With the start of baseball season beginning next week I begin to think, who is the favorite to win the World Series this October?
I believe it will be the St. Louis Cardinals.
The St. Louis Cardinals are the definition of a consistent championship caliber baseball team. They won a World Series in 2011 and made the World Series last season before losing to the Boston Red Sox.
The Cardinals lost right fielder Carlos Beltran, a playoff legend, this off-season as he signed with the Yankees.
I don’t believe the impact will be noticeable now that first baseman Matt Adams has solidified himself as an everyday player.
Also, Allen Craig is back after being injured during the Cardinals playoff run last season, and he will now move from first base to play right field replacing Beltran.
The Cardinals added Shortstop Jhonny Peralta this winter to a four year $53 million deal. Peralta was part of the Biogenesis suspensions last year, which he served a 50 game suspension.
The signing will help boost the weakest position on its offense.
The team then acquired center fielder Peter Bourjos for 2011 World Series MVP David Freese. Bourjos is a outstanding defensive outfield and a high-quality base stealer; his downside is his bat.
He has a career average of .251,though last season he hit for a career high .274.
Bourjos is projected to be the everyday center fielder to begin this season.
Meanwhile, second baseman Kolten Wong will start his first full season after coming up as a highly touted prospect last season.
The Cardinals are deep off the bench with veteran outfielder Jon Jay and second baseman Mark Ellis.
The best offseason move may have been the release of veteran starting pitcher Jake Westbrook who struggled throughout last year.
The team will, as always, heavy depend on its MVP catcher Yadier Molina to lead the team and remain healthy all season to help their young starting pitchers of Shelby Miller and Michael Wacha.
Wacha will be an interesting watch this season after a phenomenal rookie campaign, will he be able to sustain his success or will he regress?
Another key for the Cardinals being able to win the World Series is having ace Adam Wainwright healthy.
When healthy, Wainwright is among the best pitchers in the National League.
The Cardinals do not depend on their pitching as much as they do their offense.
Last season they broke a record for the best batting average with runners in scoring position.
In the past, the team has relied on clutch hits to propel them to victory, and regression should be expected, but with its mix of savvy veterans and young phenoms the pitching staff may have to lead the team.
The clutch hitting was a historic figure, and it can only be expected to decline this season.
Even though this team may not be as efficient scoring runs offensively, with the growth of Wacha along with Miller this team will find itself winning a third World Series pennant in the last decade.
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Jason C. Croft
“The Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 World Champions of Baseball.”
That’s one of the greatest quotes of my childhood stated by a man of character, Harry Kalas, less than a year before he died.
Unfortunately, I do not see any teams in Pennsylvania hoisting the 2014 World Series crown, or even making the playoffs.
This year though, I will not choose an obvious pick as my contender has in this edition of the Faceoff.
In fact, I will pick a team that hasn’t made the MLB postseason in 28 years.
The 28 year drought is the longest drought in the MLB currently.
Led by Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Alcides Escobar, newly added Omar Infante, along with some decent pitching in James Shields, newly added Jason Vargas, and Jeremy Guthrie, I feel as if the Kansas City Royals have a decent shot to win the World Series if, and only if, they play baseball as a team, and not as individuals.
Last year, the Kansas City Royals were put in a tough position with a not-so-great start, and an amazing finish to fall just short of clinching a spot in the American League postseason.
Eighty-six wins is a decent mark for an MLB team and is usually borderline playoffs.
Unfortunately the Royals had a tough race in the American League last year and finished 5.5 games behind the Rays and six games behind the streaking Cleveland Indians who had won 10 in a row to finish the regular season.
Two key additions come in the top of the batting order for the Kansas City Royals. Norichika Aoki comes in expected to take over as the leadoff hitter, allowing for also newly acquired Omar Infante to bat second.
Another addition that the Royals made was grabbing Jason Vargas to replace Ervin Santana.
Though Vargas is a downgrade from Santana, Vargas is a decent lefty who posted a 23- 19 record over the past two seasons.
The way I see the Royals winning the 2014 World Series though is through ‘small ball’ baseball and gritty baseball.
Being in an American League with teams like the Red Sox, Rays, Twins, White Sox, and Angels is going to be tough.
The Royals, if they want to contend and get to the World Series will have to earn it as a team.
They will have to be aggressive with the way they play, picking up as many runs as possible, especially with a somewhat weak pitching staff.
They will have to take risks, which may cost them games sometimes, but other times would win those games.
I feel if the Royals keep it together as a team, if they have the right chemistry throughout the year, and hold their heads high even in the midst of the tough losing streaks every team goes through in a season, the team will make the playoffs for the first time since 1985.
Also, I feel the Kansas City Royals will win the World Series as the dark horse for the first time since they took the 1985 World Series from St. Louis in a controversial seven game I-70 series.
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