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world series hysteria

we've gotten to that point where our local sports journalists write articles about thrilling topics, like "sometimes good things happen in baseball, and sometimes bad things happen, and if the cardinals want to win, they have to have more good things than bad things happen."

and really that's all there is to say. it's a little bit dumb to dress it up as if it meant more than that, but mostly my response is: "WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! WORLD SERIES!!!"

but you can't write that in a newspaper, or even in a blog post (as the exclusive content, at least).

with the season down to what is at most five games between two pretty evenly matched teams, the outcome of the series is probably pretty close to even odds.

the cardinals face off against the rangers for three games in Arlington, in one of the most notorious hitter's parks in baseball. with lance berkman, albert pujols, matt holliday, allen craig, and david freese almost certainly in the starting lineup for all three games, the cardinals have to like their odds of taking a couple games in arlington.

rangers stadium (nee ameriquest field) averages 2.80 HR per game, more than any other field in MLB. camden yards, yankee stadium, and great american ballpark are the only other stadia averaging more than 2.50 HR/game. the AL averages 2.00 HR/game, while the NL averages 1.76 HR/game. neutralizing that perspective for the quality of the rangers offense, the park factor on homers in arlington is 1.50, meaning that you'll see three homers for every two in a neutral stadium. 

for perspective, busch has a 0.774 HR factor, meaning that you'll see about three homers for every four in a neutral stadium, and about one for every two at rangers stadium.

this extreme park factor means that players like, oh, say, nelson cruz who derive a huge amount of their value from HR power and are comparatively weak in other categories (.312 OBP) look pretty pedestrian in a park neutral analysis. by wRC+, for instance, cruz ranks with edwin encarnacion and jeff francoeur this year.

the cardinals - when compared by a neutralized stat - look pretty decent compared to the rangers. four cardinals are putting out wRC+s of 140 or better: berkman (159); craig (158); holliday (154); and pujols (148), with several guys looking pretty sharp on the backend: molina (123); punto (123); freese (122); jay (112).

texas, by contrast, has one obvious star in napoli (178), with a trail of guys who are solid on the offensive side but not spectactular: beltre (134); hamilton (129); kinsler (128); young (127); the aforementioned cruz (116); and gentry (108).

this is a team that gave 1600 PAs to subpar hitters like endy chavez (98), murphy (93), torrealba (84), and mitch moreland (92). i won't lump andrus in here, since he's obviously on the team for his tremendous defense. while torrealba's a catcher, molina is an upgrade both defensively and offensively. of the other underachievers, two are primarily OF and another is a 1B.

that leaves the rangers with at least one weak link in the OF, even in st. louis; in texas, their deficits arguably get worse; with one of their strong hitters (probably young) DHing, they're likely to have a subpar offensive talent both in the OF and at first. compound that with the fact that the DH slot opens room for allen craig to appear all game long, and the cardinals are improving offensively while texas is getting worse. perversely, the DH rule may favor the NL team.

i  disagree with the notion espoused on fangraphs that it won't affect the teams (although i think the notion pushed on fangraphs was rebutting the assumption that the DH rule would help the AL team at home, and the lack of it would hurt the AL team away - the article just didn't go far enough to look at how much worse the bench bats in texas are, and how much better the bench bats are - or at least allen craig is - in st. louis). the writer just didn't go far enough; not only will it not work out the way people think, it will work out in the reverse fashion.

probably texas's best alignment would involve gentry in center (who in a small sample has only been a tick off jay's offensive production), with hamilton in LF, young at DH, and moreland at 1B.

game thread up later today.