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Sports

October 22, 2013

World Series matchups: Sox in 7

(Continued)

Edge: Red Sox.

___

Right Field:

Cardinals: Carlos Beltran

With 12 RBIs this postseason, the 36-year-old Beltran has only added to his resume as one of the game's greatest playoff performers. He's finally in the World Series for the first time in his 16-year career after three painful losses in Game 7 of the NLCS. An eight-time All-Star, Beltran doesn't run as well as he used to, but he's still a frightening force at the plate in clutch situations. The switch-hitter can become a free agent again after the season.

Red Sox: Shane Victorino.

One of those winning players who is much better than his statistics will ever show. As manager Joe Maddon of the rival Rays put it, the speedy Victorino "drips with intangibles." In a fascinating move, he gave up switch-hitting this season, his first with Boston after signing a $39 million, three-year deal, and now bats exclusively right-handed. That has led to more power (15 homers to go with 21 steals) from "The Flyin' Hawaiian." He beat Tampa Bay in the division series with an infield single and finished off Detroit in the ALCS with a grand slam.

Edge: Cardinals.

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Designated Hitter:

Cardinals: Allen Craig

St. Louis banked on Craig when Albert Pujols left as a high-priced free agent following the 2011 World Series title. That move has paid off handsomely. An RBI machine, Craig batted a major league-best .454 with runners in scoring position this season and knocked in 97 despite missing most of September with a sprained left foot. He was sidelined throughout the playoffs, but appears poised to return for the World Series. With a DH allowed under AL rules in Boston, that gives the Cardinals a perfect opportunity to ease Craig back in during the first two games — potentially a huge boost to their already-potent lineup. Perhaps he'll even be ready to play first base at some point in the Series.

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