World Series 2013: Key Adjustments That Will Decide Fall Classic

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIOctober 26, 2013

The Boston Red Sox took Game 1 in dominant fashion, and the St. Louis Cardinals used opportunistic base-running to win Game 2.

Now, the 2013 World Series is tied at 1-1.

A pair of dramatic games has put the series in toss-up position, as neither team has a true advantage.

The question is, what adjustments much each team make to earn the advantage in the World Series?

World Series Schedule
GameRoad TeamHome TeamDateTime (ET)TV
1St. Louis Cardinals (1)Boston Red Sox (8)Wednesday, Oct. 238:07 p.m.Fox
2St. Louis Cardinals (4)Boston Red Sox (2)Thursday, Oct. 248:07 p.m.Fox
3Boston Red SoxSt. Louis CardinalsSaturday, Oct. 268:07 p.m.Fox
4Boston Red SoxSt. Louis CardinalsSunday, Oct. 278:15 p.m.Fox
5Boston Red SoxSt. Louis CardinalsMonday, Oct. 288:07 p.m.Fox
6 (if necessary)St. Louis CardinalsBoston Red SoxWednesday, Oct. 308:07 p.m.Fox
7 (if necessary)St. Louis CardinalsBoston Red SoxThursday, Oct. 318:07 p.m.Fox
via MLB.com

 

Who's at First?

As the World Series shifts to St. Louis, the most notable change will be the elimination of the designated hitter. Anyone who has ever watched baseball knows just how important the change will be, specifically for the American League champions.

In this instance, Boston will need to find a way to incorporate their top two run producers in the batting lineup.

During the 2013 postseason, designated hitter David Ortiz continues to build upon his Hall of Fame resume.

Current first baseman Mike Napoli, meanwhile, has finally found his hitting stroke, consistently generating runs.

Per Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the Red Sox will take a gamble by starting Ortiz at first base in at least one game.

This is an even more rare decision than you may think.

Ortiz has played 32 games at first base since 2007, seeing time at the position in just six outings during the 2013 regular season. Napoli did play catcher earlier in his career, but he didn't play a single game at the position during the 2013 regular season.

In other words, it's looking like a "one or the other" type of scenario.

Ortiz is hitting .268 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 12 postseason games. Napoli has two home runs and five RBI in his past six appearances.

One way or another, a valuable player will be out of Boston's starting lineup during its three-game road stint.

 

Using Allen Craig

During the 2013 regular season, Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig hit .315 with 13 home runs and a team-high 97 RBI.

During the postseason, Craig has played in just two games due to injury, hitting .286 with a walk and two strikeouts in eight plate appearances.

Craig has been playing at designated hitter during the World Series, and St. Louis will now need to determine just how much it can trust him as a fielder.

Craig isn't incompetent, but he is coming off of a foot injury and hasn't played the field since the regular season.

There's no shortage of defensive versatility when it comes to the 29-year-old RBI machine.

He played 95 games at first base, 25 in left field and 22 in right field, which makes it easier for manager Mike Matheny to plug Craig in.

It simply can't be ignored that he's coming off of a foot injury that forced him to miss the NLDS and NLCS.

Should St. Louis place Craig in the outfield, Matheny would need to move either Matt Holliday or Carlos Beltran to keep them in the lineup. First base seems to be the most logical decision, but it depends heavily on how well Craig can field ground balls.

Matheny has a critical decision ahead of him.

 

Defense, Defense, Defense

If you haven't noticed already, the most significant adjustments for both teams will be made on defense.

This isn't just a reaction to the absence of the designated hitter but to the sloppy style of play that both teams have exhibited in the World Series.

It all starts with preventing unforced errors.

A case could be made that Game 2 was won by St. Louis' opportunistic base running and Boston's defensive mishaps.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Craig Breslow both made costly errors, thus resulting in St. Louis coming back from down 2-1 to ahead 4-2.

Game 1 wasn't any different.

Pete Kozma committed two costly errors for St. Louis, and David Freese made one for the Cardinals.

Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina also let an easy pop fly drop between them, displaying just how influential defense has been in this series.

Whether Matheny and John Farrell opt to shift players around or simply try different formations, something needs to change.

Both teams have left errors decide the outcome of games, and that simply isn't acceptable on this stage.

Both Boston and St. Louis have key adjustments to make.

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