World Series Preview

By Nate Discavage @DiscavageSavage

 

Nobody predicted that the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants would make this year’s World Series (let alone make the playoffs), but that’s the beauty of baseball.  After 162 regular season games and three playoff series, it all comes down to four more wins.

The Giants won their third National League pennant in the last five years and are loaded with playoff experience.  The Royals, on the other hand, have not made the playoffs since 1985.  The Giants return playoff veterans Madison Bumgardner, Buster Posey, and Pablo Sandoval.  The Royals are trying to brush off comparisons to the 2007 Colorado Rockies (sweep through the playoffs before getting swept in the World Series).

Here’s a position-by-position breakdown comparing the two squads:

Catcher:

While the Royals’ Salvador Perez came through with the game-winning hit in the Wild Card Game against Oakland, he has done little to help the team throughout the rest the of postseason.  2012 NL MVP Buster Posey has led the Giants from behind the plate and looks to win his third World Series Ring.

Advantage: San Francisco

1st Base:

Brandon Belt has resurrected his career with the Giants after teetering on the brink of being a draft-day bust.  Despite spending some time on the disabled list during the season, he has performed well for San Francisco this year.  Eric Hosmer had a bounce back year for the Royals after a disappointing 2013 season.  He has been one of the sparkplugs in Kansas City’s rejuvenated offense this postseason.

Advantage: Kansas City

2nd Base:

Omar Infante has played for four teams in his 11 year career but has provided veteran leadership for the young Kansas City squad.  Although he may not have the best offensive statistics in the league, his strong defense and advice for younger players has led the team to where they are now.  Giants’ rookie Joe Panik was not even born the last time Kansas City made the playoffs.  He had a great season with San Francisco the second half of the season and has come through in the clutch when needed to.

Advantage: Kansas City

3rd Base:

San Francisco third baseman Pablo Sandoval won the World Series MVP in 2012.  He has the experience needed to lead a team and will sign a huge contract this offseason as one of the league’s best available free agents.  Mike Moustakas has been clutch in the playoffs hitting four homeruns in the eight games but barely hit his own weight in the regular season (.212 AVG).

Advantage:  San Francisco

Shortstop:

Brandon Crawford has been the definition of an average MLB player since his career began in 2011.  While he is not a superstar, he will be remembered in San Francisco for his great defensive play and long hair.  The Royals’ Alcides Escobar definitely has one of the league’s most unique names.  He has speed which has helped Kansas City throughout the playoffs, but has hit an empty .278 though the playoffs without much to show for it.

Advantage: Even

Left Field:

Five days before the regular season ended, Giants’ Travis Ishikawa had never played a game of left field in his career.  He wrote his name in San Francisco history, however, with a walk-off homerun to send the Giants to the World Series.  Kansas City’s Alex Gordon has become a nationally recognized star this season.  He has wowed MLB with his great defensive ability along with his amazing offensive performance.  Gordon has solidified himself as a leader on the Kansas City team for years to come.

Advantage: Kansas City

Centerfield:

Gregor Blanco was brought on to replace injured Giants’ centerfielder Angel Pagan late in the season.  He has superb range in the outfield and has excelled as Pagan’s backup.  Lorenzo Cain is the reason the Royals are still in the playoffs with a key double and stolen base in the Wild Card game against the A’s.  Cain is just as good defensively and definitely faster.

Advantage:  Kansas City

Right Field:

All-Star Hunter Pence has already won his first ring with the Giants in 2012 after being acquired halfway through the season from Philadelphia.  Since joining San Francisco, he has hit 78 homeruns in the three-and-a-half years he’s been there.  Nori Aoki has come up big for the Royals in the playoffs; however, he cannot match the talent of Pence.

Advantage: San Francisco

Designated Hitter:

For Kansas City home games, the Designated Hitter rule will be in effect allowing longtime Royals DH Billy Butler to contribute for his team.  While his offensive contribution has dropped slightly in recent years, he seems just like his young self in the playoffs this year.  San Francisco will go with Michael Morse as a DH in the World Series.  Morse hit the game-tying homerun to set up Ishikawa’s game-winning in the NLCS but is still recovering from an injury sustained earlier in the season.

Advantage: Kansas City

Starting Rotation:

While the Royals have their ace James Shields leading them in game one, they will have a hard time matching up with the potent San Francisco rotation.  Madison Bumgardner, Jake Peavy, Tim Hudson, and Ryan Vogelsong look to shut down the streaky Royals’ offense in the Fall Classic.

Advantage:  San Francisco

Bullpen:

The Giants have a solid bullpen with relievers Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, and Santiago Castilla.  The Royals, however, are loaded with the “Three-Headed Monster” of Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, and Greg Holland.  Brandon Finnegan has been solid out of the pen for Kansas City.

Advantage: Kansas City

Final Prediction:  Giants win four games to two over Kansas City

Tune in tonight at 8PM for first pitch tonight on FOX for Game 1 in Kansas City.

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