World Series Picks: Rangers vs. Cardinals Betting Odds
by Darin Zank - 10/18/2011
It's not the most glamorous of World Series matchups, but it’s a meeting of two pretty good teams and could feature a lot of scoring when the American League champion Texas Rangers take on the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals starting with Game 1 Wednesday night in St. Louis. Here's a quick breakdown of these two teams, the various matchups and our fearless World Series picks
How They Got Here
After going 86-76 and missing the playoffs last year St. Louis was expected to battle with Cincinnati and Milwaukee for the NL Central crown this year. But the Cardinals got bad news before they even broke camp this spring when SP Adam Wainwright, who placed second in the NL Cy Young Award voting in 2010, went down and out for the year with an elbow injury. So the Cards' chances of making it this far seemed slim back in April, and they went off getting upwards of 18/1 to win the NL pennant.
St. Louis fought with the Brewers in the Central for a good part of the year, but faltered a bit and fell almost 10 games out of the NL playoff picture going into September. The Cardinals then embarked on a late-season surge, won 16 of their last 21 games, and overtook Atlanta for the NL Wild-Card berth on the last day of the season.
St. Louis then upset the top-seeded Philadelphia Phillies in five games in the NL divisional round, and knocked off Milwaukee in six games in the NLCS.
Defending AL champion Texas went off this year getting right around 8/1 to get back to the World Series. The Rangers then jumped out of the gate, winning nine of their first 10, later won 12 in a row in July and finished on a 14-2 run to win the AL West by 10 games.
Texas then beat Tampa Bay in four games in the ALCS, and took care of Detroit in six games in the ALCS to win its second straight pennant.
The Cardinals hold home-field advantage in this World Series thanks to the National League's victory in the All-Star Game back in July.
The St. Louis starting rotation of Chris Carpenter, Kyle Lohse, Jamie Garcia and Edwin Jackson, the expected Games 1 through 4 starters, respectively, combined to go 43-26 this year, with a cumulative earned run average of 3.49. But in these playoffs this foursome has combined to give up 33 earned runs in 55 innings pitched. And in the series vs. Milwaukee not one starter managed to reach the sixth inning. This means either they were awful, or they're well-rested.
The Texas rotation of CJ Wilson, Colby Lewis, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison combined to go 60-31 this year with a 3.66 E.R.A.. And that E.R.A. is more impressive considering Rangers pitchers toil half their time at the hitter-friendly Ballpark in Arlington. But those Rangers starters, especially Wilson, have also struggled in the playoffs, allowing a total of 32 ER in 51 2/3 IP.
So on the whole the matchup of the starting staffs looks pretty equal.
The boys in the pens in this Series will have a lot to do with who eventually wins, based upon the performances of both team's starters in the playoffs so far.
During the regular season the Cardinals bullpen tallied a 3.74 E.R.A., and converted 47 of 73 save opportunities. Good, but not great.
The Rangers pen posted a 3.79 E.R.A. this season, and converted 38 of 57 save chances. Again, good but not great.
In these playoffs St. Louis relievers have allowed 12 ER in 42 IP, while Texas relievers have given up 11 ER in 42 innings.
So again, this matchup looks like a wash.
St. Louis had the best offense in the National League through the regular season, ranking third in the Majors in team on-base percentage at .341 and averaged 4.7 runs per game. And the Cardinal bats exploded in the NLCS against Milwaukee, tagging Brewer pitching for 43 runs in six games.
Texas, meanwhile, ranked fourth in the Majors in team OBP at .340 and averaged 5.3 RPG.
But the Rangers stole 143 bases this season, while St. Louis swiped just 57.
So we're going to give a slight advantage in this department to Texas.
Overall these two teams are very close with the leather, too. The Cardinals committed 116 errors this year, the Rangers 114. And both teams allowed among the fewest stolen bases in the Majors. So again, there's little advantage to be found here.
The Cardinals would seem to have a minor advantage with their pedigree, LaRussa, and the fact that they're playing like they've been this far before. In actuality there are few holdovers from their World Series teams of 2004 and '06. Texas, meanwhile, is still the new kid on the block, even though they played in the World Series last year. St. Louis is a bit more methodical, while the Rangers seem to be more free-wheeling. We looked for an edge in this category, and struggled to find one.
World Series Betting Odds and Trends
As of Tuesday morning Bodog is listing Texas, despite the lack of home-field advantage, as a -155 favorite to win the Series, with St. Louis getting +135 as the underdogs on World Series odds. Bodog is also offering a bunch of World Series prop bets, including odds on the exact outcome of the Series. A Rangers sweep is listed at 8/1; Rangers in seven games is getting 9/2. A Cardinals sweep is priced at 18/1; and the Cardinals in seven is getting 19/4.
The AL and NL have alternated winning the World Series the last six years.
Since home-field advantage has been award to the winner of the All-Star Game starting back in 2003, the teams with HFA have won five of the eight World Series.
The Cardinals and Rangers haven't met head-to-head since 2004.
World Series Picks
We caught an interesting comment from a Rangers pitcher during one of the recent ALCS games played in Arlington. After a long fly-out to right-center field, he said that ball would have been a homer earlier this season. But balls don't seem to be carrying at The Ballpark right now like earlier this year. So maybe the ‘unders’ are an option for the games played in Texas in this Series. That being said, with a lot of things looking equal, we're finding it hard not to go with the team with home-field advantage as an underdog. So we'll take St. Louis to win this Series.
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