Special thanks to contributing writer James Boyce.
World Series Preview
So it comes down to the Giants vs the Royals – the masters of the even year vs an 8-game win streak – both have the “team of destiny” thing about them – and both are teams I like. On the one hand, the Royals haven’t won in 29 years, so it would be nice to see them win. On the other, the Giants got this even year thing going and it would be neat to see them continue it. The Royals have been playing some exciting baseball, at the plate and on the field – hitting, stealing, bunting, and catching everything. Their pitching has been solid, their starters just OK, but their bullpen has been lights out. The Giants, well, they just keep finding unusual ways to score runs and win – in 18 innings without hits, by errors, by wild pitches, etc. My favorite player in the World Series is Madison Bumgarner (who reminds me a little of Sid the Sloth from Ice Age). A distant second is probably Buster Posey. My favorite player on the Royals is probably Wade Davis, fantasy beast. I’d rather have him than Wil Myers right now.
The Royals seem to be the better hitting team, and they have been recently, but its closer than you might think, a team .259 AVG and .331 OBP to the Giants .244 and .313. The Royals have a substantial edge in steals and although the Royals’ bullpen trio has gotten a lot of press, the Giants bullpen trio is on par. The Giants have the better starting pitching, or perhaps the best starting pitcher in Bumgarner, but again, the edge is closer than you might think, the Giants have a team 2.18 ERA and 0.95 WHIP to the Royals 2.93 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. The Giants probably have the better (certainly more experienced) manager, but Yost has the edge in aggressive bunting tactics. The Royals clinched the series with a Lorenzo Cain bunt and throwing error. He had his best and hottest hitter bunt with men on 1st and 2nd with no outs…and it worked! It’s madness. It Yost baseball. Overall playoff team stats (not counting the WC losing teams), the Giants and Royals rank 2-3 in Pitching (with the Nationals at #1 and the Tigers last), and the Royals and Giants rank 3-4 in Hitting (with the Dodgers at #1 and the Nationals last).
So who wins …..? I am going to go with the Giants, but I’ll be happy if the Royals win as well. My reasoning behind the Giants pick – Madison Bumgarner in G1 has been lights out on the road up against “Big Game” James Shields, who really hasn’t been that Big Game at all, quite mediocre. “Game” Jame Shields. I think if the Giants win G1, then the Royals suddenly might feel that their karma has left them, and the Giants could be heading home to take it in five. I just think that the Giants starting pitching is a bit better, and to get to Herrera, Davis, and Holland, the Royals need a lead. The Giants also play a similar game to the Royals who faced 3 teams who preferred to hit 3-run HRs and then having those teams not hit those HRs. However, if the Royals somehow find a way to beat Bumgarner and win G1, well, I could see them winning 12 in a row.
Team Playoff Rankings
1A. Giants (9) – don’t want to be facing them in an even year.
1B. Kansas City (8) – have been playing exiting baseball. 8 wins in a row in the playoffs. Key play for Royals was the Dyson steal of third in the 9th v the A’s. Most teams wouldn’t take that risk. If he got thrown out at 3rd the Royals lose. If he doesn’t though, he only goes to 3rd on the Aoki fly-out to RF and the Royals lose. Several teams had the tying run (and a relatively fast runner) on 1st late in the game and didn’t attempt to steal 2nd. I thought it was risk adverse, and sometimes you have to take a chance on.
3. Cardinals (5) – took a game from the Giants.
4. Orioles (3) – got swept by the Royals.
5. Nationals (2) – took a game from the Giants.
6. Dodgers (4) – took a game from the Cardinals.
7. Angels (1) – got swept by the Royals.
8. Tigers – got swept by the Orioles.
9. Athletics – lost an extra inning heartbreaker to the Royals.
10. Pirates – got shutout by the Giants.
Notable Hitters During the Playoffs
C – Buster Posey, SF has been solid on offense and getting a lot of praise for his pitch framing. Salvador Perez, KC has looked awful at the plate. He did get the GW hit against Oakland, but not much else since, I honestly can’t remember him getting another hit outside that one…he swings at everything.
1B – Eric Hosmer, KC is hitting .448 with an OBP of .556. Brandon Moss, OAK had 2 HRs in the WC game. Too bad he didn’t get a chance at any more.
2B – Kolten Wong, STL rocked 3 HRs including a game winner. Joe Panik, SF has been the antonym of his name, providing dependable solid all around play. Remember Dan Uggla’s 3 game stint for this team?
3B – Matt Carpenter, STL surprised with 4 HRs and 8 RBIs. Mike “the Moose” Moustakas, KC has also hit 4 HRs and is playing stellar defense.
SS – Hanley Ramirez, LA – hit .455 in 14 ABs. SS has been pretty weak, and yet the Royals have a strong lead off hitter in Alcides Escobar – I guess its working.
OF/LF – Alex Gordon, KC, although he’s only hitting .222, he has a OBP of .400, leads all outfielders with 9 RBIs, and as with all the KC OF gang, is catching anything hit in the air. Bryce Harper, WAS, was one of the few Nationals that hit, banging out 3 HRs. John Jay, STL hit .483, with 14 hits, and an OPB of .571.
OF/CF – Lorenzo Cain, KC – hitting .353, leads all outfielders with 9 runs scored, and is playing great OF defense. He only has 2 SBs, but I could of sworn he had more. Alex Gordon and pinch runner Terrance Gore have 3 a piece.
OF/RF – Norichika Aoki, KC. Have to get all the KC OF starters in here for their stellar defense. Aoki puts the ball in play, had the big sac fly in the WC game, and has 6 runs scored. Hunter Pence, SF solid all around player, and I like how he chokes up on the bat.
DH – Nelson Cruz, BAL, hit 2 HRs w 7 RBIs. Victor Martinez, DET hit 1 HR w 3 RBIs.
UT – Jarrod Dyson, KC and Terrance Gore, KC. Pinch Runners, OF Defense.
SP – Madison Bumgarner, SF – 31 IPs, just about double his G1 mound opponent, James Shields, at 16 IPs and 2nd in IP playoff leaders. The MadBum (or Sid the Sloth) is the key to the WS and has 2 Ws, a 1.42 ERA, a 0.76 WHIP, and a .170 AVG against. He will be tough to beat as long as he doesn’t make anymore costly errors.
SP – “Big Game” James Shields, KC on the other hand, clocks in with a 5.63 ERA, a 1.63 WHIP and a .306 AVG against. He either starts living up to his moniker or it’s time for new one. Adam Wainwright, STL, almost identical #s.
SP – Clayton Kershaw, LAD. 0-2 and a 7.82 ERA, came down to 2 really bad innings. Jon Lester, OAK came down to 1 really bad inning.
SP – Jordan Zimmermann, WAS – 1 out away from a complete game shutout, was taken out, and the game, and the series, were subsequently lost. Matt Williams will hopefully learn from this and other mistakes in managing his pitching staff. Teammate Doug Fister also pitched very well in his 1 game.
SP – The 2-3-4 starters of the Royals Yordano Ventura, Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie, KC versus the Giants Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson and Ryan Vogelsong, SF. The Royal trio combined for 29 1/3 IP, a 3.38 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP, and 18 Ks. The Giants trio combined for 32 IP, a 3.38 ERA (the same!), a 1.22 WHIP (a bit higher), and 23Ks. 1 rookie and 2 crafty veterans against 3 crafty veterans. A bit of a toss up, so again, it comes down to the Bumgarner dominance vs Games James, and perhaps whether or not Petit starts instead of Vogelsong. Maybe a surprise Tim Lincecum start?
SP/RP – Yusmeiro Petit, SF – the long man in the Giant bullpen, pitched 6 shutout innings in their 18 inning win over the Nationals. He also relieved Vogelsong and held the Cardinals at bay in G4. 2 Wins, 9 IP, 11 Ks, no runs, a 0.67 WHIP and a .071 AVG against. Some say he should be the Giants G4 starter.
RP – Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, Greg Holland, KC – Mr.’s 7, 8, and 9 in the KC bullpen. A combined 25 2/3 IP, 0.90 WHIP, 1.05 ERA, and 30 Ks. The Giants trio of Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt are no slouches either. A combined 17.2 IP, 0.74 WHIP, 0.51 ERA, and 10 Ks.
RP – Brandon Finnegan, KC. Ned Yost forgot he had a lefty in the bullpen on that 2nd Moss HR. Had his moments in the ALDS. He was pitching in the college world series earlier in the year!
RP – Trevor Rosenthal, STL – the Cardinal closer really struggled. Perhaps one reason Matheny went to Wacha in pivotal G5. Zach Britton & Darren O’Day, BAL also struggled, and don’t be calling anyone in the Detroit bullpen. Joba “led” all Tiger RPs with a 108 ERA.