WARR baseball writer Kevin Luchansky writes about Chicago baseball. Check out Kevin’s daily baseball betting picks on NorthSideWire.
The Fall Classic is finally upon us!
In a match-up that pits two very different Wild Card teams, I get the sense that a lot of the public sees this as a “David vs. Goliath” contest. The San Francisco Giants are coming off their third National League pennant in five years, whereas the Royals are in their first World Series appearance since winning it back in 1985.
This series is the emerging dynasty versus the small-ball extraordinaires. Sure, the favorite Giants might have the post-season experience to back their efforts, but the never-quit Royals also haven’t lost a game since the regular season.
So, how do they matchup?
From an earned run average standpoint, starters for both the Giants (3.74) and Royals (3.60) were pretty middle-of-the-pack, ranking 16th and 11th overall in the MLB in that category, respectively. They both also did a fairly great job of eating up innings, allowing their relievers as much rest and prep time as possible. Neither side really had any deafening or mind-blowing statistics that would lead someone like myself to believe that one has a sizable advantage over the other, either.
That said, however, I would have to give the Giants an edge here for two main reasons. The first of which is Madison Bumgarner, who is both dominant and a workhorse. His body frame is built for the long season, and his velocity has been solid throughout the playoffs.
I definitely like the team that has an opportunity to had it over to MadBum twice in a potential seven game set. The second reason is that when they lost starting pitchers to injuries or just decreased performance, they didn’t hope for change, they went out and made it, acquiring starter Jake Peavy from the Red Sox just before the trade deadline. In hindsight, it may have been the best trade deadline move of any team.
The fairly obvious decided advantage here goes to Kansas City. Throughout the season and especially in the playoffs, their trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland have been absolutely lights out. Their season WAR total was best in the majors at 5.9, and their 3.30 ERA was good for 10th best among all MLB bullpens.
The Giants, on the other hand, certainly faced their fair sure of bullpen woes. That is not to say, though, that they were no bright spots. In fact, their bullpen earned run average was a stingy 3.01, though their collective WAR was just 0.5, third worst in the bigs.
If we see a lot of low scoring contests, I’d much rather be in Ned Yost’s shoes than Bruce Bochy’s, as the Royals have built out one of the best bullpens in modern day baseball history.
The Giants compiled the sixth highest WAR total for collective starting lineups this season with a 23.7 mark, and the Royals, not particularly known for their offensive prowess, weren’t too far behind in tenth (22.6).
How’d they get it done? For the Giants, it came down to a top-to-bottom disciplined approach, as they ranked top 10 in batting average, on-base percentage, and weighted runs created. They aren’t many weaknesses in that lineup, and they’ve got solid guys off the bench — Michael Morse and Travis Iwikasha for starters — to plug into the pitcher’s spot when necessary.
As for the Royals, it’s no secret they were able to manufacture runs by putting the ball in play often, using their speed to steal and advance extra bases, and connecting on most pitches in the strike zone.
In fact, the Royals connected on 89.8% of the balls they swung on that were considered in the strike zone. They were aggressive though, too, tying the Yankees for best contact percentage on pitches outside of the zone, hitting 71.2%.
Collectively, though, I like the Giants group a little better from top to bottom. On top of that, I think San Francisco’s stronger pitching combined with Buster Posey’s arm behind the dish could limit some of the Royals strategy that has worked for them all year.
Who takes the crown?
This is really tough one, but I think that is implied. After all, no one predicted these teams to be the two last standing, so it’s a little tough to predict how they might fare against each other. My baseball wired brain says the Giants take this thing and my heart says this is the Royals year. Still…
Prediction: Giants in 6
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