More valuable: Wacha or Manziel?

Published Oct. 19, 2013 7:39 a.m. ET

There must be something in the water in College Station, Texas.

How else can you explain the success of St. Louis Cardinals rookie pitcher Michael Wacha and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel?

On Friday night, the 22-year-old right-hander Wacha was voted the Most Valuable Player of the National League Championship Series after pitching the Cardinals past the Los Angeles Dodgers and into the World Series.

The Cardinals beat the Dodgers 4-2 in the best-of-7 series with Wacha defeating NL Cy Young favorite Clayton Kershaw twice. In those two starts, the A&M product tossed 13 2/3 scoreless innings and struck out 13.

Meanwhile, if you're not aware of who "Johnny Football" is, you must not pay any attention to college football.

Last December, Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy after a breakout season with the Aggies. "Johnny Football" not only led Texas A&M to an upset victory at No. 1 Alabama, but he also became the first freshman and fifth player in NCAA history to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.

After winning the Heisman, he led A&M to a 41-13 rout of Oklahoma and was named the Offensive MVP of the Cotton Bowl. He tallied 287 passing yards, a bowl-record 229 rushing yards, two touchdown passes and two scores on the ground.


Manziel, who turned 20 on Dec. 6, finished his freshman year with 3,706 passing yards and 26 TDs, while rushing for 1,410 yards and 21 TDs. Not bad for the former QB of Tivy High School in Kerrville, Texas, which is 66 miles northwest of San Antonio.

But back to the diamond. In Friday's 9-0 series-clinching Game 6 victory, Wacha tossed seven innings of two-hit ball, while striking out five and walking one. Six days earlier, Wacha blanked Los Angeles for 6 2/3 innings, recording eight K's and yielding five hits and a walk in a 1-0 victory.

Wacha was born in Iowa City, Iowa and played high school baseball and basketball at Pleasant Grove in Texarkana, Texas, 178 miles east of Dallas. He would pitch two years for Texas A&M in 2010 and '11 before being a first-round draft pick (19th overall) by the Cardinals in the 2012 MLB Draft.

Less than a year later, Wacha made his major league debut, yielding just two hits and one run in a no-decision vs. the Kansas City Royals on May 30.

Wacha finished his rookie campaign 4-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 15 games with nine starts. In his final regular-season outing — and ninth career start — he lost a no-hit bid with one out to go in the ninth when Washington's Ryan Zimmerman hit an infield single.

In Wacha's following start, he took a no-hitter into the eighth before Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez homered with one out in the bottom of the eighth in Game 4 of the NLDS. It was the only hit Wacha allowed in 7 1/3 innings as he was the winning pitcher in a 2-1 victory, which forced a decisive Game 5 (St. Louis won 6-1).

What's next for Wacha as the Cards head to their 19th World Series in franchise history? Manziel and the Aggies lost to Auburn on Saturday, perhaps ending his championship dreams. Will Wacha make this his year?

Whoever wins the ALCS, the Boston Red Sox or Detroit Tigers, better get ready for "Michael Baseball."