So who will be the difference-makers in this year’s World Series?

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How about Boston’s Mike Napoli, who hit a couple of big home runs in the ALCS? Or St. Louis’ Carlos Beltran, who has 12 RBIs in the postseason en route to his first career World Series appearance?

There are stars of past World Series, like Cardinals third baseman David Freese, who was the Series MVP in 2011. And stars of this year’s League Championship Series, such as the Red Sox Shane Victorino, who hit a grand slam in Game 6 to lead Boston to the series win over Detroit.

There are players who get on base to get things started for the teams that scored the most runs in their respective leagues. The Cardinals Matt Carpenter led the majors in hits with 199 and runs with 126 this season. Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury led baseball with 52 stolen bases in 56 attempts, and had six steals in seven tries in the postseason while batting .400.

St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina and Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia always play hard and can come up with big plays offensively and defensively. The Cardinals Matt Holliday and Boston’s David Ortiz provide their teams with power, and can change the course of a game at any moment.

And don’t forget about the pitching. St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright was 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA this season, while Michael Wacha has gone 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in the playoffs and became the first rookie to win the NLCS MVP award since 1997. Jon Lester is 2-1 with a 2.33 ERA in the postseason for the Red Sox after winning 15 games in the regular season. And Clay Buchholz went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA this season.

Both teams have a number of players who can become heroes in this World Series, and it will be interesting to watch how it all turns out.

Cards-Sox Series history: The Cardinals hold a 2-1 edge all-time over the Red Sox in the World Series. The last time the teams met was in 2004, when Boston swept the series in four games to when its first World Series since 1918. In 1967, St. Louis won in seven games, as Bob Gibson won three games for the Cards, including Game 7. The Cardinals also beat the Red Sox in 1947 in seven games.

World Series schedule (all games on FOX):

  • Wed. Oct. 23, Game 1 at Boston, 7:07 p.m.
  • Thur. Oct. 24, Game 2 at Boston, 7:07 p.m.
  • Sat. Oct. 26, Game 3 at St. Louis, 7:07 p.m.
  • Sun. Oct. 27, Game 4 at St. Louis, 7:15 p.m.
  • Mon. Oct. 28, Game 5 at St. Louis, 7:07 p.m.
  • Wed. Oct. 30, Game 6 at Boston, 7:07 p.m.
  • Thur. Oct. 31, Game 7 at Boston, 7:07 p.m.

Series Fact: This will be the first World Series between teams that finished with the best record in each league since 1999, when the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves met. The Cardinals and Red Sox each finished with identical 97-65 records this season.

StatsWatch: Here are the top postseason stats for the Cardinals and Red Sox –

  • Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox, .400 AVG.
  • Matt Adams, Cardinals, .268 AVG.
  • David Ortiz, Red Sox, 3 HR
  • Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, 2 HR
  • Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, 12 RBIs
  • Shane Victorino, Red Sox, 8 RBIs
  • Michael Wacha, Cardinals, 3-0, 0.43 ERA
  • Jon Lester, Red Sox, 2-1, 2.33 ERA
  • Koji Uehara, Red Sox, 5 SAVES
  • Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals, 3 SAVES

Quotable: “When you’re put in this situation, the organization basically says, ‘We don’t know if you can manage or not.’” – Dodgers manager Don Mattingly in a press conference on Monday. The team and Mattingly are working on a multiyear deal, or maybe not, now.

Diamond Notes: Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp had surgery on his left ankle on Monday to remove several spurs. He injured it in July and missed the postseason…Jim Leyland stepped down as manager of the Detroit Tigers on Monday, two days after the Tigers were eliminated in the ALCS by Boston. Leyland, 68, has a 1,769-1,728 record as a major league manager. He has managed in three World Series, winning in 1997 with Florida, and losing in 2006 and 2012 with the Tigers…Nolan Ryan announced his resignation as CEO of the Texas Rangers last week and sold his ownership stake in the club. Ryan, 66, pitched for the Rangers from 1989-93 and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999. He was hired as president of the Rangers in 2008 and given the title of CEO in 2011.

Copyright ã 2013 Bob Hurst. All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Hurst Sports Media.

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