This is the first World Series roundtable in Royals Review history, but we hope to make this an annual thing. The Royals have swept every Wild Card game or series since we began these roundtables, and I don't think this is an accident. Let's have it out one more time with the Kevins.
Vegas opened with the Royals as slight favorites. Do you agree?
Matthew LaMar: Yeah, I do. The Royals are on an unstoppable roll lately, and though that didn't work out so well for the 2007 Rockies, the Royals are the better team in the better league. They've also been more consistent for longer.
Kevin Ruprecht: I can't believe I'm saying this. Yes.
Josh Duggan: It's hard to argue with their postseason thus far.
Max Rieper: The Royals won more games in arguably the stronger league (American League beat the National League in interleague play 163-137), swept the Giants in a three-game set in August, and have home-field advantage, so I have to think they are slight favorites.
Tyler Drenon: The odds for a Royals sweep should be 1.00001-to-1.
Joshua Ward: I think this series is about as even as you can make it, and had the Giants been the fortunate recipients of a National League victory in the meaningless All-Star game back in July, I have a feeling the odds would be flipped between the two teams. That isn't to say I disagree. I do think the Royals have slight edges in a lot of meaningful areas, namely defense, speed, and bullpen. Whether or not that should collectively translate to an edge over a superior offense and a Giants rotation that, while not necessarily better overall, is certainly better at the top, is another story altogether.
Shaun Newkirk: I think it's 51/49 Royals or so. Maybe as high as 53/47 Royals because of home field advantage and their "hot streak"
The Giants pitching this year was good, not great, but they have a ton of post-season experience. How do the Royals hitters stack up against this pitching staff?
Matthew LaMar: I'm terrified of Madison Bumgarner. Power lefty with great platoon advantage against Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon? Yeah, not good. Not terribly worried about the rest though.
Joshua Ward: Fairly well, once you get past the first guy. Madison Bumgarner is a swing-and-miss pitcher who also has great command and seems to have better-than-average skill at producing weak contact (career .291 BABIP). He is the best starting pitcher in this series, and that means a lot, because he can theoretically appear three times, and will show up at least twice if we get to a Game 5.
Tim Hudson is a ground ball specialist who relies on his defense to turn balls in play into outs. Against a contact-based attack, that could be trouble. Jake Peavy is ridiculously fly ball-oriented (62.4%) and has been insanely lucky on HR/FB (3.2%). His season overall numbers, and not just what happened after he was traded to San Francisco, are a better indicator of what you might expect from him.
I think the Giants have a better matchup in Game 1, but I'd give the edge to the Royals in Game 2 and Game 3, with Game 4 being a slight favorite to the Giants, presuming it is Guthrie V. Vogelsong, because Guthrie against all of those left-handed batters is a problem. The Royals should really, really, really consider starting Danny Duffy against the Giants instead of Guthrie.
Tyler Drenon: Hopefully, the Royals can make the Giants' starters work. San Francisco's bullpen is pretty good, but Kansas City has proven they have the distinct advantage over anyone and everyone in the late innings of close games.
Max Rieper: I think Bumgarner will dominate in Game One, but aside from that, its a very hittable staff. The Royals have fared very well against Jake Peavy in the past (4.97 ERA in 14 starts) and they handled Tim Hudson quite well back in August. Their bullpen had the third-best ERA in the National League, but the lowest strikeout-per nine innings ratio. Aside from Sergio Romo and Yusmeiro Petit, they don't have guys in the pen with great swing-and-miss stuff which plays right into the Royals late-inning strategy.
Josh Duggan: Madison Bumgarner's been great thus far this offseason (and obviously this year), and it's hard not to be afraid of him--there's a reason I'm targeting a non-Bumgarner start to make the arduous trek up there for Game Two. The Royals offense of late is mercurial to be sure, so anyone's guess as to whether they'll be dong-hanging fiends or run-manufacturing speedsters is as good as mine.
Kevin Ruprecht: Other than MadBum, the starters are very hittable. Jake Peavy has had an inconsistent season, Tim Hudson is overly reliant on groundballss, and Ryan Vogelsong is...Ryan Vogelsong.
Shaun Newkirk: It's kind of the same as the Royals no? There is a clear #1 on the team then there's the rest of the guys you are hoping by the sixth inning or so it's still a 3-run game or less. Bumgarner is my favorite pitcher in baseball (non-Kershaw division) so I expect him to blank us for a while tonight.
The Royals swept the Giants back in August, part of their hot streak to make the post-season. What, if anything, do you take from that series?
Josh Duggan: The Giants have their Belt, but they're down a Pagan. The Royals have Josh Willingham, Brandon Finnegan, Terrance Gore, and their three stud relievers available every day thanks to playoff scheduling and time off for good behavior. The Royals also got to face Tim Lincecum--no, he's not any good any more for those who haven't been paying attention--instead of Jake Peavy, while having the benefit of throwing Danny Duffy out there for one of the three games. Duffy appears to be unofficially on the DL. These teams are different.
Matthew LaMar: Nothing, other than thanks for the three wins, which were important.
Tyler Drenon: It's hard to come to any meaningful conclusions based on three games. Even if you could under normal circumstances, these aren't normal circumstances.
Joshua Ward: Little, if anything. The Royals were hot, the Giants were cold, Tim Lincecum won't be making a start in the Series, Bumgarner threw a complete game but lost on bad defense that has since been corrected. I'd be surprised if the Giants struggled like that again.
Max Rieper: I think that series proved to the Royals that they can play among the best. The team is already playing with sky-high confidence, but having already faced and defeated the Giants handily, they know they can win this series.
Kevin Ruprecht: I suppose that the Royals can impose their will on teams when they want. Nothing that hasn't already been proven in previous postseason series.
Shaun Newkirk: The Royals won 3 games from the Giants.
Bruce Bochy is a two-time champion and perhaps one of the more underrated managers in baseball. Ned Yost is undefeated this post-season. How do you see these managers impacting this series?
Tyler Drenon: Minimally, as usual.
Matthew LaMar: I think Yost is managing like he understands the stakes, finally. He's pretty much on autopilot, but Herrera's appearance in the sixth innings lately is a great sign. But if the players don't perform, it won't matter.
Josh Duggan: Clearly Yost is the greatest postseason manager ever. Game, set, match. Dunce.
Max Rieper: The way this post-season is going, Ned Yost will make a bone-headed decision that won't matter, and Bruce Bochy will panic and do something foolish to lose the game that will get all the attention instead.
Joshua Ward: Ned Yost will start the corpse of Omar Infante over a healthy Christian Colon, will bat Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer against left-handed pitching in crucial situations, and will probably start Jeremy Guthrie over a healthy Danny Duffy against a lineup riddled with left-handed batters/switch-hitters. At least all of these moves are nicely telegraphed, but Yost has already made four mistakes and the Series hasn't even started yet.
Bochy's impact I think is marginalized. Now that the pieces are in place, and roles have been more or less defined, he's got a bullpen to manage and that is about it.
Kevin Ruprecht: The most impact will be in bullpen management, probably. If the starters are good enough such that no other relievers besides the HDH trio have to come in, things will have gone well.
Shaun Newkirk: In a shocking turn of events, Bochy will call for more bunts than Nedrick.
What Giants player or players do the Royals most have to worry about in this series?
Joshua Ward: Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, and Hunter Pence spring to mind. Joe Panik and Angel Pagan are around somewhere. I mean, the Giants have nine players with a wRC+ of 102 or better. Madison Bumgarner is the best starting pitcher still playing meaningful games. There's a lot to watch out for.
Matthew LaMar: Posey, I think. Hits for average, walks, and has power. Plus, he's a good defender at an important position, and if he controls the Royals' running game that is a big issue.
Tyler Drenon: Formal Royals like Gregor Blanco and Jeremy Affeldt. Supernature might not have updated rosters.
Max Rieper: Bumgarner's start I think is huge. If he shuts down the Royals and wins that game for them, it gives the Giants home-field advantage and starts putting pressure on the Royals. I don't think the Royals have to worry about any one hitter in the Giants lineup, I'm sure someone will emerge to have a hot series - I can already ready stories about how Joe Panik plays the game the right way and beat the Royals at their own small-ball game.
Josh Duggan: Bumgarner and Buster Posey are obvious choices. Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, and Pablo Sandoval have to be considered carefully, too. Of course that means Joe Panik or some similarly boring player will have the Royals' number.
Kevin Ruprecht: Buster Posey. He has both the bat to hurt the Royals and the arm (potentially) to limit one of the team's strengths.
Shaun Newkirk: Only like 6 or 7 guys... Posey, Pence, Bumgarner, Belt, Sandoval, Crawford Blanco.
fWAR (hitting/defense side)
What is they key to the Royals winning this series?
Matthew LaMar: Scoring runs I'm very confident in their ability to win if they're ahead after 6 innings or nab a lead after 6. But they have to continue to score, as winning 2-1 is playing with fire.
Joshua Ward: Reclaim the base paths. Run on Posey a lot. Get the game to the 7th with a tie or a lead.
Max Rieper: Find a way to keep hitting the ball out of the ballpark. The Royals never get this far if they don't hit home runs.
Tyler Drenon: Solid starting pitching and inside-the-park-homers at AT&T Park.
Kevin Ruprecht: Starting pitching holding down the big thumpers (Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval).
Josh Duggan: Scoring more runs than the Giants. Seriously though, the rotation keeping the Giants offense in check.
Shaun Newkirk: Steal bases, and continue their ridiculous sequencing. Posey is an average catcher when it comes to throwing out runners and the Giants are an average defensive team.
Josh Duggan: I think the Royals will probably win in six, but since every other round I went in favor of the other team in the maximum amount of games, I'm going Giants in seven. Better to be wrong and happy than right and miserable, right?
Matthew LaMar: Royals in 4. Best postseason in the history of baseball.
Kevin Ruprecht: Royals in 6.5. There will be at least one extra inning game.
Joshua Ward: Royals in six. Wins in Games 2, 3, 5, and 6.
Tyler Drenon: Royals in four.
Max Rieper: Royals in seven in an epic World Series.
Shaun Newkirk: Still haven't picked the Royals to win a series so why start now? Giants in 7.
Game 1: Giants
Game 2: Royals
Game 3: Royals
Game 4: Giants
Game 5: Giants
Game 6: Royals
Game 7: Giants
What will you do when the Royals win it all?
Matthew LaMar: Freak out. Calm down. Freak out some more. Begin assisting with the Royals Review Plaza Parade Float.
Tyler Drenon: Wake up?
Kevin Ruprecht: I really hope not the same thing I've done with other postseason series, which was to overindulge in things and feel miserable later after feeling awesome. Eat ice cream, perhaps. Run through the streets naked...wait, what?
Josh Duggan: Light some candles. Draw a bath. Put on Sophie B. Hawkins. Place the toaster--well, you know how this goes...
Joshua Ward: Take a long vacation in my basement and watch game footage from the last season with a month-long supply of toaster pastries.
Max Rieper: Kiss Lee Judge on the mouth.
Shaun Newkirk: Starting writing articles about the offseason and prospects.