Written by: Drew Duff
Ball State Sports Link Member
The World Series has always been a showcase for Major League Baseball’s most memorable and exciting moments. From Babe Ruth’s “called” home run in 1932, to the ball rolling through Bill Buckner’s legs in 1986, and to the Boston Red Sox breaking “The Curse of the Bambino” in 2004, the Fall Classic lives up to its well deserved name.
This year’s World Series, featuring the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals, should be no different. It will be one of the most exciting series in recent memory. Here are five reasons why you can’t miss the 2015 World Series.
1. Kansas City can knock the ball around
Arguably the most exciting thing about baseball (at least to me) is hitting, and the Royals do it better than anyone in the majors. In just 11 postseason games, they have scored 63 runs, while hitting 15 home runs. Kansas City has also struck out 146 times fewer than any other team in the American League during the regular season. It’s safe to say that Ned Yost’s team is hungry at the plate, swinging on the first pitch more than any team.
The front office went on the hunt for additional hitters before the trade deadline on July 31, picking up 2B Ben Zobrist from Oakland. Zobrist has proved himself to be a terrific acquisition, hitting .326 in the postseason. SS Alcides Escobar and RF Alex Rios have step up to the plate so to speak, as they are also hitting over .300. DH Kendrys Morales has been an important power hitter in the lineup. He has hit 4 home runs and sports an .872 OPS (slugging percentage + on base percentage) in October.
As baseball analyst Eduardo Perez said on Sportscenter, Kansas City is the best fastball hitting team in baseball. The Royals have scary hitters that terrify any pitching coach.
Unfortunately for them, the Mets have one of the best starting rotations in baseball. Which brings me to the next reason why you can’t miss the World Series this year…
2. The Mets have a sick rotation
I don’t ever use the word sick in this way, meaning that the Mets truly do have a sick rotation.
New York’s starting pitchers have posted a 2.56 ERA so far in the playoffs. Their four starters can all touch 97 MPH with their fastball. This is a feat that is rare in itself, but there’s more.
Matt Harvey, the starter for Game 1 on Tuesday night, is the oldest starter, at 27 years old. The youth and dominance of this starting pitching staff is being compared with the likes of the Atlanta Braves in 1992, when Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery helped Atlanta dominate the rest of the decade.
The Cubs were on a roll and considered the hottest team in baseball entering the NLCS, and the Mets embarrassed them. They held Chicago to just a .164 batting average during the four game sweep. Cubs hitters struck out at least eight times in each game.
Yes the Royals hit very well, but Mets starters are putting up record numbers even this far into the postseason. This will be the most interesting match up to watch for this World Series. And speaking of pitching…
3. The Royals have a dominant bullpen
Kansas City’s relief pitching isn’t quite on par with Mets starting pitching, but it still causes nightmares for opposing hitters.
The Royals bullpen in the postseason is 5-0 with a 2.85 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 41 innings of work. They are also averaging almost 11 strikeouts per 9 innings of work, and closer Wade Davis hasn’t allowed a single run in the playoffs and has struck out 10 in 6 2/3 innings.
This is much needed coming from a starting pitching staff that, safe to say, has been knocked around a lot in the postseason. Royals starting pitching has an ERA of 5.56 in the playoffs, and they’ve given up 48 hits and 29 walks in just 55 innings.
If Kansas City plans not coming out on the short end for the second year in a row, their starting rotation will need to pick up the slack. They can no longer rely on their bullpen to bail them out of games.
My next point is something that you (as a casual sports fan) may not think is important, but it is so critical when it comes to baseball.
4. Kansas City has a solid defense
This could be make or break the series for the Royals. They have to play error free baseball, which they’ve done all year. They’ve committed only one error in 11 games this postseason, and it’s actually the second year in a row that Kansas City has had the best defense in the majors.
Ned Yost was quoted on KMBC-TV last week as saying “We can stop rallies with defense. Our pitchers have confidence knowing they can pitch to contact because we can make plays defensively.” It makes the defense that much more important when the manager points out its success and has so much confidence in it.
Last year, the Royals won the AL Wild Card and made the playoffs for the first time since they last won the World Series in 1985. There was no one that expected them to make it all the way to the Fall Classic, and nearly win it. Their strong defensive play was the biggest factor in the young and inexperienced team making it that far.
The Mets also play great defensive ball however, allowing three errors over the postseason, which is part of the reason why this team has been so dominant. No doubt it has helped their pitching perform as good as it has been.
No matter what happens with defense though, there is one person that even the most solid defense can’t stop.
5. Daniel Murphy
If you haven’t heard about the playoff sensation that is Daniel Murphy, then you have surely been missing out.
He is now the only player in the history of the MLB (yes you read that right) to hit a home run in six consecutive playoff games. The second baseman is the only player besides Lou Gehrig to get a hit, an RBI, and score a run in seven straight postseason games. Being compared to one of baseball’s greatest players is no small feat.
It’s such a big deal that one of the most famous baseball bars in New York, named Foley’s NY Pub and Restaurant, has been temporarily renamed Daniel Murphy’s by owner Shaun Clancy.
It seems strange and rather random that Murphy would perform this well, considering he has never hit more than four home runs in any given month. According to teammate Kelly Johnson, it’s not strange at all. “Since I’ve been here,” he said, “I’ve seen this guy in batting practice hit balls as far as anybody, as consistently as anybody. The power and the pop is there..”.
I view Murphy as a wild card in the series, given that he keeps up his stellar performance. He’s hitting .421 with 7 home runs and 11 RBI in the playoffs. Without him, the team batting average is nearly 40 points lower. It can’t be understated how important he is to the Mets.
Prediction: As I’ve said, this is going to be a thrilling series. These two teams have very contrasting styles of play and something has to give. I’m giving the advantage to Kansas City due to the fact that they were in this same spot last year. The Royals win in seven games.