Two weeks ago, the Royals and Giants were not sure if they would even get an opportunity to play more than one game in the 2014 Postseason. Both teams had to battle their way through their respective league’s one-game wildcard. Maybe that was the key to their runs. Maybe playing must-win games bring club’s together. It is hard to argue with the results – 9 straight wins for Kansas City and two convincing series wins for San Fran.
Some analysts are putting a David v. Goliath twist on this series because of the Giants success of the past decade with multiple trips to the Fall Classic. And then there is the Royals who are trekking into the World Series for the first time in three decades. Edge? You would probably lean towards the proven “dynasty” since they have experience. But…
This Kansas City team has made the nation believers. How can you not? 9 straight wins. Not a single blemish so far, production from top to bottom, and a 7th, 8th and 9th Inning combo that is as close to untouchable as it gets. Playoff Baseball does not cater to history, anything can happen as we have seen all postseason. From what we have seen, the Royals are playing the best baseball in the world. And the Giants are playing very, very good baseball too. Let’s check out the match-ups.
Catcher: Posey (SF) is the clear choice here. Arguably the best in the game, a hit machine and calls a good game. Perez (KC) is a top 5 catcher who has scuffled at the plate in the postseason sans the game-winner that got them into the big dance.
1st Base: Hosmer (KC) beat out Belt (SF). Eric Hosmer has been hot since returning from an injury in July and has been even hotter in the postseason. He is a free swinger with huge opposite field power and can drop singles in too. And a Gold Glove in 2013 to boot.
2nd Base: Panik (SF) has more pop in his bat than Infante (KC) but on the biggest stage, this shapes up to be too-close to call when it’s all said and done. Panik’s bat and Infante’s glove even each other out.
Shortstop: Escobar (KC) is a premier defensive SS (See a trend here with a Royals and defense?). He had some timely hits in ALCS and swiped 30 bags in the regular season. Crawford (SF) is a major league starter, a gritty player but not Escobar’s caliber.
3rd Base: Sandoval (SF) is a proven postseason performer. He has the glove, the clutch hits and the experience. Don’t overlook “Moose” from the AL squad. Moustakas (KC) has 4 long balls in 8 games and has been a key contributor from the 9-hole.
Outfield: Impossible to pick against a unit who has made zero mistakes and caught essentially everything so the Royals OF has the upper hand, or glove rather. Lorenzo Cain (KC) is showcasing his unique skill set. He is a true 5-tool player. Hunter Pence will have his moments but Gordon, Cain, Aoki is as good as it gets now.
Bench: Kansas City. When you pinch run two different guys with olympic speed, you have the edge. Stealing bases in in KC’s DNA and with Gore and Dyson, pitchers will not be comfortable in the late innings.
Starting Pitching: San Francisco, barely. Bumgarner is better than Shields, so there is +2. Ventura-Hudson? Depends which version you get. Vogelsong-Vargas? Probably Vogelsong… Probably? It’s close, but the best pitcher in the series wears black and orange so there is the edge.
Bullpen: Kansas City. Next topic. Royals’ bullpen has been as close to perfect as it gets. 97mph+ by all 3 guys, command, poise. If the Royals take a lead into the 7th, go ahead and chalk it up a Blue win. Casilla (SF) shows some signs of fatigue in Game 5, could hurt his confidence moving forward.
Manager: Bruce Bochy (SF) is a future Hall of Famer. He seems to always know who is the right guy at the right time. Proven postseason record and calm under pressure. Ned Yost (KC) had one foot out the door in the play-in game until the unthinkable happened and now he is a genius. He called for Dyson to steal third. That took some major guts, Ned knows his guys and used his bullpen well, too.
Prediction: Royals in 6. Something special is brewing in Kansas City. It’s not just a feel good story, this team is the best team in MLB. Make no mistake, these kids know how to win and will finish what they have started.
MVP: Alex Gordon