World Series 2015 pick: Will Royals' all-around excellence be enough to beat Mets?
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Mets have been relentless in October. Every time the Cubs made a mistake during the NLCS — in the field or at the plate, the Mets were there to capitalize. It was a clinic, really. A thing of beauty for Mets fans, an endless source of frustrations for those who bleed Cubbie blue. To win the World Series, the Royals will have to avoid creating those opportunities. The thing is, they’re pretty good at limiting mistakes. That’s huge in the World Series. WORLD SERIES 2015: Spector’s pick | Updated odds | Royals-Mets visual history The Royals are above-average defensively around the diamond (even Alex Rios was fifth among right fielders with an UZR/150 of 5.9 this season). At the plate, they don’t strike out much at all — their team strikeout percentage of 15.9 percent during the regular season was lowest in the majors, by a long shot (next was at 18.1 percent). Their lineup is incredibly deep. Alex Gordon, a potential free agent this offseason who could land a contract with a total value reaching $100 million or more, hits eighth in the Kansas City lineup. “That’s a tough guy to face, when he’s in the eight-hole,” Toronto ace David Price said after Gordon beat him with a key Game 2 hit in the ALCS. “He’s not an eight-hole hitter.”Their bullpen is outstanding, with a lock-down closer in Wade Davis capable of getting six outs if he needs to get six outs (and manager Ned Yost might be more apt to do that after Ryan Madson’s hiccup in Game 6 of the ALCS) and flamethrower Kelvin Herrera available for high-leverage spots in the seventh or eighth innings. Sure, there’s pressure on the Kansas City starting pitchers. We’ve seen their brilliance — remember Johnny Cueto’s Game 5 start of the ALDS? — and we’ve seen their basement — Cueto’s ALCS start in Toronto stands out. They’ll have to be borderline brilliant to handle a Mets lineup that’s become better than any Mets fan could have reasonably hoped for when the playoffs started. That could absolutely happen. Game 1 starter Edinson Volquez has added life to his fastball, which was touching 97 and 98 mph during the ALCS. Yordano Ventura still has the potential to shut down any team on any given night, and his ability to harness his emotions on the mound will be huge for the Royals. It’s a lot to ask for, sure. WORLD SERIES 2015: Classic Fall Classic programsBut how many times since the start of last year’s playoffs have we overlooked the Royals because they don’t have the extremes—the Cy Young contender or the MVP contender or the lineup with six 20-homer guys? Pretty much every series, right? That stops now. They’ve won five of their six playoff series over the past two seasons, and the one they lost—to the Giants in the World Series—went seven full games. That’s not a fluke. The Royals play excellent baseball,