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Boston Red Sox's David Ortiz waits to take batting practice during baseball practice Monday, Oct. 21, 2013, in Boston. The Red Sox are preparing to play the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
World Series analysis: How Cardinals, Red Sox stack up
MLB » Red Sox picked to win it in 7 games
First Published Oct 22 2013 02:40 pm • Last Updated Oct 23 2013 12:22 am

A position-by-position look at the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox going into the World Series, starting Wednesday night at Fenway Park:

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First Base

Cardinals: Matt Adams. Though he looks like a beer league softball player, Adams can really hit. Quick hands and a sound swing helped him post 17 homers and 51 RBIs in only 296 at-bats, impressive numbers for a rookie who has filled in admirably since cleanup man Allen Craig was injured in early September. Adams is prone to strikeouts, however, and can be vulnerable against left-handed pitching. Defense is not a strength.

Red Sox: Mike Napoli. After a hip condition showed up during his physical last winter, Napoli settled for an incentive-laden, one-year contract with the Red Sox after the sides had agreed to a $39 million, three-year deal. But the former catcher stayed healthy at first base and fit perfectly in Boston with his ample beard, patient approach and powerful swing. A proven postseason hitter, Napoli had two big homers in the ALCS against Detroit but also struck out 11 times in 20 at-bats.

Edge: Red Sox.

Second Base

Cardinals: Matt Carpenter. Catalyst for the NL’s highest-scoring offense, Carpenter had a breakout season that earned him his first All-Star selection. He led the majors in hits (199), runs (126) and doubles (55), making the leadoff man a surprise MVP contender. Carpenter held his own at second, too, after switching from third base in spring training. Just coming out of a slump, he started to find his stroke in the NLCS against the Dodgers.

Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia. The heart and soul of the gritty Red Sox since their 2007 championship, Pedroia plays with a dirty uniform and an all-out gusto that translates into leadership and wins. It also inspires a string of clichés about the 2008 AL MVP. But there’s no denying how good he is — regardless of size — and how crucial this mighty mite has been to Boston’s success.


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Edge: Even.

Shortstop

Cardinals: Pete Kozma. A light-hitting glove man, Kozma has a knack for feisty at-bats in October. But his true value is on defense, where he really shines. He’d better, because Kozma isn’t much of a threat at the plate. Daniel Descalso also sees playing time at shortstop.

Red Sox: Stephen Drew. The brother of two big leaguers (J.D. and Tim) from a baseball family, this Drew has plenty of talent himself. After hitting .253 with 13 homers and 67 RBIs in his first season with Boston, he slumped to 3 for 35 (.086) in the AL playoffs but kept playing superb defense.

Edge: Red Sox.

Third Base

Cardinals: David Freese. A hometown favorite in St. Louis, Freese was the NLCS and World Series MVP when the Cardinals won it all two years ago. Coming off a mediocre regular season, he’s hitting .189 with four RBIs this October. Still, he remains a threat. Descalso is often a late-inning sub for defense.

Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts. A premier prospect, Bogaerts was called up in August and hit .250 in 44 at-bats over 18 games. But late in the ALCS, he replaced slumping Will Middlebrooks in the starting lineup and it’s easy to see why. The 21-year-old rookie from Aruba shows a sharp eye and pop at the plate, with poise and patience beyond his years. Can he keep it up on the World Series stage?

Edge: Cardinals.

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