Welcome back to the World Series.
It's going to be a crazy couple of days of predictions and prognostications about what will happen once things get underway in St. Louis on Wednesday night, but before we thought we'd take a moment to look back on how the Rangers got past the Tigers. There was a lot of good and a little bad in the six-game series and we'll take a look at it all in this stock report.
There's no better place to start than with the MVP.
UP: Nelson Cruz had the kind of series that leads to epic poetry and epic nicknames. Mr. October is already taken, but, in deference to Cruz's nationality, Senor Octubre is up for grabs and six homers in an ALCS definitely makes him a contender for the moniker. We've long wondered what Cruz would do if he could stay healthy, but there was nothing that prepared us for the assault he made on the Tigers over six games. Truly impressive work from Cruz.
DOWN: His three subpar playoff outings would be enough to get C.J. Wilson on this list all by themselves, but the fact that he had a hand in this series starting in St. Louis makes it all the worse. Wilson gave up a three-run homer to Prince Fielder in the All-Star Game and the National League earned home-field on the back of that blast more than anything else that happened in Bud Selig's pet project.
UP: The entire bullpen -- well, not Koji Uehara so much -- deserves a round of applause for the work they did in the LCS. The non-Uehara pitchers allowed two earned runs in 26 innings of work, a remarkable body of work and the biggest sign that this year's Rangers team might be superior to the one that lost to the Giants.
DOWN: The notion that starting pitching wins in the postseason has taken a serious beating this October. There's no way to sugarcoat this, the Rangers starters have been awful in the playoffs. The good news is that the only AL team with a higher playoff ERA to make the World Series went on to win it all, as did the next three clubs on the list.
UP: Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler and Mike Napoli all hit well against the Tigers. When you add Cruz to that trio, the lineup looks quite scary indeed although the downside is that Tony La Russa will likely ensure that games go on until dawn by mixing and matching pitchers against the middle of the lineup.
DOWN: There are a lot of column inches to fill around the World Series, so we understand that we're going to have to read a lot of reheated pieces about Michael Young and how close he came to getting traded this offseason. Young's ability to separate the business part of the game from the game itself is laudable, but the attempts to extrapolate that into his being somehow more valuable to the team are tiresome. Young had a good year, but there were six or seven Rangers that were more important contributors this season.
UP: Ron Washington makes a lot of strange decisions in the dugout and he sometimes seems to be watching a different game than the rest of us, but give the man credit for doing something very difficult by bringing the Rangers to two straight World Series. It's been a decade since anyone pulled that off in the American League, so baseball don't go that way all that often. Wash is going to be around for a long time and you're not going to hear any complaints from Rangers fans.