Scouting Report: Cards vs. Red Sox

Allen Craig and Xander Bogaerts will be the X factors in the 2013 Fall Classic

Updated: October 23, 2013, 8:32 AM ET
By Dave Cameron | ESPN Insider

Much is made of how baseball in October can often be a crapshoot. The differences between the remaining teams at this point in the season are so small that nearly any outcome is reasonably possible. And yet, it would be hard to argue that when the dust settled, the best team from the American League and the best team from the National League are still playing.

It's a battle of baseball's elite, with two great teams looking to exploit any minor advantage they can find. Let's look at some of the areas that might make a difference in the final series of the season.

Cardinals X factor: Allen Craig

Craig's foot injury has reportedly healed enough for him to hit but not really do anything else. Luckily for St. Louis, they'll get a position to let Craig do exactly that in their road games, and adding him back into the lineup could be a huge boost for the Cardinals, who don't have another logical choice for that spot.

Craig might not have the stature of some of baseball's more well-known sluggers, but over the past three years, Craig ranks 15th in baseball with a 140 wRC+, meaning his offensive production is 40 percent better than the league-average hitter. It's difficult for a guy who racks up as many RBIs as Craig does to be underrated, but because he's a first baseman who specializes in singles and doubles, he tends to get overlooked when discussing the game's impact bats. But when healthy, he absolutely has been one.


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