After what has seemed like a regular season that lasted 284 calendar years and playoff series that lasted about a long as an episode of your nightly news, it is finally time for the 2014 MLB World Series.
Oh, and it only seemed like the season lasted that long because I am a diehard Phillies fan and our team was horrible again. There will be a Phillies season in review blog post later in the week. If I liked a team that was any good, the season wouldn’t have felt like it took so long!
The World Series will feature the Kansas City Royals (89-73) hosting the San Francisco Giants (88-74).
The Royals were in the playoffs this year for the first time since 1985- a span of 29 MLB seasons.
The San Francisco Giants have two World Series Championships in the last four years- 2010 and 2012. Ever since the Philadelphia Phillies represented the NL in its 2009 World Series loss in six games to the New York Yankees, it has either been the Giants or the Cardinals representing the NL in the World Series.
Those two championships are the only two the Giants have won since moving to San Francisco from New York years ago.
They have lost in the World Series as the Giants on three different occasions; in 1962 to the New York Yankees, in 1989 to the Oakland Athletics and in 2002 to the Anaheim Angels.
The last time the Royals made the playoff, in 1985, was also the same year the Royals have won its only World Series title, beating the cross-state rival St. Louis Cardinals. They have lost in the World Series just once as well, losing to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1980.
The Royals have won eight straight games to get to the World Series, first sweeping the Tigers and then sweeping the Orioles. They have been great so far. Not known to be a power-hitting team, they have become a power hitting team in the postseason, hitting 8 home runs in those 8 games. They also have 13 stolen bases in 16 attempts in this playoff year. As a team, they are hitting .259, have a .331 on base percentage and a .390 slugging percentage.
The Royals have not really pitched well. Their ace, James Shields has a 5.63 ERA in his three starts. Jason Vargas is a 2.38 but has only pitched 11 1/3 innings in two starts and has a WHIP of 0.79.
The Giants are 8-2 in this year’s playoffs, beating both the Nationals and the Cardinals 4-games-to-1. They usually have a good hitting team, but they aren’t hitting great in the playoffs. They are hitting .244 as a team, have a .314 on-base percentage, and a .324 slugging percentage, only hitting 5 homers in their ten playoff games.
The Giants are winning because of their pitching. As a team, they have a playoff ERA of only 2.18 in their ten games with a Walks + Hits Per Inning Pitched (WHIP) of 0.95, only giving up 68 his in 90+ innings. Madison Bumgarner has been nearly unhittable, with a 1.42 ERA and a WHIP of only 0.76. Veteran Jake Peavy also has been very good, going 1-0 with a 1.86 in two starts. Tim Hudson is a 3.29 in two starts, but does not have a decision.
How the Giants Will Win:
To win this series, the pitchers will need to continue avoiding walks. The Royals turn walks or singles into a double in a pitch or two, so limiting the walks will keep he Royals from scoring. No matter how much speed the Royals have, they cant score if they aren’t on base. They need to continue playing roles- with each and every player doing exactly what their job is. Knowing their roles, and gladly accepting them, and sticking to them, is the reason the Giants have two World Series in the last four MLB seasons- in 2010 ad 2012. Only the St. Louis Cardinals can match the Giants in role players playing their roles, but the Cardinals got beaten by San Francisco for different reasons this year. Also, the Giants have to get a win early in the series, at least one in Kansas City. The Royals are 8-0 and in not losing, they don’t know what it is like to have to regroup as a team after a loss. Doing so, especially early, may just put enough doubt in their minds to put them back on their heels.
How the Royals Will Win:
I really believe this Royals team is a team of destiny. The baseball gods are clearly looking down on them and giving them some help. They have come back in games, gone extra innings and have kicked, scraped, and dug for every inch of those eight wins. Teams with no power are not supposed to win in the World Series. Even with bad starting pitching so far, the Royals have won, but Shields and company have to pitch better. They are great defensively and they have tons of speed. They need to continue doing exactly as they have- get on base and run, run, run. They need to continue believing in each other and trust that the guy next to them in the dugout will pick them up if they fail. This team believes in everyone in its roster.
Who Will Win:
The only way the Giants will win this series is if they win the first two games in Kansas City, which will let out the gas of the dream machine. If they don’t, the Royals will win this series. The only way to beat a team full of great role players doing their jobs perfectly is a team of destiny; a team that refuses to believe any team can beat them four times in seven games. Somewhere between the first of October, and their eighth straight win, the Royals finally found out exactly who they were and what timing they had. The Royals will win this series in seven games.