World Series: Kansas City Vs. San Francisco

World Series Time!!!!!!! Finally!!!!

 

In this edition, since I have gone over these two teams (Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants) a lot, I will say which team has the advantage position by position.

 

Catcher: Buster Posey (Giants) has already established himself as a superstar who has even won an MVP and two World Series Championships. He has a potent bat, calls a good game, has a great arm, and is a leader. Salvador Perez (Royals) is another excellent defender and has a great bat. He lacks experience in the playoffs, but that shouldn’t be too much of a factor. Advantage: Giants. Perez has struggled since the second half of the season started and Posey is just a monster.

 

First base: Brandon Belt (Giants) has a lot of pop in his bat and is a good defender, plus he has won a World Series in 2012. Eric Hosmer (Royals) has been red hot with his bat this postseason and is a gold glove first baseman. Advantage: Royals. This was a tough one, but Hosmer is clearly the better player here.

 

Second base: Joe Panik (Giants) has been exceptional this postseason playing solid defense and has been terrorizing pitchers in the National League with his bat. Omar Infante (Royals), though is not creating havoc with his bat, is proving to be a stability in the lineup and has given solid defense. Advantage: Even

 

Shortstop: Brandon Crawford (Giants) is a great defender and actually is a decent hitter. Alcides Escobar (Royals) has great speed and is flashy with the glove. Advantage: I have to give it to the Royals based on speed. Crawford may have the edge with the glove but that’s hard to decide.

 

Third base: Pablo Sandoval (Giants) is a great hitter and is an exceptional defender, plus he is a World Series MVP in 2012. Mike Moustakas was a high draft pick who has shown incredible ability in the field and is red-hot with his bat. Advantage: Giants. Sandoval was a clear choice here and has more experience despite the talent and great play of Moustakas

 

Left Field: Travis Ishikawa (Giants) has filled nicely in left field, but this is his first try there. Alex Gordon is a great hitter and a Gold Glover in the field. Advantage: Royals, clearly.

 

Center Field: Gregor Blanco (Giants) has been great in the field and has been a nice table setter in the top of the lineup giving the spark that their lineup needs. Lorenzo Cain (Royals) has been Superman out in the field making incredible catches and was unstoppable with the bat in the ALCS hitting around .600. Advantage: Royals, duh!

 

Right Field: Hunter Pence (Giants) is probably the best right fielder in the National League as he provides solid defense and a great bat who comes up in the clutch. Plus he is a veteran leader who sparked the Giants in their quest for the 2012 World Series championship. Nori Aoki (Royals) has been a solid presence in the top of the offense and has made outstanding catches in the outfield. Advantage: Ummmmm really? The Giants of course.

 

Designated Hitter: The Giants don’t have a DH, but it will likely be Mike Morse who has been clutch as a pinch hitter. Billy Butler has a lot of power in his bat. Advantage: Royals because of the AL/NL difference.

 

Bench: The Giants really lack a lot here. The Royals have a lot of players who are speedy, who have pop, and show a lot of veteran leadership like Raul Ibanez.

 

Rotation: Both rotations are great, but there has to be one that has the edge. The Royals have a big game pitcher in James Shields, talented in Yordano Ventura and Danny Duffy, eating up innings like Jason Vargas, and a veteran in Jeremy Guthrie. The Giants on the other hand have former Cy Young Award winners in Tim Lincecum and Jake Peavy, one of the best postseason pitchers of all time, Madison Bumgarner, and a seasoned veteran in Tim Hudson who was once of the best pitchers in baseball and is making his first trip to the World Series at the age of 39. Advantage: Giants

 

Bullpen: The Giants bullpen has proven to me that they are much better than what I thought. It had kept them in games this postseason that the Giants had no business of winning, but gave them a chance to win. They have been lights out. As for the Royals, they have the best bullpen in all of baseball. If they get a lead and hand the reigns over to the three headed monster of Greg Holland, Kelvin Hererra, and Wade Davis, that’s it, game over. Advantage: Royals.

 

Manager: Bruce Bochy of the Giants is arguably one of the best in postseason history. Ned Yost has made some bad decisions, but it hasn’t bitten him in the butt. He has luck on his side. Advantage: Royals

 

Prediction: Talent Vs. Experience. Dynasty vs. Destiny. This is gonna be an awesome World Series! It’s got the making of a seven game classic. However, there can only be one champion. So I’m gonna hop on the bandwagon as a representative of the AL Central will be making an appearance in this year’s World Series. Yes I am picking the Kansas City Royals to win the World Series. The Giants will not be able to keep up with the speed of the Royals, the arms in the bullpen, or be able to overcome the loud crowd at Kauffman Stadium. I got a chance to see the Royals in person in the last week of the season at U.S. Cellular playing the White Sox and from what I saw is that this is a great ballclub. I really thought they had a chance to make a run this year. They won three out of four, but they didn’t win by overpowering the White Sox, they just did everything right. They rely on the small ball, for which I’m a sucker for, and it’s a lot of fun to watch. They have nothing to lose and they are going to be starting what I think is a potential dynasty. Even if you are not a fan of either team like myself, get excited!

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NLCS Preview: Giants vs. Cardinals

This would have been a very interesting matchup had the Nationals played better and advanced, but I feel like this will be a boring one. The NLCS I will be looking at is the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.

 

Lets look at San Francisco first.

 

I will say San Francisco has made it this far based on luck. Knowingly, the Giants pitchers would hold Washington’s offense down more so than all the other pitching staffs were able to in the second half, but that was ridiculous. The Nationals offense literally could not get any rallies going. The San Francisco pitching staff threw some very hittable pitches that Washington didn’t capitalize on. Also the Giants offense was pretty lackluster as well as their last four runs of the series scored on a walk, wild pitch, and two ground outs. So really they won the series on luck, they were not the better team. But I said that their pitching would be the only reason why they would stay in the series, which it did. Their offense is however getting a boost as Mike Morse is coming back from an injury and will start in left field. Their bullpen has proven to be better than what they were in the regular season and their defense is just fine.

 

As for the Cardinals, they have proven in the last series against the Dodgers that they were the true second best team in the National League, now they are the best. Their offense is just incredible, their pitching staff is sensational, and defensively they are great. I really don’t need to preview much about these guys because of how good they are.

 

Prediction: As much as I keep saying the Giants would lose in their matchups in the playoffs, there just is no way they will continue to prove wrong here against the Cardinals. The Cardinals won’t make the same mistakes as the Nationals would and it will be harder for the Giants to beat an experienced and talented team in St. Louis. In a rematch of the 2012 NLCS, the Cardinals will sweep the series.

ALCS Preview: Kansas City Vs. Baltimore

No one could have said this would have been the ALCS matchup when the season started, but the Baltimore Orioles and the Kansas City Royals will be squaring off in this year’s ALCS.

 

Lets take a look at what Kansas City is like.

 

The Royals are a very good team and they have now finally gotten the recognition they deserved after beating a hot-hitting team in the Angels. What you need to know, or be reminded, about Kansas City is that they use speed to win ball games. You will see them steal a lot of bases to get into scoring positions and they are also not afraid to steal third base in critical situations. Lots of analysts said this team lacks power, though the statistic says that they only hit 95 home runs this season, there is more pop in their bats than what everybody thinks. Certainly the long ball has helped them a lot in games this postseason and have scored a good amount of runs. Their starting pitching is fantastic and their bullpen can shut down any offense. They also can use some small ball that has helped create runs and their defense is so good that they have taken away so many scoring opportunities from other teams. They might not seem like an imposing team, but they are dangerous.

 

The Orioles on the other hand are a very good and consistent team. Their starting pitching and bullpen, not nearly as good as the Royals, are still pretty good. They are good enough that pitchers’ duels could happen in this series. Their offense is not like a firing breathing dragon like the Angels was, but they can score a lot of runs, especially with Nelson Cruz in the lineup. Defensively, they are fine but not quite at the level of the Royals. They won’t steal many bases, but they need to as they get into scoring position a lot by just getting a base hit, however they are smart on the base paths so don’t count out the O’s in stealing a base.

 

Prediction: This will be a very close series. A full seven games. Each game will be well pitched and each game could be decided by one run. However, I feel like this will be the Orioles series to take. They will be able to avenge the heartbreaking ALCS losses in 1996 and 1997 for the fans.

NLDS preview: Cardinals vs. Dodgers

In this series I will be previewing one of the most intriguing series in the whole postseason at I look over the Los Angeles Dodgers-St. Louis Cardinals NLDS.

 

Lets look at the St. Louis Cardinals.

 

If you want to talk about experience then these guys are loaded with it. This core has won a World Series in 2011, came within one out of the World Series in 2012, and made it back last season to lose to the Boston Red Sox. They also have two other players on the roster who won a World Series in 2006. This team is loaded with talent too and are probably the second best team in the National League to the Nationals. Their rotation will be Adam Wainwright who has a Cy Young Award stuff, Michael Wacha who was practically unhittable last year in the postseason, John Lackey who won a World Series with Angels in 2002 and with the Red Sox last season, plus he has fantastic stuff, and Lance Lynn who could be a viable number two pitcher in a lot of rotation. Their bullpen is pretty solid with Shelby Miller moving there from the rotation. It includes Randy Choat, Sam Freeman, Seth Manness, Carlos Martinez, Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal who make a formidable core of relievers. As for the lineup, its loaded. They have Yadier Molina, who is considered the best catcher in the game, Matt Carpenter who is slowly becoming a fantastic third baseman, Matt Adams who slugs a lot of pitches into the stands, Kolten Wong, a rookie of the year candidate, Jhonny Peralta who set the Cardinals record for the most home runs hit by a shortstop, Matt Holliday who puts up MVP type numbers every year, Peter Bourjos who is one of the fastest men in the game, and Jon Jay who has loads of talent. Their bench consists of Tony Cruz, Daniel Descalso, Pete Kozma, Randal Grichuk, and Oscar Taveras who have the ability to start. Defensively I think they are the best in Majors.

 

However, the Los Angeles Dodgers will be a challenge as they could easily sweep the Cardinals. Behind the Nationals, they might have second best rotation in the National League. They have Clayton Kershaw, considered the best pitcher in the game and could win both the Cy Young and MVP this season, Zack Greinke who is their second ace on the team, Hyun-Jin Ryu, one of the most underrated starting pitchers in the league, and Dan Haren who used to be a former ace. The bullpen consists of Jamey Wright, Brandon League, Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell, Pedro Baez, and Brian Wilson. In that bullpen who have seasoned veterans, former closers, and young talent as they bring a great bullpen to the table. Their offense is incredible too as they have Adrian Gonzalez, their main slugger, Hanley Ramirez who used to be a star in Miami with the Marlins, Dee Gordon, a speedy second baseman, Juan Uribe, who has won two World Series with the Chicago White Sox in 2005 and San Francisco Giants in 2010, Andre Ethier, one of the best outfielders in the game, Matt Kemp, a five tool player who puts up MVP like numbers, and Yasiel Puig who is one of the most exciting players in the game, and A.J. Ellis who is solid presence behind the plate. The bench consists of veterans who would start like Scott Van Slyke, Carl Crawford, Justin Turner, and Drew Butera.

 

Prediction: Too close to call, but I feel like the Cardinals are the most complete team here. The record might say the Dodgers are better, and rightfully so, but if it wasn’t for Molina having an injury, they would have had a better record. I think its gonna be a close series, but the Cardinals will come out on top in the fifth game.

NLDS Preview: Nationals vs. Giants

Now this is a series I have been the most excited about. Reason? Because I am from the great city of Washington, D.C. Yes some of you are thinking “wait aren’t you a White Sox fan?” To answer that question: Yes, in fact a die-hard, but since they are in AL and the Nationals are in the NL and they rarely play one another, I can root for both. So if you haven’t figured it out, I will be previewing the Washington Nationals-San Francisco Giants NLDS.

 

In shocking fashion, the Giants advanced to the NLDS, but there they will face a tough test. Their rotation will look like Jake Peavy, Tim Lincecum, Yusmeiro Petit and Madison Bumgarner. In a surprise Tim Hudson is not included and neither is Ryan Vogelsong. Obviously people saw what Bumgarner did, but many might know the others have done this season. Peavy came over in a trade and has solidified their rotation, Lincecum is a former Cy Young Award winner and threw a no-hitter this year and Petit set a record for the most consecutive batters retired. As I mentioned how the offense was for the team in the previous blog post and how their bench is. They will have some tough times though in this series.

 

Why do I say it will be tough for the Giants? Well lets delve deep into the Nationals team. This team was sensational this year going 96-66 including going 21-9 in their last 30 games. What their biggest strength is their pitching as their starters only gave up about 10 hits all together in the last week of the season and had a 0.88 ERA. That’s unheard of. The rotation will look like this: Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Doug Fister and the last spot will be either between Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark, but that’s a good problem to have as they five starting pitchers who can shut you down. They may not have accolades that the Giants do, but they have the hype and one of them is coming off a no-hitter. They have more momentum than the Giants and that helps a lot. Their bullpen is sensational as they have Craig Stammen, Matt Thornton, Jerry Blevins, and Aaron Barrett who are rock solid, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano as the lights out bridge to Drew Storen who as a closer has a 1.12 ERA. As for the offense, they are incredibly good and consistent as they will have Wilson Ramos at catcher, Adam LaRoche at first base, Asdrubal Cabrera at second base, Ian Desmond at shortstop, Anthony Rendon at third base, Bryce Harper at left field, Denard Span in center field and Jayson Werth in right field. On this team you have phenoms, veterans, and former world champions as that is a recipe for success. On their bench they have Danny Espinosa, Kevin Frandsen, Nate Schierholtz, and Jose Lobaton, but they also have Ryan Zimmerman, their normal everyday third baseman on their bench and will be used in crucial situations in pinch hit roles or stating against lefties most likely playing first. He was hampered, by injuries so that’s why he is on the bench. But it’s a good problem to have with Zimmerman looking for a starting role. Defensively they are also outstanding.

 

Prediction: It maybe bias, but also it seems pretty obvious, but I have the Nationals winning this series. They need to keep doing what they have been doing and get some timely hitting against these Giants. The starting pitching will absolutely dominate the Giants offense and will have no problem matching zeroes with San Francisco’s starters.

ALDS: Angels Vs. Royals

This will be the most intriguing series to write about since how I see it and how the Vegas odds see it, but it’s a lot easier to predict than most will think. The other ALDS series to preview will be the Kansas City Royals up against the Los Angeles Angels.

 

Lets start with Kansas City.

 

Seemingly momentum continued for the Royals as they won in dramatic fashion against Oakland as that will be a game that will be remembered for a long time. Well I already previewed what type of team they are in the AL Wild Card preview, but I will go over the type of offense they have. They rely on speed and finesse as many saw with the seven stolen bases in one game. That produced a lot of runs for them. Many say that they lack power, which statistically is true, but if you look what the team has done in the past, there is more power there than one may think. Many remember me saying how great the bullpen is as they have the three headed monster of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland. But they also have Brandon Finnegan, who proved his worth in his dominant relief outing in the Wild Card game, Jason Frasor and Tim Collins who are solid. It looks like Jeremy Guthrie will join them in the pen as that will strengthen it even more as their bullpen is the strongest part of their game. Their rotation will be Jason Vargas, Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura, and James Shields.

 

However the Royals will meet a firing breathing dragon in the Los Angeles Angels who had the best record in the Majors. However, I feel like they got lucky with that after Oakland went on a tailspin. They also played in a somewhat easy division this season. Are they playoff worthy? Absolutely but they got lucky enough to have a record that great. Their offense is incredible as they will have Erick Aybar, David Freese, Howie Kendrick, and Kole Calhoun who bring the thunder. But that’s not all, they have Albert Pujols who is one of the greatest hitters in recent memories and he recorded his 500th home run earlier this year, Josh Hamilton who was once a thorn in the Angels side when he was with Texas as he put up MVP like numbers there, and they have probably the best player in baseball with Mike Trout who is know to be a great defender, a lot of speed on the bases, and provides power and a great average. That’s a tough lineup as there really are no holes there. And they have a seasoned veteran on their bench, Gordon Beckham, who should help them greatly and Collin Cowgill who is starting material. But they do have a weakness, its called pitching. Their rotation is Jered Weaver, Matt Shoemaker, C.J. Wilson and Hector Santiago, but it would have been better had not their best pitcher, Garrett Richards, gone down with an injury. Weaver and Shoemaker have been great, but not dominant as Wilson and Santiago have struggled this year. Their bullpen has saved them, but its still not as great as most think. Yeah Joe Smith has been phenomenal and Huston Street has been great at closer, but after that the bullpen is questionable. The numbers suggest that Kevin Jepsen, Mike Morin, Vinnie Pestano, and Cory Rasmus are great, but from what I saw of them this season, I wasn’t impressed. Also Jason Grilli and Fernando Salas have been terrible this year as they have blown a lot of opportunities.

 

Prediction: I got to go with the Royals here. I’m a sucker for small ball play and they are so aggressive on the offensive with the way they steal a lot of bases and they keep attacking getting a lot of hits. I think it will be tough for the Angels pitching this series. The Angels with get hits and score some runs, but the pitching has to mitigate the damage as much as possible with the amount of weapons in that lineup. The Angels could very well win this series, but I feel like the Royals will pull this out.

ALDS Preview: Orioles vs. Tigers

Ah finally a series I can preview with out having to look at the lineups. Well we are finally out of the Wild Card one-game playoff round which showed some drama and a game that was down right boring. However now we get into the real playoff series where its not one and done.

 

Lets take a look at the Baltimore Orioles-Detroit Tigers series

 

First with the Tigers. This team comes in with loads of talent and experience. They have been to the postseason for the fourth consecutive time and in the three times earlier they have won an American League pennant and have been to the ALCS three times. Why have they been so successful? They have an explosive offense and a starting rotation that is almost unfair. They have in their rotation Justin Verlander, a former MVP and Cy Young award winner, David Price, a former Cy Young as well and who has been to the postseason in every season but two in his career, Max Scherzer, the reigning Cy Young, and Rick Porcello who is has been a solid back end of the rotation. Anibal Sanchez would have likely been the number four starter but due to coming off an injury he will be coming out of the bullpenpen. The offense is fantastic as they have a former Triple Crown winner in the lineup. What’s scary about Detroit is that if your team has a lead, you better make sure you are careful what pitches to throw as the Tigers offense could explode at any moment and have a big (and I mean like BIG) inning where they can take the lead by a lot of runs. They have the best 3-4 tandem with Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez as you practically have to pick your poison when facing either one. Cabrera was that former Triple Crown winner mentioned earlier and is undoubtedly the best right handed batter in the Majors right now. Victor Martinez had a breakout season, at 36! He hit .330 with 32 home runs and drove in over 100 runs, plus he has only struck out 42 times. That’s the Tigers two headed monster. The supporting cast of Alex Avila, Nick Castellanos, and J.D. Martinez help out on offense as they have been able to drive in runs. Torii Hunter, is the veteran leader of the team as he has the most experience out of every one on the team. And the team has lots of speed at the top of the lineup with Rajai Davis and Ian Kinsler. The biggest hole they have this season is the shortstop position as their regular, Jose Iglesias, was injured before the season started. They have yet to fine a consistent starter, but look for it to be Andrew Romine. This team however has two weaknesses, one of which has hurt them the most. Their bench is practically nothing and their bullpen is absolutely atrocious. Yeah the Sanchez move to the bullpen will (a lot!) but that will not be enough. The bullpen always makes things interesting as they are either clinging onto a lead or letting it slip away. Their bullpen consists of Al Alburquerque, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke, Jim Johnson, Joakim Soria, and Joe Nathan. The only pitcher with in that group with an ERA below 3.00 is Alburquerque, but other than that the rest is terrible. Yeah some of those names in there are players who were once great closers like Nathan and Johnson, a set up man for the Yankees in Chamberlain, a former All Star in Soria, but they just have not panned out well. If it becomes a battle of the pens, they will lose. Defensively, they aren’t great either, but that part hasn’t been an issue. It could in the playoffs though.

 

Now to the Baltimore Orioles. Man what a year it has been for them. They clinched the AL East title for the first time since 1997 and are back in the postseason as they last appeared in 2012. This team lacks one thing though, experience. That’s something the Tigers have an abundance of. Sure some of the players on the team have some playoff experience, but not most. However I will say one thing about this team, they are the best team in the American League. Mark my words, this team is good. The last time they clinched their division they made it to the ALCS where they lost to the Cleveland Indians. They will look to not make that same mistake again. Their offense, though not as overpowering as Detroit’s, is still dangerous and has clubbed over 200 home runs as they lead the Majors in that category. However they have been bit by the injury bug as their power hitting catcher Matt Wieters went down with an arm injury, their young star Manny Machado hurt his knee and they even lost their big slugger Chris Davis to a PED suspension of 25 games. However many players have stepped up like the catching platoon of Nick Hundley and Caleb Joseph who have just been phenomenal despite what their statistics have said. Steve Pearce was forced to play first base and had a breakout year. Then they had to use a platoon of Jimmy Paredes and Kelly Johnson at third base which has worked out perfectly as Johnson has given them an experienced veteran and Paredes provides a lot of pop. They signed Nelson Cruz in the offseason and has given them so much power at the DH position. Then they have the players who have been mainstays in the offense for awhile as Nick Markakis and Adam Jones lead this young club on the offense and they have J.J. Hardy who has been holding down the shortstop position for awhile. Their second base position is their “weakest” part of the team as they have Jonathan Schoop there, but he has so much pop in his bat its hard to take him our of the lineup. Their bench consists of players who also have the ability to even start like Alejandro De Aza, David Lough, Ryan Flaherty, and Delmon Young so expect to see these guys make appearances. The depth of their bench will be crucial in this series. Their rotation, which isn’t as hyped as Detroit’s, is pretty fantastic. And of late they have been lights out as they have ERAs in the 3.00 region. Wei Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez, Chris Tillman and Bud Norris round out their rotation as Ubaldo Jimenez is likely to be in the bullpen. These guys are young, but very talented and expect to be up to the challenge of a very good Tigers rotation. Their bullpen has been phenomenal of late as last month it was a staggering 2.12 ERA. Brad Brach, Tommy Hunter, Andrew Miller, Kevin Gausman, and Darren O’Day represent the pen with Jimenez and look to shut down Detroit’s offense and Zach Britton, their closer, has been lights out this season. Their bullpen should be a huge reason of their success if they go all the way in the postseason.

 

Prediction: This was an easy choice, but I am going with the Orioles here. I think it will be decided in three or four games, but if it does go to the fifth don’t be surprised. If the Orioles are gonna win their starters are going to have to match zeroes with Detroit’s starters, get into that weak bullpen, and slow down the Tigers offense. Detroit’s offense will get hits and drive in runs, but if they can limit the damage Cabrera and Martinez create, Baltimore will be successful. They just have to shut down the supporting cast in the Detroit lineup. I think if it becomes a battle of bullpens, Detroit will falter greatly as that’s their Achilles’ heal and the Orioles’ strength.