Here we go, the grind is over and two teams have navigated their ways to the World Series. The Kansas City Royals have not been here in a very long time. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants are right on their even year track. The Royals are setting records on their way to eight straight post-season wins. Meanwhile, the Giants finished off the Cardinals in dramatic fashion.
Let’s take a look at the schedule as well as a comparison of the two teams from key areas. After that, we should be able to formulate a logical winner of the 2014 World Series. While one team might be listed with an edge, it could be very close. Current form is a clear weighting factor when determining the advantages. Let’s get to it.
The Royals can expect to send out the combination of James Shields, Yordano Ventura, Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie against the Giants in the World Series. In the ALDS, the Royals managed a team ERA of 1.74 and an impressive .87 WHIP. They allowed a combined six total runs in the series against the Angels. Ventura pitched a strong seven innings in his lone start with only one run allowed.
In the ALCS, Shields and Ventura both had subpar outings where they pitched a combined 10 2/3 innings and allowed eight earned runs. That clearly has to improve. Meanwhile, Guthrie and Vargas pitched a combined 10 1/3 innings and allowed only two runs. You can expect better from Shields in his World Series start.
The Giants will be trotting out a four-man rotation that consists of Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy. San Francisco’s four starters gave up a combined four earned runs in 25 2/3 innings of NLDS work while Bumgarner had given up two earned runs in 16 innings including the Wildcard game. Vogelsong left his poor 5.53 ERA September behind him where he allowed one run in the NLDS.
In the NLCS, Bumgarner continued his impressive display with 15 2/3 innings pitched with only three runs allowed. Hudson and Peavy pitched a combined 10 1/3 innings in which they allowed six earned. Meanwhile, Vogelsong only lasted three innings. It was clearly the Bungarner show and that will have to continue.
Edge: San Francisco
The Royals bullpen is no slouch with the fifth lowest AL ERA in 2014 at 3.30. Teams needed the lead before the seventh inning if they hoped to avoid the buzz saw that is Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland. Holland saved 46 of 48 possible games during the regular season which is nothing to shake a stick at.
This bullpen also allowed just one miniscule run in the ALDS against the Angels. With the starters not going deep into games, the bullpen rose to the occasion again in the ALCS where they totaled 16 innings of work and allowed two runs, both in game one. The Royals bullpen is riding a post-season 11 inning scoreless streak.
During the regular season, the Giants bullpen carried a 3.01 ERA which was good for third in the National League. That bullpen is one of the pitching keys to the Giants success. In August and September, Sergio Romo has allowed two runs in 16 innings of work. Meanwhile, Castilla has allowed six runs in 17 2/3 innings over the same time with only one allowed in September. Hunter Strickland made an immediate impact after a September call up.
In 19 1/3 NLDS innings, the bullpen has allowed four total runs. In the NLCS the bullpen was called on to pitch 16 innings and only allowed three runs, all in a game two loss to St. Louis. The Giants bullpen is riding a 10 2/3 inning scoreless streak.
Edge: Kansas City
The Royals are a team with speed sprinkled throughout the lineup. Five players stole double-digit bags in 2014 including Jarrod Dyson who stole 36 bases, Alcides Escobar who stole 31, and Lorenzo Cain who stole 28 during the regular season. In the regular season, the Royals displayed decent power in Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas.
The Royals stole a combined 13 bases in the Wildcard, ALDS, and ALCS. While it should be noted that they stole an insane seven in the Wildcard game. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas each hit two home runs in the ALDS which bodes well for the team. The power streak continued as the Royals hit four more home runs in the ALCS for a total of eight this post-season. This team scored 42 runs so far this post-season. This is a team that can and will bunt if required to move the runners as evident in the Wildcard game.
The Giants are known for pitching but their lineup scored 665 runs in the regular season, good for fifth in the National League. They were also fourth in team batting average (.255) and second in triples (42). In the NLDS, the Giants bats scored nine total runs in their series with the Nationals with a .278 slugging percentage in the series.
In the NLCS, their bats came alive where they scored 24 runs against the Cardinals. They hit three home runs, all in the series clinching game five. As hot as Buster Posey was in the NLDS, he was that cold in the NLCS. Luckily for the Giants, Pedro Sandoval really powered up with a .400 average and a couple of runs scored.
Edge: Kansas City
Prediction: Royals in Six Games
This is another tough one to pick. The American League has home field so that means the Royals get the benefit of starting the series at home (don’t get me started on the home field via the All-Star game angle). You can sit here and base the series solely on regular season stats or the complete post-season. Heck you could even provide a lot of leverage to the League Championship Series. The answer lies somewhere in between.
On one hand, you have a Giants team that won the Wildcard game then took three-of-four from the Washington Nationals before winning four-of-five from the St. Louis Cardinals. On the other hand, you have a Kansas City Royals team that has not lost a game this post-season. Yep, they are a perfect 8-0.
Then you have a Giants team that is on some type of even year roll winning the World Series in 2010, 2012 and have returned again in 2014. Yet, the Royals have someone looking out for them, just look back at how they managed to win the Wildcard game for proof.
The Giants are depending on the arm of Madison Bumgarner. Let’s face it, yes they have veteran pitching but it is the lights out pitching of Bumgarner that got them this far. They go as far as he goes. Meanwhile, the Royals have spread the love across the staff and do not need one guy to get the job done. Can Bumgarner continue to pitch at such a high level? It is hard to say but he is due at least some form of a dud. I gave the edge, although slight, to the Giants rotation because of the run Bumgarner is currently pitching through.
The Royals have scored one more run than the Giants this post-season but have played two less games. There are no signs to point to that changing. They have continued to show up night in and night out regardless of who is on the opposing mound.
Both teams are deserving challengers for a World Series title. When you look at the total packages you are destined for good baseball. It might not be a ratings explosion but you should get a solid series. In the end , I think Bumgarner has one off start and that is enough for the Kansas City Royals to win the 2014 World Series in six games. I love the post-season and I love this game!