2014 World Series
Giants in 5
In a baseball season where parity was the rule it seems appropriate that two Wild Card teams play in the World Series. There were no 100 game winners and no 100 game losers, and the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals each did not win 90 games. While the regular season record might try to tarnish this matchup, the fact is that the two teams that are playing the best baseball in October made it to the Fall Classic. ESPN has called this the worst World Series ever, because there are no big name pitchers and no super sluggers. It is sad that they hold that view, because this is a World Series for a baseball purist. These are two fundamentally sound teams that play small ball, they both have solid pitching and up the middle defense, and they could piece together innings with productive outs. You know like baseball was meant to be played before the egg headed sabermatricians and home run junkies hijacked the sport. So to the unvarnished baseball fan this may be a boring match up it may be the worst series ever, but to the traditional baseball fan who appreciates crisply played 3-2 games. To the fans that like team ball this is going to be a World Series of no superlatives just baseball and I say play ball.
What else can you say about the Royals, as Kansas City native Casey Stengel said about a Mets team some 45 years ago, they are amazing, amazing, amazing. This has been quite a special run, from down 7-3 in the eighth inning of the Wild Card Game against the Oakland Athletics to the World Series. The Royals have yet to lose in the postseason, sweeping the Los Angeles Angels in the ALDS and the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS. Along the way the Royals have won a record four games in extra innings. The Royals have won games in every way possible, late inning homers and pure pitching with an outfield defense that has made some of the best hitters in the American League shake their heads in frustration as Lorenzo Cain, Jarrod Dyson and Nori Aoki seems to cover the grand expanses of the universe to run down fly balls. The only thing more disheartening for opposing teams has been the Royals bullpen which has been nearly untouchable in the playoffs. Kelvin Herrera has allowed just one run in seven appearances, while Wade Davis and Greg Holland each have allowed one run in eight appearances. Holland has six saves in the Royals eight playoff wins. The three have combined to shorten games and allowed the Royals to rally whenever they have fallen behind. The bullpen could be the biggest edge Kansas City has other than their team speed, which neither the A’s, Halos nor O’s were able to control.
The San Francisco Giants have been there and done that, winners of the World Series in 2010 and 2012, they hope they can keep the streak of even seasons continuing. Oddly in the two seasons the Giants failed to win the World Series they have had poor regular seasons and not even been in the race in September. When they make the playoffs they win, they have yet to lose a postseason series under Manager Bruce Bochy. They have won series easily and they have come from behind to win series. In 2012 they rallied from down 2-0 to beat the Cincinnati Reds and down 3-1 to beat the St. Louis Cardinals, before sweeping the Detroit Tigers in the Fall Classic. Experience is the Giants biggest advantage. They also have an edge in starting pitching as Madison Bumgarner clearly is the best pitcher on either side. However, what can be the big key is their ability to score in a million ways much like the Royals. The Giants have more power than the Royals, but they hardly need the long ball to score. They have a lineup that is packed with clutch hitters who seem to raise their game in the Fall. Players like Pablo Sandoval who single handily wrecked Tigers pitching in the Fall Classic two years ago and Buster Posey who seems to deliver in every RBI situation in the postseason.
The Royals will have the home field advantage in the World Series, and must win the first two games if they are to have a chance to win the World Series. The Royals did sweep the Giants in an interleague series at Kaufman Stadium in August. The Giants can take advantage of even the smallest mistake and will smash down the door if even given a crack of an opening. In the series against the Angels and Orioles the Royals were able to capitalize on the frustration of their pesky style of play. The Giants are just as pesky and they are able to adjust and transform to win any way possible. It’s a type of experience that only comes from winning, and posting an 8-1 record in two World Series appearances. Madison Bumgarner throwing in Game 1 will take the home field away. The Royals will scratch a win in Game 2, but as the series goes to AT&T Stadium, the Royals will sink in the Bay. The Giants will get the clutch hits and their bullpen is solid in its own right with Yusmeiro Petit being able to go multiple innings if needed, while Santiago Casilla has been solid at finishing games. Madison Bumgarner will earn two wins in the Fall Classic and join elite company by winning the LCS MVP and World Series MVP in the same postseason.