Toronto Blue Jays: What Can They Learn from the Cardinals and Rangers?

Stephen Brown@@the__ste (Double Underscore)Correspondent IIOctober 18, 2011

Toronto Blue Jays: What Can They Learn from the Cardinals and Rangers?

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    With the World Series now set, it is clear what made both the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals successful throughout their playoff run.

    What can the Toronto Blue Jays learn from these two teams and how they achieved their World Series aspirations?

    Let us look at four things from both the Cards and the Rangers that made them successful and how the Jays can follow suit in the coming years.

St. Louis: Just Get to the Playoffs

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    St. Louis rode a ridiculous late season surge to just squeak into the playoffs. Since then, they have dismantled the best the National League has to offer in the Phillies and the Brewers.

    The moral of the story is, as long as you get to the playoffs, you have a shot.

    What the Jays can learn: Coming from the daunting A.L East, the Blue Jays don’t necessarily need to win the division outright, they just need to squeak into the playoffs by playing solid ball in September and then after that, anything is possible.

St. Louis: Bonafide All-Star in the Middle of Your Lineup

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    Albert Pujols is the fuel that makes the car run. Albert is batting a ridiculous .419 with nearly a 50 percent chance of reaching base per at bat (.490 OBP).

    The Cardinal offense all starts with Pujols and it is apparent that you need a tremendous stud batting in the middle of your lineup because it makes everyone else that follows much better. Batters that follow Pujols are hitting with runners on base and seeing good pitches (e.g. Freese .425; Holliday .375).

    What the Jays can learn: Having that dynamic hitter batting in the heart of a lineup (see: Bautista, Jose; Votto, Joey or Fielder, Prince) can set up your whole offense especially in the postseason. You need an all-star in the middle of your lineup that creates problems for opposing pitchers on various levels.

St. Louis: Pitching Is Important, but Offense Wins You the Series

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    The Cardinals starters have given up 33 earned runs in 54 and two-thirds innings, adding up to a beautiful 5.44 ERA. If you told anyone that the Cards' starters had a 5.44 ERA in the playoffs, you would have thought they potentially got swept in the divisional series, especially when they played against the Phils in round one.

    What the Jays can learn: The Cardinals are in the World Series thanks in large part to their offense and not their starters. Maybe the Jays should then look to add a premier bat and let their young rotation iron out its own kinks?

St. Louis: Timing Is Everything

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    Although their pitchers have yet to play well consistently, St. Louis has had some timely pitching during their postseason run, namely Game 5 of the NLDS.

    St. Louis would not be where they are today without the shutout thrown by Chris Carpenter in Game 5 over two-time Cy Young winner Roy Halladay.

    Although Carpenter’s ERA is not the greatest, it was the timing of that gem that put St. Louis into the NLCS.

    What the Jays can learn: Perhaps grabbing an old veteran with postseason experience would be a great late season acquisition. The former Blue Jay beat out the other former Blue Jay in a 1-0 game. Or maybe the Jays should learn not to give these guys up!

Texas: Contributions from Everyone

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    The Rangers made it to the World Series by getting contributions from everyone in their offense. No hitter is hitting for a great average like those players for the Cards, but they are coming up big and getting hits when necessary.

    The Cardinals have Freese with 14 RBI and Pujols with 10 but no one else above six, whereas the Rangers have players with 13, 9, seven, seven, six, and five RBI each.

    What the Jays can learn: Lineup cards are very important and having a team that is solid from top to bottom is integral to post-season success. You need offensive production from every player in the lineup.

Texas: Chicks Dig the Long-Ball and so Does the Postseason

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    The Rangers as a team are not destroying the ball and getting on base regularly. Of their everyday starters only Napoli (.316), Hamilton (.293) and Kinsler (.275) are hitting over .243. However, Nelson Cruz has six home runs and 13 RBI and Adrian Beltre has three HR in ten games.

    They don’t always manufacture runs, but many of those home runs were hit at critical times in their NLDS and NLCS matchups.

    What can the Jays learn: The Jays could really use a power bat in the DH spot. Offense, especially the long ball, gets you easy runs and can instantly alter the outcome of a game. The Jays should focus on trying to get a big bat.

Texas: Although Pitching Is Important, Offense Wins You the Series

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    Like the Cards, the Rangers do not have the best starter ERA. Their staff ace C.J. Wilson has an ERA of 8.04. Couple that with an ERA of over 4.50 for the rest of the starters and it is obvious that the Rangers got to the World Series with their bats.

    What the Jays can learn: Like St. Louis, the Rangers have shown that offense gets you postseason success. Remember, the Phillies supposedly had one of the best rotations in MLB history, and they were bounced in the divisional series.

Texas: Timely Hitting

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    Like the Cardinals with Carpenter’s gem and big hits from many of their stars, the Rangers have been successful through some timely hits, most notably Cruz and his jacks.

    In order to win in the postseason you need the timely, storybook hits.

    What the Jays can learn: They need to focus on getting those timely hits from anyone in the lineup and work with what the opposing pitcher gives them. You don’t always need a home run when you have runners in scoring position.