Beginning at 7:07pm CT tonight, the Kansas City Royals will host the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the 2014 World Series. This will mark the first time in World Series history that neither representative finished the regular season with at least 90 wins. But don’t let that discourage you. If both team’s recent runs through the playoffs are an indication, baseball fans are in for a highly-competitive series with solid defense, great pitching, and timely hitting.
How was that for a hard sell? Did I get you excited? You cancelled your dinner plans and you’re going to stay in and watch baseball instead? That pleases me. Here’s what you’re in for:
A lot has been made about how the Giants have not represented the National League in the World Series since all the way back in 2012. Plenty has changed since then; in 2012 people were still walking around with iPhone 5’s, Barack Obama was our President, and milk prices were only $3.50 per gallon, down from today’s $3.54. But the Giants are confident they won’t let a rise in milk prices get in the way of their championship aspirations. They send Madison Bumgarner to the mound to start Game 1. This will be his 5th playoff start this year and he’s been nothing short of dominating so far. In Games 2 and 3, the Giants will turn to veterans Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson, who both have playoff experience, although this will be Hudson’s first appearance in a World Series. Some baseball commentators like to point out things like that, but I’m not sure it means anything.
Offensively, they rely once again on perennial MVP candidate Buster Posey, who put up another MVP-like year with 5.7 fWAR. Pablo Sandoval (.279/.324/.415) had another nice season, as did Hunter Pence (.277/.332/.445) and Michael Morse (.279/.336/.475). But honestly, aside from Posey, there’s really nothing in this lineup that’s worth getting excited for. They’re a solid team that pitches well and plays good defense (as long as Morse can DH). So far in the 2014 playoffs, that’s been as good a recipe as any to win games.
I may have mentioned once or twice how I’ve hopped on the Royals bandwagon and my reasons for doing so, so I won’t rehash them here. But I do want to be clear that this is not an actual physical bandwagon that I have hopped on. I was merely speaking metaphorically, meaning I am outwardly rooting for them to do well despite not having any previous attachment to the team prior to this year. They’ve been successful in similar ways as the Giants through solid starting pitching, a dominating bullpen, outstanding defense, and an offense that, well, exists. This has allowed them to win their first 8 playoff games this year, the first time in history a team has done that. James Shields will start Game 1, but the real story for the Royals pitching staff so far in the playoffs has been their 3 bullpen guys, Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland. Each of those 3 guys usually just pitches 1 inning, but they’ve been dominant in that 1 inning and if the Royals take a lead into the 7th, it’s a good bet they’re leaving there with a win. But don’t take MY word for it. See what a random Royals fan has to say about it.
“Yeah, they’ve been dominant in their 1 inning. If the Royals take a lead into the 7th, it’s a good bet they’re leaving there with a win.”
At this point, most publications usually end their preview post with a prediction on which team is going to win the World Series. But since individual baseball games are at the mercy of small sample randomness and these two teams are pretty equal talent-wise as it is, I’ll leave you with this. The team that scores more runs each game will have a distinct advantage.
The first to 4 wins will be our champion.