Oct 23, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
The KC Royals have won the American League pennant in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history. On Tuesday, the Kansas City Royals will open the 2015 World Series in Kauffman Stadium against the New York Mets.
The New York Mets rode strong starting pitching from a trio of young arms in Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, and Noah Syndergaard through the playoffs, with help from shut down closer Jeruys Familia and the unconscious second baseman Daniel Murphy.
Daniel Murphy is on such a hot streak, don’t be surprised to wake up and discover that we’ve all been living in an Inception-style shared dream with Murphy as the dreamer. Murphy has set a playoff record with home runs in six consecutive games, which is still alive going into the World Series opener on Tuesday. Overall, Daniel Murphy slashed through the N.L. playoffs for .421/.436/1.026 with seven home runs in a mere 38 at bats.
Calling Daniel Murphy on fire is an understatement. It’s more like he’s been possessed by the shade of Babe Ruth.
Though the Mets only won 90 games to earn the National League East title, they defeated the Dodgers (92 wins) and Cubs (97 wins) to capture the N.L. crown. As the survivor of a playoff tournament that also featured the 100-win Cardinals and the 98-win Pirates, the New York Mets are no easy mark.
The New York Mets faithful are caught up in the delusion that Jeurys Familia is the best closer in the game. Familia is certainly a shut down guy, with a 1.85 ERA and 43 saves in 48 chances in 2015. But, he ain’t Wade Davis.
Davis has the best two-year ERA of any reliever in MLB history going back more than 90 years.
In many ways, the Mets/Royals match-up will be a head-to-head confrontation of an early 00’s sabermetric team going up against the new model Kansas City Royals.
The Mets are built around three power arms in the starting rotation, matched with an offense that bashes home runs (177, tied for third in the N.L. while playing in a massive home park in Citi Field) while ignoring the running game (51 stolen bases as a team).
The Mets look almost exactly like an ideal Moneyball-era team that emphasizes power over contact (21% team K rate), doesn’t steal bases, and makes up for mediocre defense (17th in team DEF Rating (Fangraphs) at 2.3) with pitchers who miss bats.
Meanwhile the KC Royals emphasize putting the ball in play on offense, exceptional defense, and a shut down bullpen that is deep enough to finish games with no more than five innings from their starters.
Most playoff teams are in trouble if their bullpen piles up nearly as many innings as their starters. For the Kansas City Royals, it just means they’re playing to their strengths. The KC Royals won the American League playoffs in 2015 with the starters contributing 55.0 innings and the relievers soaking up 41.0.
Here are five reasons why the KC Royals will prevail in the end:
Next: Home Field Advantage