Three games into the World Series, it's become quite clear which players are ready to rise to the occasion. Unfortunately, we've also seen a number of established stars struggle to perform under the bright lights of the postseason.
The question is: Which struggling hitters will decide the Fall Classic?
|Game||Road Team||Home Team||Date||Time (ET)||TV|
|1||St. Louis Cardinals (1)||Boston Red Sox (8)||Wednesday, Oct. 23||8:07 p.m.||Fox|
|2||St. Louis Cardinals (4)||Boston Red Sox (2)||Thursday, Oct. 24||8:07 p.m.||Fox|
|3||Boston Red Sox (4)||St. Louis Cardinals (5)||Saturday, Oct. 26||8:07 p.m.||Fox|
|4||Boston Red Sox||St. Louis Cardinals||Sunday, Oct. 27||8:15 p.m.||Fox|
|5||Boston Red Sox||St. Louis Cardinals||Monday, Oct. 28||8:07 p.m.||Fox|
|6 (if necessary)||St. Louis Cardinals||Boston Red Sox||Wednesday, Oct. 30||8:07 p.m.||Fox|
|7 (if necessary)||St. Louis Cardinals||Boston Red Sox||Thursday, Oct. 31||8:07 p.m.||Fox|
Shane Victorino, Boston Red Sox
Position: Right fielder
2013 Season Statistics: 122 GP; .294/.351/.451, 26 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 61 RBI
2013 Postseason Statistics: 13 GP; .188/.304/.271, 1 2B, 1 HR, 8 RB
Where in the world is Shane Victorino? That doesn't seem like a question that we'd expect to ask, considering the 32-year-old has played in two World Series and has won a championship ring.
Unfortunately, Boston has yet to receive any form of offensive contribution from the veteran.
Victorino is hitting .188 in 13 postseason games, but that doesn't tell the story here. In 11 plate appearances during the World Series, he's yet to register a single hit against the Cardinals.
The Red Sox are entering a critical stretch of the series after falling into a 1-2 hole on the road against St. Louis. If Boston is to send the series back to Fenway Park, Victorino needs to step up with the clutch hitting he's been known to provide.
He scored two runs during Game 3, and that's certainly a start, but Boston will not survive if Victorino is unable to register hits.
Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
Position: Second baseman
2013 Season Statistics: 157 GP; .318/.392/.481, 55 2B, 7 3B, 11 HR, 78 RBI
2013 Postseason Statistics: 15 GP; .182/.242/.255, 2 2B, 1 3B, 0 HR, 3 RBI
During the 2013 regular season, St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter emerged as one of the best pure hitters in baseball. During the 2013 postseason, Carpenter has nearly cut his batting average in half and can't seem to do much of anything to get the Cardinals offense going.
That's a shocking development for a player who entered the ranks of history just one month ago.
Via @eliassports 5 players have led MLB in hits, doubles, runs in same season-- Matt Carpenter, Pete Rose, Ty Cobb, Nap Lajoie, Ross Barnes— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 29, 2013
As a team, the Cardinals had scored five runs after two World Series games.
Carpenter is the catalyst for St. Louis' offense, as his regular-season batting average of .318 and on-base percentage of .392 displays. Whether he's hitting for extra bases or drawing out at-bats to work a pitcher's arm, there isn't much that Carpenter can't do.
During the playoffs, however, he's hitting .182 with a .242 on-base percentage. He has just three extra-base hits and three total RBI in 15 games played.
How well Carpenter hits in the early innings will determine the outcome of this series.
Stephen Drew, Boston Red Sox
2013 Season Statistics: 124 GP; .253/.333/.443, 29 2B, 8 3B, 13 HR, 67 RBI
2013 Postseason Statistics: 14 GP; .091/.116/.143, 1 3B, 2 RBI
During the 2013 playoffs, Boston shortstop Stephen Drew has been absolutely horrendous at the plate. Through 14 games, he's hit .091 with four hits, a walk and 17 strikeouts in 45 plate appearances.
As strong as he's been on defense, Drew has become a liability in the lineup.
Drew hit a respectable .253 during the regular season, also coming up with a potent stat line of 29 doubles, eight triples, 13 home runs and 67 RBI. During the postseason, however, Drew has gone from 50 extra base hits in 124 games to one in 14.
Going 4-for-44 isn't acceptable in any stretch—specifically during the postseason.
Drew has played well on defense, which is the major reason why he's still in the lineup. With that being said, his struggles at the plate have all but guaranteed an out every time he comes to the plate during the World Series.
If Drew can't get going, Boston will continue to be forced to make untimely adjustments during the Fall Classic.
David Freese, St. Louis Cardinals
Position: Third base
2013 Season Statistics: 14 GP; .262/.340/.381, 26 2B, 1 3B, 9 HR, 60 RBI
2013 Postseason Statistics: 14 GP; .178/.275/.267, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI
During the Cardinals' run to the 2011 World Series title, third baseman David Freese hit .397 with five home runs and 21 RBI in 18 games. In 2012, Freese hit .277 in 14 outings.
In 2013, Freese has been a shell of his old self, hitting .178 after what was an out-of-character regular season.
The Cardinals have stars that have played well in Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina, but Freese's production is vital. He's a middle-of-the-lineup bat who thrives on driving in runs, but thus far, he's struggled to contribute.
Worst of all, Freese hasn't secured an RBI since Oct. 9—a span of eight games.
The Cardinals need Freese to step up and shine at home if they're hoping to secure the World Series title. It'd be naive to place the entire blame for St. Louis' hitting woes on Freese, but the truth is unavoidable: the 30-year-old's struggles have played a major role in the Cardinals' offensive inconsistencies.
It's on Freese to turn things around before it's too late.
Mike Napoli, Boston Red Sox
Position: First baseman
2013 Season Statistics: 139 GP; .259/.360/.482, 38 2B, 2 3B, 23 HR, 92 RBI
2013 Postseason Statistics: 12 GP; .225/.326/.475, 4 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI
If any player is in between struggling and thriving, it's Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli. He's only hitting .225 during the playoffs, but has heated up with two home runs and five RBI in his past six games.
Which team will win the World Series?
Before fans write off Napoli as a nonfactor because of his batting average, it's important to note that he's experienced the hottest start from a run-producing perspective in World Series history. Just check the numbers.
ESPN Stats & Info reports, via Elias, that Napoli is the first player to ever drive in 13 runs in his first eight World Series games. He's also the first player since Reggie Jackson to pick up 13 RBI in any eight-game stretch during the World Series, per Elias.
Napoli's ability to continue producing runs will decide the outcome of this series.
During the 2013 playoffs, Boston is 4-0 during games in which Napoli has registered at least one RBI. The BoSox are 4-5 when Napoli fails to drive in a run.
Need I say more?