Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Thoughts on the 2014 World Series: Keys to a Giants Victory

The keys to the Giants winning the 2014 World Series are not a lot different than for the Wild Card game, the NLDS and NLCS.   After all, winning baseball games has had about the same formula for over 100 years with a few adjustments along the way.  This World Series finds the Giants in a bit of a role reversal from 2010 and 2012.  They are the grizzled veterans who have been here before and know how to get it done.  The Royals are the team of young kids playing for an organization that has been mostly in last place for almost 30 seasons.  With the Giants, it's become, "oh, the Giants!  Yeah, we don't know how they are doing it, but they've done it enough by now that they must know something we don't."  The Royals are the team nobody expected to be here.

So, what are the keys to winning the 2014 World Series for the Giants?

1.  Starting Pitching.  While everybody is focused on the bullpens right now, they may not be the deciding factor.  Both teams have crazy good records in games where they have the lead, any lead, by the 7'th inning.  Most of these games will likely be decided by the time the bullpens swing into action.  Despite James Shields' "Big Game" nickname, Bumgarner looks better on paper, and actually deserves the Big Game label  more than Shields.   Can "Big Country"keep it rolling for another game or two?  He does and he cements a place in the history books as one of the great postseason pitchers in baseball history.  I'm also going to say that Peavy finds a sway to out-savvy the fireballing Yordano Ventura who was a bit shaky and seemed on the verge of an injury in his last start.  I'll call Huddy vs Vargas and Vogey vs Guthrie even-steven.

One more thought about the starting pitching:  Someone mentioned a nice Fangraphs article comparing and contrasting pitching and hitting styles for the two teams.  The Royals pitchers like to throw fastballs and the Giants hitters like hitting fastballs.  The Giants pitchers like to throw breaking balls and offspeed stuff and the Royals hitters don't like breaking stuff.  Of course that does not tell you much about the relative likes and dislikes of both teams against THESE fastballs and breaking balls, but it's an interesting statistical tidbit, the kind that was not available to us in past Fall Classics.

2.  Be Aggressive at the Plate.  This may be one situation where it might make sense to ditch conventional wisdom and not try to grind out AB's or run up pitch counts.  So you get the starter out of there after 5 innings instead of 7.  All you've accomplished is giving yourself 2 more innings against better pitching!  Take advantage of the Royals fastball tendency.  Go up there looking for a fastball to hit early in the count and jump on it!

3.  Control the Running Game.  This could be the Giants Achilles heel as the Royals like to run wild on the bases(they even have a guy on the roster who does nothing but pinch run!), and the Giants have had their struggles throwing out baserunners.  Most of that falls on the pitchers who tend to be slow to the plate.  I will say the 7 SB's against the Giants in the 3 game August series is a bit misleading in that 5 of them were against Tim Lincecum and he might not pitch even one inning this series.  I would also point out the Giants are right at league average in CS%.  The best way to shut down a running game is to not let the rabbits get on base.  You can't steal first base!

4.  Top of the Order.  As always, the top of the order has to get on base.  Get those KC pitchers into the stretch early and set the table for the middle of the order.  Panik, in particular, should thrive on the fastballs he should see from the Royals.  Blanco might want to think about putting some defensive pressure on the corner IF's with a bunt here and there.

5.  Hit a Few Dingers!  OF defense doesn't do much good against balls that leave the park.  Can't be up there just swinging for the fences, but Posey, Pablo, Pence, Belt and Morse need to come through with a dinger here and there to keep em honest.

6. Playing for History.  The Giants seem to want to win for each other and the simple joy of competing and winning.  I think bigger things might be on the minds of some of the players.  Peavy has already brought up talk of Bruce Bochy being a HOF manager.  3 WS championships in 5 seasons is an impressive and historic run.  Only one other franchise in baseball history has done it, the Cardinals of the early 1940's during WWII.  The Giants have a chance to be a team baseball historians study and refer to for a long time.  3 championships in 5 seasons should make Bruce Bochy a slam dunk for the HOF and should get Brian Sabean there too.

What are your Keys to Winning the 2014 World Series for the Giants?


  1. We gotta win the SP matchup. That's our only clear advantage on the field. Manager is the other. We have to Score early. And no bad fielding bc they speed will hurt us.

  2. That record where the Giants had a lead by 7 includes a stretch where Romo was quite himself. Thankfully, he has recovered nicely.

    Good point about being aggressive. I think we go aggressive against their starters. I mentioned patience yesterday. I was looking at their relievers' numbers - except one, each comp DocB had, the Royal had a higher BB/9.

  3. Pence mentioned Blanco talking constantly playing defense in the outfield.

    There was something written about Flannery talking with Crawford on a similar play the Cardinal failed to make in the last series.

    Morse himself or something suggested that he worked against sidearm throwing and he did.

    I read Buster talking with Morse about just 'touching' the ball.

    All these suggest we have a close team - chemistry, take that Billy Beane - and there is a lot of preparation going on that we don't see and the tremendous contribution of our coaching staff and advance scouts, in addition to the efforts by the players we see on the field.

  4. The speedy Royals stole 153 bases this year. Well, the Dodgers stole 138, which isn't so wildly different. We played the Dodgers pretty well, and when we lost to them it was because of their pitching, Kershaw and Greinke, rather than because they drove us crazy with bunts and steals. Looks to me like we can deal just as well with the Royals, where the starting pitching and the hitting are not as good as what the Dodgers have.

  5. Overall: I see this as a pressure point series. Not about who makes the least mistakes (that was the STL series). The Royals are designed to put pressure on you - speed, fire balling shutdown pen, OF/SS defense, long/deep lineup, aggressive/fearless manager. Let them get up to speed and they will roll you - 8-0, so far. The Giants must handle the pressure.

    My Keys:

    1A++. Get to their starting pitching! Period. As DocB pointed out above sit FB, hit FB.

    2. Match their bullpen. The Giants don't have to be better, to neutralize the KC studs.

    3. Match their defense. Yes, the Royals OF and SS defense will takeaway Giants hits (except vs Pence in RF at ATT). The Giants must takeaway Royals hits at 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, CF and RF. I expect the Giants to do so.

    4. The Giants will not control the Royals running game. But they must slow it down and survive it. The Royals will apply pain here and Giants/Posey will look bad at times. Don't get your dobber down, stay composed and keep your Rags Magic Slide Step potion handy. Really this could get ugly and the Giants, while bending, must not break.

    5. Apply Giants brand of pressure. Led by MadBum, Giants starters must throw shutdown innings while the pen keeps the lid on tight. Pressure their corner IF, Moose Tacos and Hosmer are poor defenders. Unleash our Moose at DH and let the lineup be long, deep, and dinger dangerous against their starters.

    Bonus Point. NL rules means Royals pitchers must hit, and they can't keep their bullpen guys in for two innings stretches without some of them hitting too.

    Don't let the Royals become a Royals pain. Go Giants!!!

  6. Oh, and I don't like the Royals Bay Area mojo with Yost and three of his coaches from here. No stealing our mojo, Yost!

  7. Excellent points all - especially Monty's above.

    Let's win for Huddy & the HoF! Let's Go Giants!!!


  8. Small Correction, but the Yankees won 4 WS titles in 5 years, and 3 consecutive; The RedSox did it in '15, '16 and '18 as well. However, those are some storied franchises, and doesn't do a thing to diminish the point about the historical epoch the Giants are striving to create right now.

    The moves this year by Brian Sabean - though they're getting some press - cannot be over stated.

    Tim Hudson - Was an absolute lock for wins early in the season to get the team rolling. Has been extremely solid through the year, and with excess rest has everything needed to keep good teams off balance all night. (I'll just add that the look and beam of Hudson's face on the far side of the Ishikawa scrum at home plate was one of my favorite moments of this year. Guy has had an amazing career, and I'm so proud that the Orange & Black is the team to carry him to the promised land!)

    Peavy - WOW. Sabean was called out both locally and nationally for this "ppffftt" of a move, and it turned right around into MARCO SCUTARO Part DEX!! As we know, the impact of Peavy has been equally as prolific both off the field as well as on it, and I have a feeling we're going to get another few years of this guy's awesomeness come time to hand out contracts.

    Michael Morse - Perfect case of knowing what the team need is, and finding a guy who not only fits it, but is DYING to play for your squad in particular. Morse was the perfect fit in SF, and it's been a joy to watch the guy who has clearly found home after many years of looking. Morse's humor, joviality and little-boy-type love for the game are classic SF, and his bat was one of the most enjoyable parts of the Giants' early run. If he's fully healthy to step in as the DH - Oh Billy!!! This could be fun to watch.

    Travis Ishikawa - I mean. Just, wow. Who knew? Did Sabean even know??!! I'll say just this - when the SF front office drafts and develops a guy, they don't forget about him.

    Joe Panik & Susac - The former was derided as a 1st round pick, and the latter was lauded and later forgotten - and both are going to be steadfast contributors as starting players to this team, at a very high level I believe, for a very long time. Sabean may not have been the scout on the scene, but he's put together a helluva front office who makes coups like this Routinely!!

    So there we have it.. Sabean personally molded this team to his own image, not those of the national writers and critics, and not only created a winner with the potential to sit atop the modern standards of greatness, but in that process has changed the way that other GMs approach the game (!) by emphasizing undervalued stats and "secondary elements" such as the bullpen, and ever-true elements such as starting pitching and defense. (Dr. B, I thank you for being one of the voices pointing to the trends that our FO has been quietly installing into the system over time, such as K/BB and once-1st-round-projections-dropped-down-the-board-for-various-reasons draft picks. You've done a hulluva job here putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and it's something I enjoy far more than should be rationally possible.)

    As someone who will forever appreciate that the Giants were the ones who shelled out for the Posey Signing Bonus, took the chance on a 5'10 fireballer, found two undervalued gems named Brandon, and insisted on paying out for our greatest home grown and trade-acquired players - Sabean has long been on my good-guy list. But the way it is now, I'm really considering putting a statue of his likeness to right of my driveway in the front yard. That guy deserves loads of credit, and will probably never see the love he deserves - which he doesn't give a damn hoot about....yet another reason I love the guy.

    1. Thank you for the kind words, Rainball. It is so much fun to write this almost every day, I'd do it if nobody read it, but having someone like you tell me how much you enjoy it makes it a double pleasure.

      Great rant in a positive way.

      Just to give some credit where it is due, I believe ogc figured out that Sabean was doing some things right before I did and there are a few others like Shankbone and Covechatter who have been beating the same drum for awhile now.

      If I've been able to explain it in a way that makes the puzzle pieces fall into place, well, that's what I hoped for when I started this thing, so thank you again.

    2. Also, again, minor, A's also won 3 straight WS, 72-74 I believe.

    3. Maybe I didn't word it right, but I meant winning every other year for 5 years. Cards in the early 1940's are the only team to accomplish it so far.

    4. Yup! Very right Doc, having Shankbone, OGC, Covechatter, SteveS, MontereyShark, Bacci, Roger (?) and the ever-philosophical BLSL here all the time is a big part of what has made this blog so much fun. Big time props all around, the conversations here are the best on the interwebz and the input of those regular posters and a few more who I'm forgetting are the high-quality ingredients that make this soup so good!!


      Onward to GAME 2!!!!

  9. Well, game 1 went according to script. 1 down, 3 to go.

    1. it was mentioned that the way to beat the kc d is to dump it to the mid of....but dang, panik smacked the heck out of that triple

      wonder who will be the first hack to blame the kc loss on their layoff....cuz you know its gonna happen


  10. Once again, I think you guys called it. Time off plus rookie vs veteran playoff experience all came thru tonight. Aside from Crawford's error, the vets played with poise. Nice to see Panda & Pence put the pressure on early and often. And our big horse ace coming thru once again...especially with runners on 2nd & 3rd! Bests Bob Gibson for WS road ERA - HoF material if there ever was one. Peavy is the next up tomorrow - I think he takes the rook - Drysdale to Maddy's Gibson act. Tough guy after tough guy. Love it. If nothing else, the lads shake up the AL home field advantage. Totally buy into the NL edge when the DH goes away for games 3-5 (if needed).

    It's sophomoric, but I called for the 2010-2012-2014 cycle back in ST...no WAR, no FIPS, no saber mumbo jumbo...just gut feel like in 2010 & 2012. Let's Go Giants!