2011 World Series Preview and Predictions by WhatIfSports.com From WhatIfSports.com image

Rangers Best Cards to Capture First Title

Rangers win in seven

By Joel Beall, WhatIfSports.com
Oct. 18, 2011

Using our MLB simulation engine we "played" the Texas Rangers versus the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2011 Best-of-Seven World Series 1001 times.

In the table below you will find each teams' chances of advancing to the World Series and how often they win in 4, 5, 6 or 7 games. As you can see, the most likely scenario is the Rangers beating the Cardinals in seven games 19.6 percent of the time.

2011 World Series - 1001 Series Simulations
St. Louis42.34.810.813.912.8
Texas57.77.813.6 16.719.6

The narrative for the 2011 World Series was supposedly scribed last December, as offseason acquisitions for the Boston Red Sox (Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford) and Philadelphia Phillies (Cliff Lee) seemingly set the two ball clubs on a collision course for the Fall Classic. Perhaps the Bronx Bombers would dash the dreams of the Fenway Faithful, and the starting rotation of San Francisco would unquestionably keep the Giants in contention, but few pundits of America's pastime believed the list of contenders extended outside of that list.

<a href="http://msn.foxsports.com/video?vid=a5cc970f-4cc5-4c0c-9b18-edd0f4d33eac" target="_new" title="">WhatifSports: World Series pick</a>

Surely the Cardinals and Rangers didn't merit inclusion in this group of contestants. The story in St. Louis this season was presumed to center on the expected exodus of slugger Albert Pujols, as signing a washed-up Lance Berkman to a squad that finished 2010 with a mediocre 86-76 record instilled little conviction of a postseason run. Any unfounded faith in the Cards was challenged in February with the news that All-Star arm Adam Wainwright would be lost for the season.

And as of late August, this theory held true, as the Redbirds sat 10.5 games back of the Braves in the Wild Card standings. But thanks to an epic Atlanta collapse and a solid St. Louis September (18-8 on the month), the Cardinals found themselves playing in October. Acting as David to Philadelphia's Goliath in the first round, St. Louis fought off elimination at home in Game 4, giving the ball to ace Chris Carpenter for the series' finale in Philly. Carpenter did not disappoint, pitching a three-hit shutout as the Cardinals shocked the baseball world by knocking off the mighty Phils in five. St. Louis handled NL Central foe Milwaukee in six games in the NLCS, earning their first trip to the World Series since 2006.

After battling an unusual slump to start the season, the great Pujols finished the 2011 campaign hitting .299 with 37 homers, 99 RBI and a .366 OBP. Berkman, thought by many to be well past his prime, ignited the offense during Pujols' hitting recession, pacing the Cards with 24 bombs and 63 ribbies during the first half. In the absence of Wainwright, Carpenter provided a steadying presence to the starting staff, leading the NL in innings (237.1) and posting a 2.15 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 46 innings during the September stretch run.

World Series Top BA
Player BA in World Series (Avg.)
Young .354
Napoli .337
Craig .318

As for the Rangers, instead of basking in the glory of the franchise's first World Series appearance in 2010, the team was dealt a blow with the departure of postseason hero Lee to the Senior Circuit. While the attainments of Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli gave their already dangerous lineup two additional big-time bats, questions remained on the Texas rotation, as well as the durability of key aging veterans.

The Rangers initially silenced their critics with a 9-1 run out of the gate in April, but came crashing back to Earth, going 35-40 over their next 75 games to sit at a middling 44-41 heading into Indepedence Day.

But the fireworks of the Fourth of July must have awakened the Rangers, as the team unleashed a 12-game winning streak, vaulting Texas to the top of the AL West. The feisty Angels made things interesting in late August, but the Rangers finished the year with a 10-game advantage over their Anaheim brethren. Texas would go on to dispose of Tampa in the Division Series before weathering Hurricane Verlander in the ALCS to secure a spot in the Fall Classic.

Finishing second in the majors in team round-trippers, the Rangers flaunted five players with 25 or more homers (Ian Kinsler, Beltre, Napoli, Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton). Yet while the power numbers served as a catalyst for the Texas offense, we would be remiss in failing to mention the production of Michael Young. The veteran Young, who requested a trade during Spring Training after feeling misled and alienated by management, played five positions and led the team with a .338 average. C.J. Wilson helped fill Lee's void in the rotation, owning a 2.94 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 223.1 innings for the Rangers.

So who wins the battle to be crowned baseball's best? Thanks to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, we have the ability to break the series down game-by game. Check below to see the results:

Game 1 World Series
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Rangers261Simulate Game
WP: Chris Carpenter LP: C.J. Wilson
Player of the Game: Yadier Molina - 2-3, 5 RBI, 1 HR

Wilson may be the most coveted arm in the offseason, but the Cardinals bashed the Texas ace early and often, putting five runs up in the first and another three in the fourth to take Game 1 by a count of 9-2. Pujols got things started with an RBI single, followed by a run-scoring groundout off the bat of Berkman. Yadier Molina then opened the flood gates with a three-run bomb down the leftfield line. The All-Star catcher contributed again in the fourth inning with a two-run single.

That would be more than enough for the Cardinals' Carpenter. The former Cy Young winner went the distance for St. Louis, surrendering just two runs while striking out six.

Game 2 World Series
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Rangers4102Simulate Game
WP: Colby Lewis LP: Jaime Garcia SV: Neftali Feliz
Player of the Game: Colby Lewis - 6.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 4 Ks

The Cardinals again scored early in the contest, this time with three runs in the first. However, thanks to Yorvit Torrealba and the Ranger bullpen, Texas ties the series at one game apiece with a 4-3 victory in Game 2.

World Series Top ERAs
Player ERA in World Series (Avg.)
Wilson 4.79
Lewis 5.04
Carpenter 5.16

Rafael Furcal smashed a solo shot to center to give St. Louis the early advantage, with a Berkman double and sacrifice fly from NLCS hero David Freese each adding runs later in the first inning off of Rangers' starter Colby Lewis. However, the Texas veteran settled down after a rocky start, and exited after the sixth inning with no further damage to the scoreboard.

Jaime Garcia wasn't as lucky. Despite a three-run lead, the young lefty could not take advantage of his good fortune, conceding a RBI single to Napoli in the second, a run-scoring knock from Cruz in the fourth, and a double to Kinsler that drove in Craig Gentry in the fifth to knot the game. Torrealba continued the onslaught with a line-drive homer in the top of the seventh, and the combination of Mike Adams, Mike Gonzalez and Neftali Feliz went three hitless innings to give the Rangers the W.

Game 3 World Series
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Rangers791Simulate Game
WP: Marc Rzepczynski LP: Mike Adams SV: Fernando Salas
Player of the Game: Matt Holliday - 1-4, 2 RBI, 1 HR

Fireworks erupted in Game 3, with the two teams combining for 16 runs on the night. Unfortunately for the hometown fans in Arlington, it's the visiting Cardinals that conquered by a score of 9-7 thanks to two-RBI games from Allen Craig, Ryan Theriot and Holliday. Both starting pitchers were rocked, as St. Louis' Edwin Jackson relinquished seven runs in six innings and Texas' Derek Holland gave up six in just four innings of work. The Cardinals take a 2-1 series lead despite little help from Pujols, who after a 0-for-5 performance is batting just .143 in the Fall Classic.

Game 4 World Series
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Rangers5121Simulate Game
WP: Matt Harrison LP: Kyle Lohse SV: Neftali Feliz
Player of the Game: Josh Hamilton - 4-4, 1 RBI

David Murphy smashed a clutch two-run homer in the eighth inning to rally the Rangers to a 5-4 win, tying the series at two. Matt Harrison was able to survive a costly error from Elvis Andrus to go eight innings, surrendering just two earned runs to record the win. Josh Hamilton came up big for Texas, going 4-for-4 at the plate, while Young assisted by contributing three knocks of his own in the winning effort.

Speaking of hot, Molina continued to wield a scorching bat, driving in two more runs to give the catcher eight ribbies in the series. Kyle Lohse was commendable, going a strong seven innings for the Cards, but was undone by Murphy's blast in the bottom of the eighth.

Game 5 World Series
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Rangers3111Simulate Game
WP: Chris Carpenter LP: C.J. Wilson SV: Fernando Salas
Player of the Game: Chris Carpenter - 8.1 IP, 11 H, 3 R, 4 Ks

Wilson was smacked for the second time by St. Louis, this time to the tune of six runs and 10 hits, as the Cardinals sit just one victory away from the World Series crown after a 6-3 triumph in Game 5. Carpenter once again was strong for St. Louis, conceding just one run going into the ninth inning before Kinsler and Andrus were able to manage two runs against the veteran ace.

Jon Jay paced the way for the Cardinals with three hits and two RBI, while Theriot added two ribbies of his own. Although he crossed the plate for a run, Pujols remained cold at the plate, sitting at a .182 average as the teams head back to Missouri.

Game 6 World Series
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Rangers15160Simulate Game
WP: Mike Gonzalez LP: Jaime Garcia
Player of the Game: Adrian Beltre - 2-4, 4 RBI, 2 HR

Ron Washington's offense exploded, scoring 14 runs after the fourth inning to give us the most beautiful phrase in the vernacular of sports: "Game 7." The Ranger bullpen proved stalwart again, going 3.1 innings of shutout, hitless ball in relief of the starting pitcher Lewis. Home runs by Kinsler, Beltre and Napoli ignited the Texas offense, and Young chipped in two runs as well.

Molina and Freese once again proved the offensive spark for St. Louis, but Tony La Russa's bunch could not overcome another forgettable performance from Jaime Garcia, who gave up nine hits and nine runs (eight earned) in 6.1 innings.

Game 7 World Series
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Rangers3101Simulate Game
WP: Derek Holland LP: Edwin Jackson SV: Neftali Feliz
Player of the Game: Derek Holland - 8.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 4 Ks

The Rangers are known for their vaunted lineup, but it is the dexterity of Derek Holland that is bringing the World Series trophy to Arlington, as the left-hander went eight strong innings of one-run ball to give Texas a 3-1 victory.

World Series Boppers
Player HRs in World Series (Avg.)
Pujols 1.6
Berkman 1.6
Napoli 1.4

David Murphy, the hero in Game 4, put the Rangers on the board in the fourth with a two-run single to left. Yadier Molina, who terrorized Texas the entire series, added his 10th RBI of the Fall Classic thanks to a solo shot in the bottom of the fourth, but the Rangers answered right back off a run-scoring double from Nelson Cruz in the sixth. That was all the support Holland needed, who finished the game with four strikeouts.

The Rangers' slugging stars shined bright in the series, as Ian Kinsler (.323), Josh Hamilton (.333) and Michael Young (.379) performed at the plate. On the opposite end of that spectrum sat St. Louis, as Pujols (.167) and Berkman (.250) failed in the clutch.

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Joel Beall is the Assistant Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jbeall@whatifsports.com.

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