CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Cardinals-Phillies: Position by position

Cardinals-Phillies: Position by position

CATCHER

Cardinals
Yadier Molina: .305, 14 HR, 65 RBIs
Gerald Laird: .232, 1 HR, 12 RBIs

Not even Albert Pujols' considerable shadow can eclipse Molina. As important as he is on the field -- taking charge of the staff, possessing an above-average arm -- he led the team in hitting. And he regularly steps up in October; he's a .315 hitter in 32 career postseason games.

Phillies
Carlos Ruiz: .283, 6 HR, 40 RBIs
Brian Schneider: .176, 2 HR, 9 RBIs

Ruiz remains one of the anchors of the Phillies -- winners of five consecutive National League East titles -- a respected leader on the field and producer in the batter's box. Behind every great pitching staff squats a caretaker of a catcher. The league did run considerably more on Ruiz than a year ago. He is known to elevate his game under the postseason glare.

EDGE: Cardinals

FIRST BASE

Cardinals
Albert Pujols: .299, 37 HR, 99 RBIs
Lance Berkman: .301, 31 HR, 94 RBIs

Phillies
Ryan Howard: .253, 33 HR, 116 RBIs
John Mayberry Jr. : .273, 15 HR, 49 RBIs

Pujols' peerless bat gets all the notice, but he is simply a complete baseball monster: a smart baserunner, reliable fielder, vocal team leader. The smart money still has him re-signing with St. Louis, but for current purposes, his possible long good-bye just got longer. Pujols on a mission is something to fear.

Howard had his "poorest" of six full seasons (his career-low OPS was a stunning 250 points off his number of 1.084 when he won the NL MVP Award in 2006). But you have to consider how high he's set his bar: Howard became the first Phillies player to drive in 100-plus runs for a sixth straight season, and the last guy with five did it 78 years ago (Chuck Klein). His defense has continued to improve.

EDGE: Cardinals

SECOND BASE

Cardinals
Skip Schumaker: .283, 2 HR, 38 RBIs
Ryan Theriot: .271, 1 HR, 47 RBIs

Phillies
Chase Utley: .259, 11 HR, 44 RBIs
Pete Orr: .219, 4 RBIs

Manager Tony La Russa has juggled seven different starters at the keystone, but Schumaker, who began the season as the starter, was also there at the end. He is a good contact hitter frequently slotted in the eight-hole, which makes him responsible for turning the lineup over. Quick feet on the DP pivot.

Utley's numbers were down across the board, and the telling decline was in games played -- his season started late due to right knee tendinitis, and was interrupted in September by concussion symptoms. Utley is a big-time, big-money player, and this is his time -- he seemed on the verge of a 2009 World Series MVP trophy, until the Yanks' Hideki Matsui stepped in.

EDGE: Phillies

SHORTSTOP

Cardinals
Rafael Furcal: .231, 8 HR, 28 RBIs
Theriot: .271, 1 HR, 47 RBIs

Phillies
Jimmy Rollins: .268, 16 HR, 63 RBIs
Wilson Valdez: .249, 1 HR, 30 RBIs

Furcal immediately moved in as the regular upon his July 31 trade from the Dodgers and has provided occasionally sparkling, always erratic defense. The Cardinals haven't taken as much advantage of his speed as perhaps they hoped to -- and don't figure to now, with Furcal being slowed by a slight left hamstring strain -- but he has come up with some big hits. Being dealt into a race definitely perked up the 12-season veteran.

Rollins made a reassuring, steady comeback from an injury-wrecked 2010 season to resume his role as an ignitor atop the lineup. Manager Charlie Manuel has occasionally dropped him into the No. 3 spot, but Rollins has scored 65 runs in 104 games leading off, and others taking turns at the top combined for 38. Rollins also led the club in steals. His defense remains airtight.

EDGE: Phillies

THIRD BASE

Cardinals

David Freese: .297, 10 HR, 55 RBIs
Daniel Descalso: .264, 1 HR, 28 RBIs

Phillies

Placido Polanco: .277, 5 HR, 50 RBIs
Valdez: .249, 1 HR, 30 RBIs

Freese's livelier bat eventually gave him the edge over Descalso, who still sees a lot of action at the position and is superior with the glove. Freese knocks in a run about every six at-bats, among the team's best production, and his average jumps to .350 with men in scoring position.

As did many teammates, Polanco limped offensively to the regular-season finish line and wound up with his lowest average since hitting .277 as a 23-year-old for the 1999 Cards. A sports hernia, the latest of his physical woes, briefly shelved him in mid-August. His ability for contact makes him an ideal small-ball weapon.

EDGE: Phillies

OUTFIELD

Cardinals

Matt Holliday: .296, 22 HR, 75 RBIs
Jon Jay: .297, 10 HR, 37 RBIs
Berkman: .301, 31 HR, 94 RBIs
Allen Craig: .315, 11 HR, 40 RBIs
Corey Patterson: .239, 6 HR, 36 RBIs
Schumaker: .283, 2 HR, 38 RBIs

Phillies
Raul Ibanez: .245, 20 HR, 84 RBIs
Shane Victorino: .279, 17 HR, 61 RBIs
Hunter Pence: .314, 22 HR, 97 RBIs
Ben Francisco: .244, 6 HR, 34 RBIs
Domonic Brown: .245, 5 HR, 19 RBIs

Berkman's role as a lifeline is crystal clear. Only Pujols powered more homers or drove in more runs -- production that was desperately needed to take up the slack around him. Holliday missed two weeks in the middle of the season with a quad injury and was impaired down the stretch with a damaged tendon in his right middle finger, all of which held him to his lowest production since his 2004 rookie season. Jay took over full-time in center following the trade of Colby Rasmus in late July but has driven in only nine runs in 52 games since.

Pence has been the rare best-case scenario of Trade Deadline pickups, perfectly fulfilling general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.'s vision since being acquired from Houston. He hit .321 with 10 homers and 31 RBIs in his first 50 games -- compared to the .236-12-48 line the Phillies had gotten in 108 preceding games from a mix of right fielders. Ibanez isn't the same daily threat at 39, but he's still clutch and can lay out for the big defensive play. Victorino may not be Flyin' as much (he stole 19 bases -- his fewest in five years) but he can still get on base and cover a lot of ground.

EDGE: Phillies

STARTING PITCHERS

Cardinals

Chris Carpenter: 11-9, 3.45 ERA, 237 1/3 IP, 191 K
Edwin Jackson: 5-2, 3.58 ERA, 78 IP, 51 K
Kyle Lohse: 14-8, 3.39 ERA, 188 1/3 IP, 111 K
Jaime Garcia: 13-7, 3.56 ERA, 194 2/3 IP, 156 K

Phillies

Roy Halladay: 19-6, 2.35 ERA, 233 2/3 IP, 220 K
Cliff Lee: 17-8, 2.40 ERA, 232 2/3 IP, 238 K
Cole Hamels: 14-9, 2.79 ERA, 216 IP, 194 K
Roy Oswalt: 9-10, 3.69 ERA, 139 IP, 93 K

The Cardinals survived losing Adam Wainwright to Tommy John surgery during Spring Training, finishing in the middle of the pack among NL rotations. While Carpenter hasn't put up the kind of Cy Young-caliber numbers he has in years past, he battled and will be around at the top of the rotation through 2013. The club reached out for Jackson midseason, and he has delivered quality most every time out. Lohse led the club in wins, giving 2008 a run for its money as his career year, and Garcia recovered from a rough August to get back on track in September.

The Phillies step in as the first playoff team to play Rotation Roulette, and every chamber is filled. The stuff on the mound has lived up to the design on the drawing board. Philadelphia starters led the Majors in wins, and beyond their season-long artistry, now there is their postseason legacy to consider. Halladay has a no-hitter, Hamels has a World Series MVP trophy, Lee has one of the finest postseason resumes in history and Oswalt has the best postseason record (5-1) of them all. Combined, they are 20-8 with a 2.89 ERA in October.

EDGE: Phillies

MIDDLE RELIEVERS

Cardinals

Mitchell Boggs: 3.56 ERA, 4 SV, 8 SVO, 60 2/3 IP, 48 K
Octavio Dotel: 3.50 ERA, 3 SV, 3 SVO, 54 IP, 62 K
Kyle McClellan: 12-7, 4.19 ERA, 141 2/3, 76 K
Fernando Salas: 2.28 ERA, 24 SV, 30 SVO, 75 IP, 75 K
Arthur Rhodes: 4.64 ERA, 1 SV, 3 SVO, 33 IP 21 K
Marc Rzepczynski: 3.34 ERA, 0 SV, 4 SVO, 62 IP, 61 K

Phillies

Antonio Bastardo: 2.64 ERA, 8 SV, 9 SVO, 58 IP, 70 K
Brad Lidge: 1.40 ERA, 1 SV, 1 SVO, 19 1/3 IP, 23 K
Michael Stutes: 6-2, 3.63 ERA, 62 IP, 58 K
Vance Worley: 11-3, 3.01 ERA, 131 2/3 IP, 119 K
Kyle Kendrick: 8-6, 3.22 ERA, 114 2/3 IP, 59 K
David Herndon: 3.32 ERA, 1 SV, 2 SVO, 57 IP, 39 K

Salas spent much of the season in the Cardinals' flexible closer role, leading the club with 24 saves in 30 opportunities, with only two coming down the stretch as Jason Motte took back the role. Boggs has been a steady force through 50-plus appearances, eight in the closer role but most coming in the middle innings. McClellan spent the end of the season back in the bullpen after making 17 starts, going 4-0 in April to help cushion blow of Wainwright's injury. Aside from veterans Dotel and Rhodes, the Cardinals have Rzepczynski as an option.

Lidge can still bring a devastating slider, and primary setup man Bastardo held opponents to a .134 opponents' average. The Phillies have to burn two starters in their pen, but at least Kendrick has some relief experience. Worley, in whose starts the Phillies were 16-5, would be the ideal man to take over if a starter gets an early KO -- but what are the chances of that with this rotation?

EDGE: Phillies

CLOSER

Cardinals

Jason Motte: 2.25 ERA, 9 SV, 13 SVO, 68 IP, 63 K

Phillies

Ryan Madson: 2.37 ERA, 32 SV, 34 SVO, 60 2/3 IP, 62 K

It was evident down the stretch that Motte was the closer, even whenLa Russa wasn't naming him as such. Indeed, he's one of five Cardinals who had more than five opportunities, and with nine in 13, he's far behind Salas but he's the man in the seat in September. Motte went 8-for-9 in save chances over the season's final month, giving La Russa the confidence to make him the guy, named or not.

After spelling Lidge during his ebbs for a couple of years, Madson took over permanently in late April and aced the job, converting 31 of his first 33 save opportunities (94 percent). Only 10 of his saves have been three-up, three-down jobs, but he escapes jams by holding batters to a .194 average with men on base.

EDGE: Phillies

BENCH

Cardinals

Craig: .315, 200 AB, 11 HR, 40 RBI
Descalso: .264, 326 AB, 1 HR, 28 RBI
Laird: .232, 95 AB, 1 HR, 12 RBI
Patterson: .239, 6 HR, 36 RBIs
Nick Punto: .278, 1 HR, 20 RBIs
Theriot: .271, , 1 HR, 47 RBI

Phillies

Schneider: .176, 2 HR, 9 RBIs
Mayberry: .273, 15 HR, 49 RBIs
Valdez: .249, 1 HR, 30 RBIs
Ross Gload: .257, 0 HR, 8 RBIs
Francisco: .244, 6 HR, 34 RBIs
Brown: .245, 5 HR, 19 RBIs
Orr: .219, 0 HR, 4 RBIs

Always a key element of a team managed by La Russa, this bench is versatile and deep. Craig has been a go-to guy in the outfield, including the final series when he stepped into Holliday's shoes, and has contributed at three infield spots as well. Punto played sparingly in September but had a 4-for-5 game the final week filling in for injured Furcal at short, and Theriot and Descalso give the club plenty of infield depth. Veteran Patterson has been used mainly as a late defensive replacement, getting about as many at-bats as appearances.

Pence's arrival cast Mayberry as Howard's caddy and a chief bat in a pinch. Schneider is the perfect veteran complement to Ruiz behind the plate but may not be an October factor; Manuel will likely reserve him for an emergency. Orr is solid defensively and can torch a rally off the bench (.357 as a pinch-hitter). The primary weapon in a pinch, however, is Gload, who led the Majors in pinch-hitting at-bats (74) and hits (18). Valdez's versatility carries him all over the infield -- and, of course, he won as many games (one) in relief as did Mariano Rivera.

EDGE: Cardinals

COACHES

Cardinals
Manager: Tony La Russa
Bench coach: Joe Pettini
Hitting coach: Mark McGwire
Pitching coach: Dave Duncan
Bullpen coach: Derek Lilliquist
Third-base coach: Jose Oquendo
First-base coach: Dave McKay

Phillies
Manager: Charlie Manuel
Bench coach: Pete Mackanin
Hitting coach: Greg Gross
Pitching coach: Rich Dubee
Third-base coach: Juan Samuel
First-base coach: Sam Perlozzo

It has been a trying year on many levels for La Russa and his staff, the core of which has been with him for years. But many observers see this as one of La Russa's greatest performances. Missing six games due to a battle with shingles, La Russa has guided the club down the stretch without his pitching lieutenant, Dave Duncan, who has been with his wife while she recuperates from surgery. Lilliquist has taken Duncan's role in his absence, and the rest of the staff's steady presence no doubt had something to do with the Cardinals' late surge.

Dubee's fate as one of the game's most underrated pitching mavens wasn't helped by being in charge of that world-class rotation, but for years his insights have helped Manuel bring a hazy bullpen into focus. Davey Lopes' return to his Dodgers roots triggered the only change: Perlozzo moved across the infield to take over at first, and Samuel came in as the new third-base traffic cop.

EDGE: Phillies

FANS

Cardinals
The red sea of Cardinals fans can be a factor through any postseason series, and there's no doubt going to be some emotion in the room with Pujols' future uncertain.
Phillies
Something else in which they led the Majors; there may be only one Phillie Phanatic, but all 3,680,718 of them were lower-case phanatics. The Phillies led the Majors in attendance for the first time ever, and there is no more uncomfortable venue for visitors than Citizens Bank Park.

EDGE: Phillies

Tom Singer is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow @Tom_Singer on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{}
{}