We’re nearing the finish line of the 2015 baseball season. The 111th World Series begins tomorrow night at Kauffman Stadium for the second straight year when the defending American League Champion Kansas City Royals square off with the National League Champions, the New York Mets. Quick recap of my LCS predictions: Kansas City put away Toronto in six games as I predicted; just not enough pitching for the Jays to keep pace with a team who was here only one year ago. The Jays have much more firepower and got a valiant effort from Joey Batts in Game 6, but the pitching folded- especially “ace” David Price. If not for Bautista’s two run, game-tying homer in the 8th inning the other night, David Price is a pathetic 0-8 in his postseason career as a starter. Go back and read the previous sentence; that was NOT a typo. Any big market team- the Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Angels- buyer better beware. If you’re interested in a great regular season, only to see a disappearing act in October, then Price is your man (so expect him to be a Dodger). Bottom line, the better team won and the Royals are seeking redemption for falling short in Game 7 last year. I got the NLCS completely, embarrassingly wrong. I went with my heart instead of my head. Earth to Scotty: it’s the CHICAGO CUBS. You know, the team who hasn’t won a Series since Teddy Roosevelt’s second term in office. I’m a huge Back to the Future fan so I got sucked into the hysteria of “the Cubs win the World Series in 2015 in Back to the Future II.” Again, my mistake. One thing that I won’t back down from is that I was not expecting a four game sweep. The Mets came in hot, the Cubs came in hot- I thought that a sweep for either team was highly unlikely. Speaking of which, somebody needs to get the fire hose and spray down Daniel Murphy because that dude is on fire. His six consecutive postseason games with a home run are a new record, and the Royals can only hope that he’s cooled off since the Mets clinched at Wrigley last week. In the playoffs, in any sport, the team who’s hot and on ‘that roll’ usually comes out on top. The Cubs were hot, too, which goes to show how dominant the Mets’ pitching has been. So who do I like? We’ve beaten the analysis to death in my previous prediction pieces. I’ll keep this one short.
New York Mets vs. Kansas City Royals
Although I didn’t say so a few weeks ago, I expected Kansas City to come out of the American League all along. When I looked at the field in the AL for the postseason- the Yankees (too old), the Astros (too young), the Rangers (not enough pitching), and the Blue Jays (ditto)- I did not see a more well rounded team than the Royals. When you couple that with the fact that they went through this last year and know what to expect and know what it takes to be champions, they were the easy, logical choice. As I said earlier, they don’t have the best lineup or the best starting rotation, but they have a little of everything. The Mets had holes in their batting order for most of the season, but with the acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes and Daniel Murphy selling his soul to Satan, the Mets have beaten Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, and Jake Arrieta. You’re not going to beat those guys I just named if you’re not swinging the bats well. The Royals have a sneaky deep lineup and are hitting .350 with runners in scoring position this postseason. They won’t go quietly into the night the way that the Cubs did. The bread and butter for Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard: they all work off of their fastball. Kansas City was second in the AL in putting fastballs in play (behind only Toronto), and the Royals struck out 973 times as a team, the fewest in the American League. New York pitching isn’t going to blow these Royals away. Team speed? KC stole 104 bases this year which was second in the league, no surprise there. What is surprising is that after stealing only 51 bases this year which was dead last in the National League, the Mets have nine steals this October. The one caveat is that much of that came against Lester and Arrieta, who are both abysmal at holding runners on. Sal Perez has a gun and has thrown out 30% or more baserunners the last four seasons, so New York should tread lightly on the bases. The Mets, conversely, were last in the NL in holding runners on, and we all know how much speed the Royals have on the bases. If you don’t believe me, go re-watch the 8th inning of Game 6 when Lorenzo Cain channeled his inner-Enos Slaughter. It won’t surprise me if either team wins, and I expect this series to end in KC- I do NOT see either team winning in four or five games. Both teams have momentum, but I think the Royals have more depth and will outlast the Mets and win their first World Championship in 30 years.
Prediction: Royals in 6.