The World Series is upon us once again, as the San Francisco Giants will do battle with the Kansas City Royals for the coveted Commissioners Trophy. This series is shaping up to be a classic as both teams are deserving and determined to win October's grandest prize. The Giants and the Royals have both clawed and scratched their way through the regular season in hopes of a postseason appearance, as both teams managed to fight their way into the wild-card playoff game of their respective leagues.
When the postseason began a few weeks ago, the thought of a San Francisco/Kansas City final was far off in the minds of many baseball fans. The division winners were stacked squads all of which looked like prime contenders for the championship but the underdogs prevailed.
Heading into the series, the Royals are hotter than hell at the moment. The team has yet to lose a game this postseason and are heading into the finals with a blemish-free record of 8-0. It all began in the wild-card game against the Oakland Athletics, where the Royals mounted a dramatic late-game comeback to force extra innings – eventually winning the game in twelve.
Kansas City would move on to the American League Division Series where they pulled off a clean sweep of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Next up was the American League Championship Series and another hot team in the Baltimore Orioles. However, the birds from Maryland were no match for the Royals as they too were swept and eliminated in four straight games.
The Giants wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Pirates was far-less dramatic that the AL game. San Francisco walked into Pittsburgh and put the beat-down on the Pirates, shutting them down on all levels and keeping them off the scoreboard with an emphatic 8-0 victory.
The National League Division Series would bring about a tough opponent for the Giants as they were to play the top team in the NL; the Washington Nationals. The Giants played hard, winning all of their games by a single run which included an eighteen inning marathon in the second game of the series. The Giants eliminated the Nationals in four games.
In the National League Championship Series, the Giants would run into a familiar opponent in the St. Louis Cardinals – a team who doesn't seem to miss the NLCS. Much like their previous series, the Giants would lose only one game and finished off the Cardinals in five at AT&T Park.
Now, the stage is set and on Tuesday night in Kansas City, the 2014 World Series will commence. And, who will win that series? The Giants of course. With all due respect to the Royals – their run has been quite impressive but their about to receive a giant wake up call from San Francisco.
These are the top 10 reasons why the Giants will win the World Series …
10 Cooling Down a Hot Streak
Let's begin with the obvious reason; the Kansas City Royals are on a hot streak – riding a wave of momentum during all this melee. What are they doing? And how are they doing it so well? The answer to those questions don't really matter as their hot streak will inevitably come to and end. There is no way the Royals will sweep the Giants and complete the perfect postseason. This is The Wizard of Oz on a baseball field. The Royals may not be from the state of Kansas but Kansas City is good enough. This team of collective Dorothy's will follow the yellow brick road to find The Wizard but along the way will be eaten by a Panda. Time for these boys to put on the ruby-red slippers and awake from the dream.
9 Building a Dynasty
I wasn't even alive the last time the Kansas City Royals were in the World Series nearly thirty years ago in 1985. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Giants will be playing in their third World Series in the past five years. They became world champions in 2010 and 2012 and will do so again in 2014 as the newest baseball dynasty is officially in bloom. The 10's or 20-10's (whatever you call this decade) is in fact the Giants decade for the taking. Within the next couple of weeks, they will capture yet another World Series, adding more worth to their franchise and another banner to the stadium as they continue to build their dynasty.
8 Madison Bumgarner
The Royals are due to face left-handed pitcher Madison Bumgarner at least twice throughout the series and a third time if they manage to take the Giants deep into said series. Regardless of the games won or lost by each team, should this series go all the way to a game seven, Madison Bumgarner will not lose in the high-pressure situation. Bumgarner is only twenty-five-years old but looks like a consummate veteran on the mound. In the World Series, when everything is laid out on the line and its do or die or the sun won't shine tomorrow, Madison Bumgarner will rise up to the occasion.
7 Small Ball
While the pennant-winning hit that sent San Francisco to the World Series was a home run by Travis Ishikawa, the longball has not been very present in the Giants offensive play this postseason. Instead, they have been relying on small ball and playing it almost down to a science. Taking singles and one base at a time has been proving effective. Advancing the runners as needed through sacrifice flies or bunts. Remaining patient at the plate, working the count, and drawing walks. All of these factors will come into play during the World Series. The Royals may play the small ball as well at some point during the series but not to the same precision as the Giants.
6 Defying the Numbers
If you analyze this World Series by the numbers, the Royals should win. Kansas City has scored more runs than San Francisco despite the fact that they have played fewer games. The team as a whole have more stolen bases as well as a higher batting average and on-base percentage. The Royals accomplished all this even though the Giants have been to the plate seventy-nine more times than them during the postseason. But, that's all on paper – on the field, the Giants will find a way to win just like they have been doing all month long.
Something that you can never take away from a championship series in any sport is the experience level of the teams involved. There is always room for new faces but experience is what brings about the right vibe for a team to mesh well an co-exist throughout the game. The bottom line here is that the Giants roster have far more playoff experience than the Royals. This will a play factor when all the baseball eyes are looking upon the two teams left standing. The Royals are hungry no doubt, but the Giants will feast on victory while the Royals remain at the kids table.
4 The Core
The core of the San Francisco Giants batting order consists of its numbers three, four, and five hitters: Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and Hunter Pence. In order to win, all three of these men must step up big in the World Series. This is the time for the stars to shine. To take the reigns and steer this team to the championship. While all three men have had on and off games at the plate, they must and will come through against Kansas City. Posey, Sandoval, and Pence are the heart, soul, and spirit of the San Francisco Giants organization which they will prove in the World Series.
3 Smaller Bats
Naturally, the game cannot be won by three men alone therefore, the Giants will need to see some solid production form the smaller bats in the order. Gregor Blanco and Joe Panik hitting in the one and two spots will need to reach base on a consistent basis in order to help with the core hitters run production. Meanwhile guys like Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, and Travis Ishikawa will need to keep the bottom half of the order productive as well. This is all a part of the Giants dynamic that will keep them going strong as they head into the World Series.
The National League bullpens are more often than not more efficient than American League bullpens. This stems as a result of pitchers getting to bat in the NL and sometimes being forced to an early exit for a pinch-hitter. There needs a suitable replacement for the staring pitcher should he need to be substituted for a stronger hitter. This all plays up to the Giants advantage as their bullpen is a well-oiled machine. Often called upon to help bring home the ball game, the bullpen from San Francisco is ready and able to step in when needed. This bullpen will help desist any late-inning heroics by the Royals.
The main reason the Giants are going to win the World Series over the Royals is their management. Bruce Bochy is one of the best managers in the game today and with a stellar staff behind him, they will lead the Giants to the championship. The Royals manger Ned Yost has been to the World Series before as as a bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves in 1995. However, being the head of the operation is a completely different world and I just can't seem him getting it done. With that, I must give props where props are due; the Kansas City Royals have done some pretty spectacular things this postseason and should be commended for their efforts but this World Series belongs to the San Francisco Giants.