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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Let’s Talk Sports: World Series

John Sleezer
Photo by: John Sleezer

At most there are only seven more baseball games left this season baseball fans. Enjoy it. Soak it up. And for my fellow Mariner fans, I join you in saying “maybe next year.”

If you didn’t know, the Kansas City Royals will represent the American League and the New York Mets will play for the National League. This matchup has set up a nice battle between one team’s strengths vs. another team’s strengths. In the end though, it could come down to who does the things that each team isn’t known for better than the other.

League Championship - Toronto Blue Jays v Kansas City Royals - Game Six
Photo by: Jamie Squire

The case for the Royals
Kansas City came out of nowhere last year when they made it to the World Series. Making it to the series two years in a row changes that a bit and arguably makes them the favorite. We know their mashers now in Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon. But the Royals made some nice additions with Kendrys Morales, Ben Zobrist and Alex Rios in the lineup, as well as Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez in the rotation.

Photo by: Matt Slocum

The key to the Royals’ success in their 95 win, and now World Series bound, season is their refusal to strikeout. The Royals have the lowest percentage of strikeouts in the majors and that’ll help against New York’s pitching staff and the heat that they bring. Speaking of the heat, these Royals hitters eat fastballs for breakfast. I’m not going to go into the advanced stats behind it but the Royals are well above league averages when hitting against pitches upwards of 94 miles per hour. The league knows it too, throwing them the fourth least amount of fastballs over the course of the regular season.

That’s their hitting, I haven’t even talked about their stellar defense and its ability to take away runs and bases– nor the lockdown bullpen. Both of those facets of their team are simply better than the Mets’, and if their bats are able to chase one of New York’s starters they’ll be able to expose an average bullpen.

Basically the Royals have been here and done that and they won’t beatthemselves. You can make the case against them that they haven’t dominated the postseason and could be at home watching right now if the Astros hadn’t choked. But couldn’t that be an example of why you should side with them? It’s an example of the Royals finding ways to win, which is a way that great teams separate themselves from the good ones. Only time will tell if that will continue and if they truly are great.

The case for the Mets

Photo from Getty Images

Two things have allowed the Mets to reach the World Series: power pitching and power hitting. The Mets would not be here without their 4 starters (Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz) who all throw upwards of 94 miles per hour consistently.

With all due respect to the starters of Kansas City, the comparison of the two rotations is the clearest mismatch between the two teams. The velocity of these guys is simply historic, and in October when temperatures go down power pitching tends to beat power hitting. Manager Terry Collins has used these guys late into games in the postseason in order to mask his bullpen. That trend will need to continue in order for the Mets to take the series.

As for their offense, they went from being one of the worst offensive teams in the National League to being one of the better ones as the season went on. That’s because of additions like Yoenis Cespedes, David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto to the team in the second half of the season. Those guys ended up leading the Mets to tops in the National League in runs scored and home runs hit in the second half. It’s no doubt that the Mets have been hot and enjoyed some Blue Jays’ type success and buzz as the season started to near its end.

No man on the face of the planet is hotter than Daniel Murphy is right now. It’s going to be a tall task for the four starting pitchers of the Royals to pitch against the left handed hitting Murphy.

Alex Brandon
Photo by: Alex Brandon

The Mets probably have a more shaky bullpen than the Royals but they keep their identity of their starters at the end. That comes in the form of closer Jeurys Familia who has allowed just two hits in nearly 10 innings of postseason work. If the Mets hold a lead late in the game, it’s going to be tough for Kansas City to get to Famillia.

With everything said, it’s obvious that if the Mets win the World Series it will go through their starting pitching. But here’s another idea and case for the Mets. The postseason hasn’t been overly kind to some of the cornerstones I mentioned previously– Wright and Cespedes for example. It’s been argued that Murphy might not be able sustain his production, but what if they get the production from Wright and Cespedes (or even Lucas Duda) that they haven’t had this postseason? It could mean their first championship since 1986.

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