The Royals will meet the Mets in the World Series
Kansas City will get a chance to meet the Mets.
The Royals defeated the Blue Jays 4-3 in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night at Kauffman Stadium to win their second consecutive American League pennant.
The Royals lost to the Giants in the 2014 World Series in their first playoff appearance sine 1985 when they defeated the Cardinals in the World Series.
The Mets are going to have their work cutout for them against the Royals in the World Series, as they have a very creative offense which doesn’t rely on a lot of power to score their runs.
Here’s a look at the Royals ahead of the World Series…
This is a very aggressive offense that swings at a lot of pitches, even those out of the strike zone. They only saw 3.71 pitches per plate appearance in 2015, the lowest rate in the game in 2015. They had a very high 48.3 percent swing rate and swung at 33.3 percent of the pitches they saw outside the strike zone. They were last in the league with a 6.3 percent walk rate, and 24th in home runs.
But that aggressive style most certainly worked for them. And unlike the Cubs, the Royals aggressiveness didn’t hinder their ability to hit hard fastballs, either.
They don’t strike out very much – they had the best strikeout rate in the game at 15.9 percent in 2015, the third best team batting average at .269, and the best contact rate of any team in baseball in 2015 at 81.9 percent. They were 11th best team on-base percentage at .322, tenth best OPS at .734.
This is also a fast and aggressive team on the bases. They had the fifth-most stolen bases in the league with 104. They’re an excellent first-to-third club and their 75.3 percent stolen base rate was the fourth best in baseball as well.
The acquisition of Ben Zobrist at the trade deadline only helped support their team philosophy at the plate, as he’s a switch hitter who makes a lot of contact, smoked left-handed pitching and hit very well at Kauffman Stadium upon being traded to the Royals.
But this also doesn’t mean this team can’t hit home runs.
They had three players with 20 or more home runs, and five with 15 or more home runs, led by Kendrys Morales who hit 22 home runs and drove in 106 runs as the club’s designated hitter. It will be interesting to see how much he plays at Citi Field when the designated hitter is not in play, but he would unquestionably be a tremendous switch-hitting power threat off the bench for Ned Yost late in games.
They are also excellent in the clutch. They hit .282 with runners in scoring position in 2015, the second-best mark in the game. They also hit .278 with two outs and runners in scoring position.
They’re a pesky, stressful offense who can wear down a pitcher thanks to their ability to foul tough pitches off and stay in at-bats, which help them to force mistakes as a result.
And they’re a very, very good fastball-hitting team despite their aggressiveness.
The Mets could be spending a lot of time pitching backwards and try to get ahead in counts with their off-speed pitches, especially early in the series when they’re facing the Mets young power pitchers for the first time.
Their starting pitching could be their point of vulnerability, however.
They didn’t give up a lot of home runs but had the 22nd best ERA at 4.34, threw the sixth-fewest innings with 912 2/3, had the fifth-worst strikeout rate at 6.49 per nine innings, had the sixth highest walk rate at 2.94 per nine innings.
Johnny Cueto has been largely ineffective since being acquired, and the Mets had historically handled him during his time with the Reds – he has a 4.02 lifetime ERA against the Mets. Edinson Volquez had a good year with 13 wins and a 3.55 ERA, and he suddenly found a 97-98 mph fastball during the playoffs too. It wasn’t an easy year or Yordano Ventura who struggled early and found himself in the minor leagues at one point. He throws incredibly hard but can be very erratic, which helped contribute to a general in ability to pitch deep into games.
Their best starting pitcher was actually former Met Chris Young, who continues to deceive opposing hitters with his long stride, awkward delivery and a bevy of soft stuff above the belt. As was the case when he was with the Mets, Young dominated right-handed hitters to the tune of a .159 average, so it can be expected that Terry Collins will stack the lineup with left-handed hitters when they encounter him.
But knocking the starter out of the game doesn’t necessarily lead to good fortunes.
As was the case in 2014, the Royals bullpen was lockdown good, posting the best ERA in the American League at 2.72, although thanks to their lackluster starting pitching, they threw the fifth-most innings of any bullpen in the game in 2015 with 539 1/3 innings.
The Royals were 74-6 when leading after six innings, 73-3 when leading after seven innings, and 82-1 when leading after eight innings.
Again, their bullpen is lights out good.
The key for the Mets will be to get to Kansas City’s starting pitching early, take advantage of run scoring opportunities and avoid putting the game in the hands of that bullpen, which is incredible and essentially a steel wall late in games. Yes, they are without their star closer in Greg Holland, but Wade Davis is also as good as it gets and they have an outstanding cast of late-inning relievers in Ryan Madsen, Kelvin Herrera, Danny Duffy, Franklin Morales.
They’re a well built, solid, and clutch hitting team. If the Mets are going to win this series, they’re going to need their starting pitching to continue to pitch at the level it has, capitalize on the Royals weak starting staff and not let the game get into Kansas City’s bullpen with a lead.
But they’re capable of doing all of that and winning this series, as they’ve shown throughout the playoffs. It probably won’t be easy, however.
There’s an added bit of intrigue to this series, in that these two clubs will open the 2016 regular season with a two-game set at Kauffman Stadium next April. Will the Royals be raising a championship flag in the Mets faces, or will they simply be celebrating an American League Championship, with the World Champions on-hand?
Welcome to the World Series.