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The Cardinals clawed their way through the playoffs with a hobbled offense.  Thanks to their pitching they could afford to be a little offensively challenged.  

Despite being a big bat, Craig is often overlooked.
Photo by John Guano, used under creative commons license.

But they’ve had some good news that could be just the edge they need in the World Series.  Allen Craig is coming back.

Craig was the Cardinals' best hitter this season, hitting .315 and leading the team in RBIs with 97.  Had he not missed the last month of the season he might have been at least in the discussion for NL MVP.   That’s a boost the Cards sure can use after hitting just .226 through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

But Craig comes with a load of question marks.  How much rust does he have after a month off?  How healthy is he really?  After all he wasn’t ready to play just a few days ago against the Dodgers, so will he just be a hobbled DH who really isn’t going to offer much?

Certainly if he’s healthy the presence of Craig will be huge for the Cardinals.  Heck it would be huge for any NL team to come into the World Series and realize that they had a real quality DH and didn’t have to just improvise one in the American League park.

And if he’s really healthy he could even reclaim the first base position from Matt Adams when the games go back to St. Louis, giving him even more at bats.

With all those questions, maybe Boston shouldn’t be too concerned.  Craig is a guy who hits for average and was excellent hitting with runners in scoring position.   But unlike Boston’s big boppers, Craig doesn’t offer a lot of game-changing power.  Power for St. Louis lies primarily in the bats of Matt Holliday and St. Louis’ own Mr. October Carlos Beltran, who not only clobbers the ball in the playoffs but also is a career .327 hitter at Fenway park.

But what it boils down to is that Craig could be one factor that could help the Cardinals immensely -- or one that could hurt them if Craig really isn’t ready.  But in reality there are a huge numbers of factors that could help decide this series.

Who really has the advantage?  While many experts are predicting that the Cardinals will run away with this one, I’m not so sure.  The Red Sox do have home field advantage and they do have a lot more power than St. Louis does.  On paper and in terms of pitching the edge favors St. Louis, and Carlos Beltran and Michael Wacha are incredible storylines and they both have the power to change games.

This is going to be a classic matchup.  The team with the best record in the AL versus the team with the best record in the NL.   Hopefully it will be a classic series, one that reminds us about how great the game of baseball really is.