2014 World Series Preview

The 2014 playoffs have been some of the most exciting postseason series’ that I can ever remember, which is amazing since the end results have been so lopsided (we’ve had 3 sweeps and 3 other series where the losing team only won a single game). After all that, the World Series begins tonight, featuring the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals. It’s the first time that two teams who won less than 90 games in the regular season have met in the World Series (at least I think that’s the case). Additionally, since both teams got here via the wild card game, we’ll have our first World Series wild card winner in the new 2-team wild card format. This postseason has already been one of the best ever, but hopefully the best series is yet to come. Here’s a preview of the 2014 World Series.

Starting Pitching

Starters

EDGE: San Francisco. The Giants have the best starting pitcher of either team in this series with Madison Bumgarner. Tim Hudson and Jake Peavy have performed well in the playoffs as well, and although Ryan Vogelsong got a bit roughed up in his start against the Cardinals, he has a career postseason ERA of 2.16. On the other side, James Shields (easily the Royals best starting pitcher) has been the worst of the group. Baseball is weird like that sometimes. However, Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie have pitched well in their playoff starts, but I wouldn’t put money on a repeat performance. Because of this, if Kansas City is going to have any chance at winning the World Series, they’ll most likely need to beat Bumgarner at least once, in addition to getting one more strong outing from either Vargas or Guthrie at a minimum.

Bullpens

Top 3 relievers for each team (by fWAR).

Relievers

EDGE: Kansas City. Of course they have the edge in the bullpen. They’ve been outstanding. They have a 1.80 ERA in the playoffs, and the trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland have been so good, that not only did they basically shut down the Orioles offense during the ALCS, but if you were watching the game, they gave viewers the feeling that Baltimore had no shot in putting together any sort of comeback. In the Giants defense, their bullpen has pitched just as effectively in the playoffs (in terms of run prevention), but they haven’t looked as dominant and don’t have the regular season numbers to back up their postseason performance.

The managerial mismatch of Buck Showalter and Ned Yost didn’t come into play much in the ALCS (something I briefly discussed last week at Camden Depot), but the Giants Bruce Bochy is just as good as Showalter (if not better) when it comes to in game match-ups, so it will be interesting to see how often the teams put themselves in a position where the managers have the opportunity to help or hurt their chances.

Offense

Offense

EDGE: San Francisco. This is the one big advantage in the series for the Giants and they will need to make sure that they exploit it if they want to win the series. This means putting runs on the board early and making Kansas City use its bullpen while behind, especially during the 2-3 games that Jason Vargas and/or Jeremy Guthrie will be starting.

Baserunning

Baserunning

EDGE: Kansas City. The Royals didn’t add much to their stolen base totals during the ALCS, as the Orioles plans to disrupt their running game proved to be fairly effective. It will be interesting to see if the Giants take a similar approach or come up with something else in order to slow down the speedy Kansas City baserunners.

Defense

Defense

EDGE: Kansas City. The Royals have plus defenders all over the field, not to mention a defensive replacement in Jarrod Dyson that displaces Nori Aoki in the late innings, and he’s a good defender on his own. The Giants aren’t a bad defensive team (they rated out as average to slightly below average), but the Royals defense has put on a show this postseason. It will be fun to see the Kansas City outfield patrol the vast open space at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

Verdict

I, like everyone else living outside of the city of San Francisco, will be rooting for the Royals in this series. However, after winning the World Series in 2010 and 2012 (while not making the playoffs in 2011 and 2013), the Giants have some crazy “even year bullshit” going on that cannot be underestimated. Look at this, it’s a real thing!

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 9.53.35 PM

They also have better starting pitching and a stronger offense than the Royals. I think (and hope) that this series will be close, but if the Giants can get into the Kansas City bullpen with a lead, they’ll win the World Series for the 3rd time in 5 years. I believe that their clear advantages in starting pitching and hitting will allow them to do that more times than not. It won’t be easy though, as I think they’ll need 7 games to do it.

With that, I hope everyone has enjoyed the 2014 baseball playoffs as much as I have. Go Royals.

*DEFINITIONS: FIPwRC+UBRwSBDRSUZR/150

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