Caption: Oct. 14, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) hits a single against the Baltimore Orioles during the fourth inning in game three of the 2014 ALCS playoff baseball game at Kauffman Stadium. John Rieger/USA TODAY Sports
Major League Baseball probably is not happy with the World Series matchup as neither the Kansas City Royals nor San Francisco Giants have truly marketable stars, which could affect television ratings, but true baseball fans have to be ecstatic about the matchup.
The Giants are making their third World Series appearance in five years and are finally being recognized as a potential dynasty, which is a distinction that is beyond deserving. The Giants have relied on their elite starting rotation and timely offense for years now and that is exactly what has got them to this point once again.
The Royals are on the complete opposite side of the spectrum, however. This year marked the Royals’ first postseason appearance since 1985 when they won the World Series in seven games against the St.
The Royals have been a budding team for the past few seasons, but never had the pitching to get them into the postseason, which forced the front office into action in the past two offseasons. The biggest acquisition came in December 2012 when they traded top prospect Wil Myers for James Shields, a proven veteran who has become the ace of the staff.
This past offseason, Kansas City made another pivotal addition to their rotation when they signed Jason Vargas who has proven to be a reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter. The pitching acquisitions, along with young position players that make up one of the fastest teams in all of baseball and excellent defense, allowed the Royals to make it to the ALCS, as opposed to division rival Detroit.
Both teams have excelled with pitching, defense and late-inning heroics, which sets the stage for an exciting and memorable fall classic. Even though both teams lack star power outside of Giants’ catcher Buster Posey, there have been several players on both sides who have played like stars.
Royals’ centerfielder Lorenzo Cain has burst onto the scene in the postseason and is playing like a superstar. Cain covers a ton of ground in the outfield and is a huge asset defensively as he routinely makes incredible catches and limits extra bases with the best of them. However, his bat has been one of the most surprising revelations
Cain batted .533 in the ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles as the Royals’ 3-hole hitter and was named the MVP of the ALCS. But the Royals last hitter in their lineup has provided the most fireworks of all: Mike Moustakas.
Moustakas has hit four homeruns this postseason, leading a team that ranked dead last in homeruns during the regular season. It has not been just the homeruns that have been impressive; it has been his ability to hit for power in
In the ALDS opener against the Los Angeles Angels, he hit a solo shot in the 11th inning that proved to be the game-winner. In the ALCS opener, he hit a two-run shot to extend the Royals’ lead to 8-5 in the 10th inning. But his late-inning power prowess is rivaled by that of none other than the Giants.
In game three of the NLCS, the Giants were tied 4-4 against the Cardinals with runners on first and second in the bottom of the 10th inning. The Giants needed heroics and got them with a sacrifice bunt from Gregor Blanco; Cardinals’ relief pitcher Randy Choate fielded the ball and threw the ball away as he had to rush his throw to try to get the speedy Blanco out. Brandon Crawford was able to score the winning run on the errant throw.
In game five, the Giants needed more heroics as they were tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the ninth. They managed to get runners on first and second with one out before Travis Ishikawa stepped to the plate. Ishikawa had been more a platoon player all year long before being thrust into the lineup heading into the postseason, but that did not matter. Up in the count 2-0, he turned on a low and inside fastball and just got enough of it to send it into the stands in right field for a walk-off
With both teams possessing stellar defense and timely hitting, this series is going to come down to which pitching staff can execute better. This is where the Giants have the edge over the Royals despite the investments Kansas City has made in their
While neither team has announced their starters past game two, it is likely that both teams will use a four-man rotation in the seven-game series. The Giants will likely roll with NLCS MVP Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong and Jake Peavy, while the Royals will roll with James Shields, Yordano Ventura, Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie.
It is hard to look at any of these matchups and think that the Royals have the upper hand. The Giants’ arms have been much more consistent and far more experienced in the postseason. If either team gets in an early hole, their managers may pitch their respective aces, Bumgarner and Shields, on short rest and switch to a three-man rotation. Either way, the Giants’ pitching staff gives them the advantage.
This series certainly has the potential to be a classic as both teams have had to scratch and claw their way to make it this far. But look for the Giants’ starting rotation to be the biggest reason they win the series 4-2 and claim their third World Series in