A look at the best-of-seven World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox:
Cardinals: 2B Matt Carpenter (.318, 11 HRs, 78 RBIs, .392 OBP; led MLB with 199 hits, 126 runs and 55 doubles), RF Carlos Beltran (.296, 24, 84), LF Matt Holliday (.300, 22, 94, .389 OBP), C Yadier Molina (.319, 12, 80), DH Allen Craig (.315, 13, 97, MLB-best .454 average with RISP), 3B David Freese (.262, 9, 60), 1B Matt Adams (.284, 17, 51 in 108 games), CF Jon Jay (.276, 7, 67, 10 SBs) or Shane Robinson (.250, 2, 16 in 144 ABs), SS Pete Kozma (.217, 1, 35) or Daniel Descalso (.238, 5, 43).
Red Sox: CF Jacoby Ellsbury (.298, 9, 53, 92 runs, MLB-best 5 2/56 SBs), RF Shane Victorino (.294, 15, 61, 21 SBs), 2B Dustin Pedroia (.301, 9, 84, 42 doubles, 17 SBs), DH David Ortiz (.309, 30, 103, .959 OPS), 1B Mike Napoli (.259, 23, 92), LF Jonny Gomes (.247, 13, 52) or Daniel Nava (.303, 12, 66), C Jarrod Saltalamacchia (.273, 14, 65), SS Stephen Drew (.253, 13, 67, 8 errors), 3B Xander Bogaerts (.250, 1, 5 in 44 ABs).
Cardinals: RH Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94 ERA, 223 Ks, NL-high 241 2-3 IP), RH Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78 in 15 games, 9 starts; NLCS MVP), RH Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69 in 37 games, 15 starts), RH Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97).
Red Sox: LH Jon Lester (15-8, 2.75, 213 1-3 IP), RH John Lackey (10-13, 3.52, 2 CG), RH Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74), RH Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17 with White Sox and Red Sox).
Cardinals: RH Trevor Rosenthal (2-4, 2.74 ERA, 3 saves), RH Carlos Martinez (2-1, 5.08 in 21 games), RH Seth Maness (5-2, 2.32, 16 GIDP in 62 IP), LH Randy Choate (2-1, 2.29 in 64 games), LH Kevin Siegrist (3-1, 0.45, 39 2-3 IP, 17 hits, 50 Ks, 18 BBs), RH John Axford (7-7, 4.02 in 75 games; 1-0, 1.74 in 13 games with Cardinals after trade from Milwaukee), RH Edward Mujica (2-1, 2.78, 3 7/41 saves), RH Shelby Miller (15-9, 3.06 in 31 starts; led MLB rookies in wins).
Red Sox: RH Koji Uehara (4-1, 1.09, 2 1/24 saves, 101 Ks, 9 BBs, 73 games; ALCS MVP), RH Junichi Tazawa (5-4, 3.16, 71 games), LH Craig Breslow (5-2, 1.81), RH Brandon Workman (6-3, 4.97 in 20 games, 3 starts), LH Felix Doubront (11-6, 4.32 in 29 games, 27 starts), LH Franklin Morales (2-2, 4.62), RH Ryan Dempster (8-9, 4.57 in 32 games, 29 starts).
Cardinals: After winning their 19th pennant, the Cardinals are seeking their 12th World Series title. They nearly repeated as NL champs in 2012 before blowing a 3-1 lead against San Francisco in the NLCS. This year, they opened a 3-1 lead over Los Angeles before dropping Game 5. But the Cardinals closed it out by thumping Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw in the Game 6 clincher. ... When the season is on the line, nobody’s been better than St. Louis. After winning the final two games of their best-of-five division series against Pittsburgh, the Cardinals are 8-1 when facing postseason elimination the past three years. ... The pressure was on throughout the regular season and the Cardinals (97-65) pulled away at the finish from Pittsburgh and Cincinnati to win the NL Central after never leading by more than four games nor trailing by more than four. To win another championship, they’ll need a long list of youngsters to keep coming through for second-year manager Mike Matheny.
Red Sox: Boston (97-65) returned to the postseason for the first time since 2009 after one of the most tumultuous periods in franchise history. Following an unprecedented collapse in September 2011, the Red Sox brought in manager Bobby Valentine to restore order to a clubhouse that had grown complacent under two-time World Series champion Terry Francona. Players rebelled against Valentine and the team won just 69 games — its worst finish in almost half a century. The rebuilding began with the August 2012 trade of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers. ... The AL’s victory in the All-Star game gives them the extra home game in the World Series. ... Under new manager John Farrell, the Red Sox became the second AL team in the three-division era to go from worst to first.
Welcome To The Show: One of the greatest hitters in playoff history, the 36-year-old Beltran has finally reached the first World Series of his 16-year career after three painful losses in Game 7 of the NLCS. Now, an even bigger stage for the eight-time All-Star, who can become a free agent after the season.
Lights Out: Neither closer came into the season with that role, but both have been sensational. Featuring a 100 mph fastball, Rosenthal has 3 saves and 9 strikeouts in 7 scoreless innings this postseason. Uehara inherited the job in Boston when former All-Stars Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey were injured. The 38-year-old right-hander was phenomenal all summer, compiling 27 straight scoreless outings and retiring 37 batters in a row during one stretch. Previously a playoff flop with Texas, he gave up a game-winning homer against Tampa Bay in the ALDS but took home ALCS MVP honors with 3 saves and a win against Detroit. He is 1-1 with 5 saves, 13 Ks and a 1.00 ERA in 9 innings this postseason.
Youth Movement: The Cardinals aren’t the only team with an impressive rookie or two. Late in the ALCS, Farrell benched slumping 3B Will Middlebrooks in favor of Bogaerts, a touted 21-year-old prospect with a keen eye and pop at the plate. Showing poise and patience beyond his years, Bogaerts has a .727 on-base percentage in limited postseason action, with 3 doubles and 5 walks. He’s also scored 7 runs.
Home Turf: The Cardinals went 54-27 at Busch Stadium this season, the second-best home record in the majors, and 5-1 during the playoffs. But they were 2-3 on the road vs. Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, and won’t have the luxury of home-field advantage in the World Series. Meanwhile, the Red Sox went 53-28 at Fenway Park during the regular season. They were 4-1 at home during the playoffs and 3-2 on the road.