World Series: How Rangers and Cardinals match up

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A position-by-position look at the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals going into the World Series, starting Wednesday night at Busch Stadium:

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First Base

Rangers: Michael Young. The team’s primary designated hitter, Young is likely to start at first base over slumping Mitch Moreland in St. Louis, where National League rules eliminate the DH. The longest-tenured Rangers player and a steady leader in the locker room, the versatile Young batted a career-high .338 this season at age 34. Texas has moved him all over the infield and he requested a trade last winter before accepting his new role and compiling his sixth 200-hit season. Young bats cleanup in a power-packed lineup, but he struggled in the playoffs before breaking loose for five RBIs in the ALCS finale.

Cardinals: Albert Pujols. The three-time NL MVP can become a free agent after the World Series and it’s difficult to imagine him in a different uniform. His contract situation has hardly fazed him, though. Perhaps the most feared slugger in baseball, Pujols was on his game in the playoffs, batting .419 with two homers, seven doubles, 10 RBIs and six walks.

Edge: Cardinals.

Second Base

Rangers: Ian Kinsler. Thanks to his impressive combination of power and speed, Kinsler put up a 30-30 season this year (32 HRs, 30 SBs). He also scored 121 runs and drew 89 walks, developing a patient eye in the leadoff spot. Kinsler is a dangerous pull hitter who will feast on mistakes if opposing pitchers aren’t careful.

Cardinals: Ryan Theriot or Nick Punto or Skip Schumaker. St. Louis has used several scrappy players at this position, none with much power at the plate. Texas features three left-handers in the rotation, so Theriot figures to see plenty of playing time. Schumaker, who can also play the outfield, went 6 for 10 with three RBIs in the first round against Philadelphia, then missed the NLCS because of a strained muscle on his right side. He said he expects to be available for the World Series.

Edge: Rangers.

Shortstop

Rangers: Elvis Andrus. Still only 23, Andrus brings speed, energy and a genuine joy for the game. He doesn’t hit many homers, but he can do a lot of things in the No. 2 hole _ bunt, steal, hit-and-run. He’s one of baseball’s most talented defenders, though he made 25 errors this season. Despite his age, Andrus has appeared perfectly comfortable under postseason pressure the past two years.

Cardinals: Rafael Furcal. Limited by injuries three of the last four seasons, Furcal was acquired by general manager John Mozeliak from the Dodgers at the July 31 trade deadline to shore up a trouble spot in St. Louis. The 33-year-old veteran is not the blinding speedster he once was, but he can still spark an offense from his leadoff spot.

Edge: Rangers.

Third Base

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