the Series.

High batting averages are impressive in the regular season, but they don't matter much in the playoffs. In the regular season, they are accumulated primarily against the 4th and 5th starters and the pitchers at the end of the bullpen. Hitters never see these pitchers in the playoffs, so the big innings that result from four or five or six hits rarely happen. Any pitcher who gives up even two hits in a row is likely to get yanked immediately in favor of the kid with a 97mph heater, and that's the end of the “rally.” Station-to-station hitting is not what wins a World Series. Neither are stolen bases. But homers matter.

A rational man probably does not nibble at the 13-10 line here. I think the Sox are a wee bit better than that, however, so if you are forced by your temperament or by federal regulations to bet on the Series, lay the odds.