Saturday, October 18, 2014

Thoughts on the 2014 World Series: Position Matchups

The NLCS featured two very similar and closely matched teams and it played out that way.  Even though the outcome was not close in games won, each individual game was a dogfight down to the last out.  This year's World Series has more contrast.  Although the teams have many similarities, there are important differences make this matchup interesting in a different way.

The Giants are now a team of postseason veterans.  Guys who have done this before and know how to get it done.  The Royals are more like the Giants of 2010, the team that had not won in seemingly forever and who nobody expected to get very far in the postseason because, well, because they never had before!

With that in mind, lets break down the individual matchups by position:


Salvador Perez(Royals)- .260/.289/.403, 17 HR, -1.3 BsR, -6.5 Off, 16.6 Def, 3.3 fWAR, 606 PA.
Buster Posey(Giants)-     .311/.364/.490, 22 HR, -3.0 BsR, 26.8 Off, 7.0 Def, 5.7 fWAR, 605 PA.

Clear advantage for Buster and the Giants here, although Buster could have some problems with the KC running game.  That might fall more on the pitchers, though.

First Base:

Eric Hosmer(Royals)- .270/.318/.398, 9 HR, -5.6 BsR, -5.9 Off, -10.1 Def, 0.2 fWAR, 547 PA.
Brandon Belt(Giants)- .243/.306/.449, 12 HR, -2.4 BsR, 1.8 Off, -1.9 Def, 0.7 fWAR, 235 PA.

Hosmer has had a great postseason so far with some very timely hits and dingers, but Belt has had his moments too.  Project these lines to an equal number of PA's, the difference being mainly due to Belt's injuries, and it is not close.  Definite advantage Brandon Belt.  BTW, I think I did a smackdown comparing these two before the season started!  I think it was in a Fantasy Focus.

Second Base:

Omar Infante(Royals)- .252/.295/.337, 6 HR, 9 SB, 1.9 BsR, -13.7 Off, -0.4 Def, 0.5 fWAR, 575 PA.
Joe Panik(Giants)-        .305/.343/.368, 1 HR, 2.2 BsR, 4.6 Off, 1.9 Def, 1.6 fWAR, 287 PA.

So Panik's new nickname is Joe Chill?  Infante has the veteran savvy and occasional pop.  Panik has a clear advantage in BA and PA.  Again, normalize to equal PA's and the difference is more dramatic.  Advantage Joe Panik!

Third Base:

Mike Moustakas(Royals)- .212/.271/.361, 15 HR, 0.2 BsR, -12.8 Off, 4.6 Def, -0.9 fWAR, 500 PA.
Pablo Sandoval(Giants)-   .279/.324/.389, 16 HR, -4.7 BsR, 3.3 Off, 5.2 Def, 3.0 WAR, 638 PA.

Moose Tacos has hit a couple of big postseason HR's, but Pablo has been hot too.  Gotta give the clear advantage to The Panda here.


Alcides Escobar(Royals)- .285/.317/.377, 3 HR, 31 SB, 6.2 BsR, 2.4 Off, 9.0 Def, 3.5 fWAR, 620 PA
Brandon Crawford(Giants)- .246/.324/.389, 10 3B, 10 HR, -0.8 BsR, 0.4 Off, 7.5 Def, 2.7 fWAR, 564 PA

Not sure how a higher OBP and SLG% gets Crawford such a lower Off, but I'm just showing the numbers.  Escobar's big advantage is in speed/SB's.  Crawford has a little more pop in his bat.  We'll call this one even.

Left Field:

Alex Gordon(Royals)- .266/.351/.432, 19 HR, 12 SB, 5.9 BsR, 21.3 Off, 17.9 Def, 6.6 fWAR, 643 PA.
Travis Ishikawa(Giants)- .224/.333/.397, 2 HR, 0.4 BsR, 1.3 Off, 0.6 Def, 0.5 fWAR, 81 PA.

This may be closer than it looks.  Gordon is a good player, but his fWAR is inflated by a crazy Def in LF.  Travis is on the Road to Redemption this postseason and had really good numbers even before the walk-off HR.  Still, realistically, you've got to give the big advantage to Gordon here.

Center Field:

Lorenzo Cain(Royals)- .301/.339/.412, 5 HR, 28 SB, 5.3 BsR, 11.4 Off, 16.8 Def, 4.9 fWAR, 502 PA
Gregor Blanco(Giants)- .260/.333/.374, 5 HR, 16 SB, 0.1 BsR, 3.6 Off, 1.7 Def, 2.0 fWAR, 444 PA.

Cain has had a great postseason including come crazy good catches in CF, but Blanco has stepped up his defensive game in CF too.  Slight advantage Cain, although SB's could become a big issue for the Giants this series.

Right Field:

Norichika Aoki(Royals)- .285/.349/.360, 1 HR, 17 SB, -10 BsR, -7.7 Off, 0.2 Def, 1.1 fWAR, 549 PA
Hunter Pence(Giants)- .277/.332/.445, 20 HR, 13 SB, 7.0 BsR, 25.4 Off, -3.4 Def, 4.7 fWAR, 707 PA

Clear advantage Pence here.


Billy Butler(Royals)- .271/.323/.379, 9 HR, -5.7 BsR, -7.5 Off, -14.5 Def, -0.3 fWAR, 603 PA.
Michael Morse(Giants)- .279/.336/.475, 16 HR, -5.2 BsR, 12.8 Off, -18 Def, 1.0 fWAR, 482 PA.

Never thought I'd see the day when the Giants had the advantage at DH, but by golly, I think they've done it here with the perfect postseason role for Morse.  Of course, Brian Sabean had exactly this in mind when he signed Morse back in the spring!  LOL!

4'th OF:

Jarrod Dyson(Royals)- .269/.324/.327, 1 HR, 36 SB, 4.5 BsR, -0.1 Off, 18.9 Def, 3.1 fWAR, 290 PA

The Giants don't really have a counter for Dyson as the 4'th OF.  All 4 of their OF's can't play at once though.

The Royals have tremendous OF defense and a huge advantage in SB potential which could become a big problem for the Giants in this series.  Beyond that, the Giants seem to have a clear positional advantage at 6 of 9 positions here.  Interesting matchup!


  1. For me, the big job for Buster is going to be steadying the Giants pitchers and not letting the Royal running game distract them. It would be a very bad thing for pitchers to consistently shake to the fastball because they think they need to help Buster out, and trust him to handle junk in the dirt even when a wild pitch could mean two bases. The only pitcher that's especially inexperienced is Strickland and, well, that fastball is fast enough. I'm also hopeful that Buster will not hesitate to call as many pitchouts as needed.

  2. I'd also think that adding runs late in a game might be a good task for Blanco, Panik, plus Perez and Duffy. To be blunt, the Royals corner IF is really sad and can probably be exploited with good bunting. Last the Royals OF defense is really, really good, but... it's not as good as it looked in earlier rounds. The Giants don't feature the warning track power that figured into so many of the highlight reel plays; against a more line drive hitting club like SF the Royals OF defense will have fewer but tougher chances.

  3. The Royals have fo' sure flashed all their positives in the playoffs and the three regular season meetings with the Giants. The position breakdown gives me some hope. I think playing for the first time in ATT will present the Royals OF, especially RF, with a real challenge. IF corner defense has proven a game winning difference maker for the Giants over every club so far and it looks like it will continue against the Royals. Morse might just make the Giants traditional DH woes disappear.

    Certainly pressure points exist for both teams and that is how I am mainly looking at this match up:

    Royals: Speed, Shutdown pen, Solid starters, OF defense (except for ATT park RF), Deep/long lineup. The Royals can force the game, grab the lead and shut you down. Allow the Royals to get a head of steam and they will roll you.

    Giants: Team play, Shutdown pen, Solid starters with one ace, Overall team defense, Manager, National League rules. The Giants will out scrap you keeping games close, applying pressure, and taking advantage of any cracks. They have been there and thrive in winning tension filled playoff games.

    Giants must find a way to crack the Royals, which no one has found yet. Neutralize their speed, extend innings to wear down and score against their pen and out manage them especially under NL home park rules.

  4. I think the d rating on Gordon is for real. He's the best LF in baseball. Don't see much mocking of Moore's contract on that one. That's a clear advantage. CF is a clear advantage to me as well, Lorenzo Cain is on fire, and is breaking out big time. Injuries have held him back the past couple of years. Only in RF do the Giants counter well. Blanco's defense is awesome, he will answer for us, and Perez can counter at least on d for Dyson (who isn't that good a hitter but is usually utilized into the game as a pinch runner). How the OFs play is a huge story.

    Perez is our version of Panda (and they're close friends). He will look horrible for 5 at-bats and then... bam! Hacking hackers unite. Hosmer and Belt, that's a great comp, you did do some smackdown. Belt's stats don't tell much of the story with him. I think our defense up the middle is a tad better, but those guys are good.

    Posey definitely has his work cut out. Pitchers have to help him out. They're already doing pitching fielding drills, that's what's up!

    Morse as the DH - I put that up as a counterargument to all the snark in the FG hit piece. That might be a big difference maker, he wasn't quite right in the season series, he had a toenail injury.

    Also, as far as that season series... they won't have Lincecum to slap around, they got out to a 4 run lead in the finale, cruised. Another reason the playoffs are harder - teams generally avoid putting their weak links on the field. I do think Timmy has a role here, the Royals haven't seen him much obviously. But it depends a lot on how he is throwing currently. I bet Raggs/Gardner are working hard to get his mechanics straight.

    1. If Timmy is called upon in this series, that might not be a good thing.

    2. Yeah, I'm not sure why people are still clinging to the idea of Timmy being some kind of secret weapon for this team. Just the fact that he has yet to pitch one inning this postseason should be telling us something, and it's not that he's a secret weapon.

    3. Sure, his mechanics have been off. We have no idea how whisperin' the Gints are getting. The fact they're leaving him on tells us something as well. 2010 and especially 2012, the AL hitters who hadn't seen him much had issues. But obviously Petit is getting first wack at a long relief gig, and he has been nails so Bochy hasn't had to go to Plan B.

    4. I think Plan B will probably kick in about the time we get to inning 19 or are behind by 5 runs or more in the 3'rd inning. Could happen on both counts.

  5. Great rundown, but I've got to agree with Shank re CF. It's not even close. Cain runs the table, every category. Not to say that Blanco won't have a better series; he might.

    Got a gut feeling the layoff is going to affect the Royals more than the Giants. Give them time to think about where they're at. What they're doing. They roll right into the WS, not much time for that kind of thing.

    On the other hand, Giants might to feel the rest is an advantage. Prep a bit for the speed. And Posey has looked a bit worn down since the 18-inning game. Pitchers needed it, allowing both Madison to start the series and the double rest for our older starters.

    And more time to tweak the ultimate wild-card, Timmy.

    1. Aside from a higher BA and more SB's, where does Cain run the table here? I'm not seeing it. Not with Blanco stepping up his D in CF.

    2. Comments comparing me to Dave Cameron will get you run, as will putting words in my mouth. I never said Cain is not a good player or not the real deal.

      All I'm saying is if you upgrade Blanco's Def to reflect what he's done in CF in the postseason, and normalize for equal PA's, Cain's advantage comes down to BA and steals which may be a huge advantage, particularly the steals thing, but it also might be a lot closer than the 4.9 vs 2.0 WAR appears on the surface.

      For the record, I am counting CF as one of the 3 positions where the Royals have the positional matchup advantage.

    3. …er one of 3 positions where the Giants don't have the advantage. I think SS is about equal with LF and CF going to the Royals.

  6. Giants have a few intangibles going for them. One is odds, they are 8-0 in the playoffs and that won't last. The other is the Giants experience in the playoffs and their ability to stay calm. One thing I don't want them to do is to change their style too much to match the Royals. They need to play their game and they will do well.

  7. Tim Lincecum is done. I wish people would just accept this fact. The only scenarios I can see where he gets the ball are those where the game is out of reach or the Giants have used Petit for 4+ innings the prior day and again need a long man. This is not hate, it's just recognizing the facts. Indeed I'd love to see him throw the 7th or 8th as the Giants clinch by a massively lopsided score in a Game 5. Otherwise he's got to take the Full Whiteside.

    1. I never say never and never say always. Barry Zito seemed to be done several times and managed to come back and be a vital member of the 2012 team.

      Having said that, Timmy definitely seems to be on the steep part of the downward side of his career.