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World Series 2013: Top Players to Watch for in Final Playoff Round

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World Series 2013: Top Players to Watch for in Final Playoff Round
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The MLB playoffs are finally coming to a close as the St. Louis Cardinals will be taking on the Boston Red Sox in the 2013 World Series.  With two great teams going against each other, there are a few key players to watch out for on each team.

It took both of these teams six games to advance to the World Series, but the games ended in very different ways.  The Cardinals won 9-0 over the Los Angeles Dodgers with ease, but the Red Sox won 5-2 over the Detroit Tigers thanks to a seventh-inning grand slam from Shane Victorino.

Now that the stage is set, it's time to look at a couple of the top players to watch for in the World Series.

 

St. Louis Cardinals

Adam Wainwright

Pool/Getty Images

He may only pitch in one or two games, but Adam Wainwright can have a huge impact on this series with a couple of dominating performances.

In his three starts this postseason, Wainwright has been fantastic.  He's gone 2-1 with just a 1.57 ERA over 23 innings pitched in three starts.  His biggest performance came in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Pittsburgh Pirates, tossing a complete game and allowing just one run while striking out six batters.

What makes Wainwright so dangerous is a strong four-seam fastball and cutter along with arguably the best right-handed curveball in the majors.  According to FanGraphs.com, Wainwright's curve has a pitch value of 17.1, the second-best in the majors behind only A.J. Burnett, who has a pitch value of 20.0 for his breaking ball.

If he can start in two games, the Cardinals have a great chance to win both of them, and that could completely change the momentum in this series.

 

Carlos Beltran

It seems like Carlos Beltran always comes up with big hits in the playoffs, and this year has been no different.

In Game 1 of the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Beltran came up big.  He went 2-for-6 on the day and accounted for all three runs for the Cardinals, including the walk-off single to give his team a 1-0 lead in the series.

So far in the playoffs, Beltran has hit just .256, but he's had an on-base percentage of .383 and hit two home runs along with 12 runs batted in.  In the series clincher against the Dodgers, he went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBI.

In 43 career games against the Red Sox during the regular season, Beltran has hit .276 with five home runs and 22 runs batted in.  They may not be his best numbers, but they're solid, and he should be able to come up with some clutch hits in this series.

 

Boston Red Sox

David Ortiz

When you're talking about the Red Sox, it's almost impossible to not mention David Ortiz when discussing top players to watch for.

Obviously, the big play for Ortiz this postseason came in Game 2 of the ALCS.  After the Red Sox were down 0-1 in the series and down 5-1 in Game 2, Ortiz hit a game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia came up with the walk-off hit in the ninth, but Ortiz's bomb had completely changed the momentum of the series.

He may only be hitting .200 this postseason, but Ortiz has three home runs already, and they've all come in critical moments.  

There are few players that are as much of a threat as Ortiz, and with how emotional he almost always seems to be, he can find ways to provide an emotional spark for the Red Sox in this series.

 

Xander Bogaerts

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Despite being only a rookie, the Red Sox have seemed confident to put Xander Bogaerts in some very tough situations this postseason, and so far he's stepped up.

During the regular season, Bogaerts had just 44 at-bats, hitting .250 with 11 hits and seven runs scored.  In the playoffs, he's had six at-bats with three big-time doubles and an on-base percentage of .727.

The Red Sox gave Bogaerts his first career postseason start in Game 5, and he stepped up with a double and a walk.  They gave him the start again in Game 6, and he had two walks along with a double to score two runs in the game.

The World Series is a time for legends to be made, and with how big he was in the ALCS, he has the chance to make a real name for himself against the Cardinals.

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