With the World Series headed to Texas for Games 3 through 5, St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa gets a new wrinkle to consider: the designated hitter. With no DH to lean on in the National League, many senior circuit teams are left scrambling for inadequate options when they reach the final round, but the Cardinals actually have the opposite problem -- they have too many designated hitters to make it an easy choice.
During the regular season, St. Louis ranked just 27th in the major leagues in ultimate zone rating, as it relied on its ability to produce runs at the plate to counteract its lack of fielding prowess. By asking players such as Lance Berkman -- an aging former first baseman with limited mobility -- to roam the outfield, the Cardinals traded defense for offense, but using a designated hitter offers the chance to have the best of both worlds for the next three games.
Berkman would seem to be the natural choice to DH in Texas -- with playoff hero Allen Craig taking his spot in right field -- as he is the Cardinals' worst defensive player. And indeed, according to ESPN's Buster Olney, La Russa said Friday he will do exactly that.
However, with left-handed starters set to take the hill in each game in Texas, the Cardinals could also use the DH in a way that doesn't involve Berkman at all, and increases their chance of winning.