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MLB MLB PlayoffsSt Louis Cardinals

NLCS 2013: 5 Most Important Batters for St. Louis Cardinals

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5 Most Important Cardinals Hitters

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The loss of Allen Craig threatened to derail the St. Louis Cardinals’ playoff hopes. He was one of their best hitters in 2013, batting .315 with 13 home runs and 97 RBIs. More impressive were his historic statistics with men on base. His .454 batting average with RISP was the third-highest by any player in the last 40 years – only George Brett and Tony Gwynn have done better.

But teams do not win 97 games on the strength of one bat alone, which means Craig was not the only dangerous hitter in the St. Louis lineup. This bodes well for the Red Birds because the Los Angeles Dodgers’ lineup is loaded.

They have speed with Carl Crawford and power with Adrian Gonzalez. Hanley Ramirez only needed 85 games to put up MVP-caliber numbers. Yasiel Puig assumed the rookie phenom role from Mike Trout and catalyzed a team that had the best 50-game stretch in the history of baseball.

L.A. also boasts one of the game's best pitching rotations in Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The Cardinals must find a way to beat them, or at the very least get to the bullpen to have any shot at reaching the World Series.

These are the five most important batters for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 NLCS. Some may find it surprising that Matt Holliday did not make the list. This is not to say his bat is not important – he’s arguably their greatest power threat – rather, there are five others who mean more to the Cardinals’ hopes of advancing to the Fall Classic.

James O’Hare is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @JimboOHare, like him on Facebook and add him to your network on Google.

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5. Matt Adams

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It’s fitting that one of the guys who has stepped up the most in Craig’s absence is the guy who replaced him in the lineup: Matt Adams. He has a big all-or-nothing type swing, but lately the gamble has paid off. Adams batted .316 in the Divisional Series, with a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored.

It’s rumored that Craig may be available if the Cardinals make it to the World Series. If this is the case, you can bet that Adams will be demoted to pinch-hitter/designated hitter duties, depending on the ballpark. Still, he’s been a solid replacement this October.

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4. David Freese

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David Freese was the hero in 2011 but had a down year in 2013. He only batted .188 in the Divisional Series. Nevertheless, he drove in four runs against the Pirates, including a crucial two-run homer that gave the Cards the lead in Game 5.

Freese has repeatedly demonstrated his ability to come through in the clutch. He may not put up huge numbers, but he produces when it matters most.

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3. Matt Carpenter

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Carpenter batted .318 in the regular season and led the National League with 199 hits and 129 runs scored. He struggled in the Divisional Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates as well as in Game 1 of the Championship Series, but out of the three times he’s been on base this postseason, he’s scored twice.

Basically, if he gets on base, he scores. If Carpenter can get hot, the Dodgers will be in serious trouble.

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2. Yadier Molina

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Yadier Molina is known more for his stellar defense than his bat. Despite his reputation, Molina batted a career-high .319 this year and will likely be considered for the MVP Award. He’s a veteran leader and has delivered clutch hits for the Cardinals throughout his career. St. Louis will need his bat as well as his glove to advance to the World Series.

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1. Carlos Beltran

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Carlos Beltran is one of the best postseason hitters in the history of the game – and he hasn’t slowed down this October. The switch-hitting right fielder has been a one-man wrecking crew for St. Louis in the 2013 playoffs. He hit two home runs and had six RBIs in the Divisional Series. He continued to produce in Game 1 of the Championship Series as he drove in all three runs, including the walk-off double in the bottom of the 13th inning.

Beltran is the best hitter in the Cardinals' lineup.