Kansas City Royals 2015 World Series Preview

The Kansas City Royals are making their second championship appearance in a row. Rick Rowand has our Kansas City Royals 2015 World Series preview in anticipation of their matchup with the New York Mets.

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Schedule

Game 1: Mets @ Royals 8 PM Tuesday 10/27

Game 2: Mets @ Royals 8 PM Wednesday 10/28

Game 3: Royals @ Mets 8 PM Friday 10/30

Game 4: Royals @ Mets 8 PM Saturday 10/31

Game 5: Royals @ Mets 8 PM Sunday 11/1*

Game 6: Mets @ Royals 8 PM Tuesday 11/3*

Game 7: Mets @ Royals 8 PM Wednesday 11/4*

All times are Eastern

*if necessary

Probable Starters

Game 1: Matt Harvey (R) (13-8 2.71) vs Edinson Volquez (R) (13-9)

Game 2: Jacob deGrom (R) (14-8 2.54) vs Johnny Cueto (R) (11-13)

Game 3: Yordano Ventura (R) (13-8) vs Noah Syndergaard (R) (9-7 3.24)

Game 4: Chris Young (R) (11-6) vs Steven Matz (L) (4-0 2.27)[/box]

Season Recap

The Royals finished the regular season with the best record in the AL, 95-67, and the second best record in MLB, behind the Cardinals, who finished at 100-62. They were sixth in the AL in runs scored with 724 and 14th in homers with 139. Only the White Sox hit less with 136.

As a team, the Royals had a slash line of .269/.322/.412. Their .322 OBP is a little surprising since they had the lowest BB% in MLB at 6.3%. But they also had the lowest K% in MLB, 15.9%. They were the leader in the league in steals with 102. Add all of this together and you have a team that puts the ball in play and gets on base by hitting the ball to all fields. Manager Ned Yost has them playing station-to-station baseball and creating havoc on the basepaths with their speed.

The Royals were also excellent on defense, with almost all of their players rating average to very good in the Tango Fans Scouting Report.  The four Royals with the highest grades were LF Alex Gordon, CF Lorenzo Cain, SS Alcides Escobar and 1B Eric Hosmer.

The starters had a record of 65-53 with an ERA of 4.34, a FIP of 4.32, and a xFIP of 4.48. Overall, they held opponents to a BAA of .266 with a WHIP of 1.37 while having a K% and a BB% of 16.8% and 7.6%, respectively.

The bullpen had a 30-14 record, with 56 saves, 79 holds and 20 blown saves in 539 1/3 innings pitched. They had K/9 and BB/9 rates of 8.38 and 3.19, respectively. They had a HR/9 rate of .80 and lead the league with a BAA of 211. Their BABIP was .258 and led the league.

The Hitters at a Glance

Catcher – Salvador Perez (R/R) is the primary catcher and played in 142 games. He hit .260/.280/.426 with 21 homers. He had a BB% and a K% of 2.4% and 14.8% respectively, with a BABIP of .270. He was 29/66 CS/SB and only had four passed balls.

First Base – Eric Hosmer (L/L) played in 158 games this season hitting .297/.363/.459 with 18 home runs. His BB% was 9.1% and his K% was 16.2% with a BABIP of .336.

Second Base – Utility player and switch hitter, Ben Zobrist (S/R) was acquired by the Royals from Oakland shortly before the trading deadline and has played primarily second for them since the end of August. In 126 games he hit .276/.359/.450 with 13 homers. His BB% and K% are 11.6% and 10.5%. He had a BABIP of .288.

Shortstop – Alcides Escobar (R/R) is known more for his glove than his bat and hit just .257/.293/.320 with three home runs. He rarely walks with a BB% of just 3.9% and a K% of 12.8%. His BABIP was .284.

Third Base – Mike Moustakas (L/R) is one of the Royals power hitters with a line of .284/.348/.470 and 22 home runs. His BB% was 7%. His K% was 12.4% with a BABIP of .294.

Left Field – In 104 games, Alex Gordon (L/R) hit .271/.377/.432 with 13 homeruns. His BB% was high for the Royals at 11.6%. His K% was also high at 21.8%. He had a BABIP of .327.

Center Field – Lorenzo Cain (R/R) played in 140 games and hit .307/.361/.477 with 16 homers and 28 stolen bases. His BB% and K% were 6.1% and 16.2% and his BABIP was .347 all while playing very good defense.

Right Field – Alex Rios (R/R) played 105 games hitting .255/.287/.353 with four homers and a BABIP of .294. His BB% and K% were 3.6% and 16.3%.

Other OFs – Jarrod Dyson (L/R) was the primary backup in left and center while also getting some time in right. He played in 90 games, hitting .250/.311/.380 with two homers and a BABIP of .296. His BB% and K% were 6.2% and 16.4% respectively.

Paulo Orlando (R/R) was the primary backup in right playing in 86 games and hitting .249/.269/.444 with seven homers and a BABIP of .291. He walked 2% of the time while striking out 21.1% of the time.

DH – Kendrys Morales (S/R) appeared in 158 games this season hitting .290/.362/.485 with 22 homers. His BABIP was .319. He walked 9.1% of the time and struck out at a 17.1% clip.

Starting Pitching

Edinson Volquez started 33 games, posting a 13-9 record with a 3.55 ERA, a 3.82 FIP, and a 4.26 xFIP. In 200 ⅓ innings he had a K/9 of 6.96 and a BB/9 of 3.23, with a WHIP of 1.31 and a BAA of 2.47.

He’s started three games in the postseason and has a 1-2  record with an ERA of 4.32 and a BAA of .179 in 16 ⅔ innings.

He features a sinker (44%) that he throws at 94-mph, a change (25%) – with about 9-mph of separation between the two –  a curve (24%) and a four seam FB (7%) that comes in around 95-mph.

In the regular season, Johnny Cueto posted an 11-13 record in 32 starts with an ERA of 3.44, a FIP of 3.55 and a xFIP of 3.78. His go-to pitch is his four-seam fastball (34%), followed by his sinker (20%) and slider (18%). He’ll also throw a changeup (13%) and a cutter (12%) with a rare curve. His FB and sinker are thrown in the 93-mph range.

Cueto pitched in Games 2 and 5 of the ALDS. In the first game he wasn’t sharp giving up four runs in the first three innings. He settled down after that and left the game after six innings allowing four runs on seven hits, three walks with five strikeouts.

In Game 5, Cueto pitched very well allowing just two earned runs in eight innings on two hits with eight strikeouts.

In his one start in the ALCS he lasted just two innings, allowing 8 earned runs and frankly, didn’t look like he wanted to be out there.

Yordano Ventura has a 13-8 regular season record, with a 4.08 ERA, 3.57 FIP, and 3.50 xFIP in 28 starts in the regular season. He features a four-seam FB (37%), curve (24%), sinker  (21%), change (15%), along with the occasional cutter. He’s a power pitcher, throwing both his FB and sinker at 96+ MPH.

His start in Game 1 of the ALDS is one he’d like to forget. He lasted just two innings, coughing up up four hits and three earned runs. In Game 4 he lasted five innings, giving up three earned runs and didn’t factor in the decision. Overall in the postseason he has started four games and has a 5.09 ERA with a .278 BBA in 17 ⅔ innings.

Chris Young is the only other listed starter that has started a game in the postseason this year in addition to one relief outing. In 8 ⅔ innings he has an ERA of 3.12 and a BAA of .200

Young compiled an 11-6 record in 34 games, 18 of them starts. He had an ERA of 3.06, a FIP of 4.52 and an xFIP of 5.33.

He relies on two pitches: the four-seam fastball (58%) and the slider (40%). The fastball is not overwhelming, clocking in at 87-mph. He’ll also throw the occasional change and curve.

The Bullpen

Wade Davis took over the role of closer from Greg Holland late in the season after it was discovered that Holland had suffered a tear in his UCL. He has a record of 8-1 with 17 saves and an ERA of 0.94 in 69 appearances. His K/9 is 10.43 and his BB/9 is 2.67. Teams hit .143 against him. Davis features a four-seam FB (52%), a cutter (29%) and a curve (18%). His FB registers at approximately 96-mph.

Kelvin Herrera is a flamethrower with both his four seam (43%) and sinker (32%) in the 98-mph range. He throws an occasional change (16%) at around 90-mph along with a rare slider, curve and cutter. He has K/9 and BB/9 rates of 8.27 and 3.36. Teams hit .202 against him.

Ryan Madson slows things down a bit, throwing his four-seam (31%) and sinker (20%) in the 94-mph range. His changeup (29%) has about 10-mph of separation. He also throws a cutter about 20% of the time. His K/9 was 8.24 and his BB/9 was 1.99 and teams hit .203 against him. I’m beginning to sense a pattern here.

Franklin Morales’ primary pitch is his sinker (38%) followed by his cutter (30%) followed by his four -seam (23%) and curve (89%). His sinker and four-seam are around 93-mph and his cutter sits at 89-mph. His K/9 ands BB/9 are 5.92 and 2.02. His BAA is .242

Luke Hochevar comes at the hitter with three pitches. The four seam (41%), the cutter (40%) and the curve (19%). His fastball is in the 95-mph range. His K/9 and BB/9 are 8.70 and 2.84. Teams hit .249 against him.

The two teams they defeated in the postseason, the Astros in the ALDS and the Blue Jays in the ALCS, both relied heavily on the home run, #1 and #2 in the league respectively, to score runs. The Royals relied on timely situational hitting and speed on the basepaths to create runs and above average defense and pitching to shut down the opposition all season and into the postseason. That combination has earned them their second trip to the World Series in as many years. The approach the Royals take on offense should match up well against the arms the Mets have, and their experience from last year should help them as should home field advantage.

Rick Rowand has written about the value of Brock Holt, Boston’s rotationBrock Holt’s cycle and aura, and a series about Bogaerts, Betts and Swihart, a screenplay of Napoli’s last days on the Sox, Travis Shaw, what to do with Hanley Ramirez, and Kim Ng.

Follow Rick on Twitter @rrowand.

Check out Pete Hodges’ New York Mets World Series preview and our Championship Series recaps.

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