Monday, November 2, 2015

Royals World Championship Links Roundup


The Kansas City Royals are World Champions. The feeling is indescribable. I did nothing but read recaps at work today, and really wanted to archive these, so why the hell not share them with the best fans in baseball. I present to you, the Royals World Championship Edition of Links Roundup:


- It's been just as much a pleasure to read Andy McCullough this season as it has been following the Champs. Here's his recap of the last win of 2015.



- Jeff Sullivan tells just how clutch these Royals were, historically speaking.

- Where's your team rank on Matthew Kory's 'Royalsy-est Teams in MLB' list?


- Excellent piece on how far the Royals' core has come and the faith of the organization to stick with them by Eno Sarris

- More from Jeff Sullivan, as he explores what exactly made this team so fun for Royals fans to root for.

- Here's the Royals win expectancy in their clinching Game 5 victory. The stuff legends are made of:




- Alex Skillin says, despite what the critics say, the Royals are indeed a Sabremetric team for the always awesome Hardball Times.


- Great Twitter reaction roundup of wild and crazy Royals fans right after Game 5 went final.


- Adrenaline-fueled Game 5 wrap from a cannot-contain-himself Ryan Landreth. F'n love it! Go Royals!




- Buster Olney highlights what makes Dayton Moore different, and how his team reflects the community.





- The whole epic story, from front office down to final out, chronicled by the fantastic Jeff Passan.


- The resilient Royals are one of a kind, says Jon Heyman.


- Sal Perez wins World Series MVP!

Rany Jazayerli

- For ESPN (so long, Grantland. You will be dearly missed), Rany tells his story of the 2015 Royals and what they mean to fans who've been waiting a generation for their crowning achievement.

I'll do my best to continue to update this as I keep finding more and more good stuff out there. I'll also get my own thoughts down in a separate post one of these days when this all sets in. Still reeling, still riding high. Go Royals!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mets gonna Mets, Royals gonna Royal


This Royals team just will not cease to amaze.

In the top of the 8th inning, down a run after struggling to find their rhythm at the plate all night, the team we've been rooting on for 14 months now showed up to the tune of two walks, two singles and three runs due in part to one colossal error.

It's what the Royals do.

Well, the error, committed by star second baseman Daniel Murphy at just the wrong time, was kind of what the Mets do.

But, it was still with contact that Kansas City took a two-run, 5-3 lead in what may prove to be the decisive inning in this fantastic World Series.

To add a Halloween spook to Royals fans everywhere, manager Ned Yost trotted out closer Wade Davis to follow up the big inning to get six outs- a move that's highly called for in the advanced stats community. And also something he's not known for as a very rigid bullpen and lineup manager.

Davis skimmed through a clean 8th, but then was scheduled to bat 2nd in the top of the ninth. He predictably didn't lift the bat off his shoulder. Thank goodness.

But Game 4 began very differently for both teams. Mets starter Steven Matz, making just his 9th big league start, looked good through four innings, allowing just two hits and striking out five.

The Mets' offense had also seemed to have carried over some momentum from last night's nine-run, 12-hit outburst. Rookie left fielder Michael Conforto hit the first of two solo homers in the third, a towering fly down the right field line, that was followed up by a sac fly scoring Wilmer Flores after Royals right fielder Alex Rios forgot there was only one out left in the inning and delayed his throw home. 

Quick aside- read that again. It's the World Series, not little league. Please don't forget how many outs there are in a World Series game, Alex Rios. Thank you.

The Royals scratched a run together in the top of the fifth when Alex Gordon singled home a limping Salvador Perez, who doubled just before.

But New York then celebrated again in the bottom of the fifth after Conforto's second big fly coasted over the right-center wall to expand the Mets' lead to 3-1.

Then it was Kansas City's turn to steal the spotlight one more time. The top of the eighth came around, and once more the Royals found themselves turning a less-than-20-percent win probability into yet another playoff victory. It's so improbably probable nowadays. The Royals cannot be killed.

And the Mets gave them their best shot in the bottom of the ninth. After Game 3 hero David Wright struck out to begin the frame, the Mets' goat Daniel Murphy rapped an infield single to third and Yeonis Cespedes stroked a clean single to right a few pitches later. With one out they were in business with Lucas Duda at the plate and the ball carrying out to right field.

But, as only the Mets could do, and as had happened just the inning prior, a star player committed an egregious gaffe that ended the game. Duda hit a soft liner to third baseman Mike Moustakas and Cespedes was inexplicably caught off the bag for a game- (and likely -Series) ending double-play. Cannot make this up. Just a bonehead play.

And just like that, the Mets went from five outs from tying the Series to a devastating 3-1 deficit. And the Royals are just one game away, continuing to do their thing in the face of adversity. It's an incredible team doing incredible things at the most incredible of moments.

The only trick remaining is getting the best of the Dark Knight in Gotham.


Where have you gone, regular season Lorenzo Cain?

Today, we're going to take a look at one troubling World Series trend that has to turn around if the Royals are going to finish this season with a win. It's a trend I'll call the only key to Game 4 for Kansas City, for the Mets and for the remainder of the Series. It's a permanent 'what to watch for'.

But first, let's just get the official Career Year stance on Syndergaard's first pitch and all the fallout after the game out of the way. I don't mind the pitch. If the Royals went on to win it'd be nothing more than a footnote. It's a baseball play. As for the Royals' reaction after the game, it was a rather tired. So were Syndergaard's tough-guy remarks. My hope is this doesn't get anymore overblown than it already has and start affecting the Series negatively, be it getting into the heads of either team or the umpires. It's been a great Fall Classic thus far, let's keep it that way.

We all know by now that the Royals make contact and the Mets can pitch. The first game was a little bizarro version of both teams, with each seemingly playing the other's part until Alex Gordon's ninth-inning homer (the Series' biggest play so far). Game 2 was all Royals, showcasing their contact-hitting strength and knocking around Mets ace Jacob deGrom. Then last night was the Mets' time to show off their strengths. Syndergaard struck out six Royals and looked every bit the ace deGrom had been touted to be. The Mets got to Royals starter Yordano Ventura early and often, clouting a pair of 2-run home runs in the process.

So the Royals find themselves up 2-1 in the Series, yet seem to be on their heels a bit after the onslaught last night in Queens. They need a spark, and they need it in the batters' box. Now would be a great time to reverse the troubling trend of Lorenzo Cain in the World Series.

2015 was a career year (see what I did there??) for Cain across the board. He racked up more than 600 plate appearances for the first time as a pro, and slashed .307/.361/.477 on his way to his first All-Star game. He hit in the 3-hole all year long. He cracked 34 doubles, legged out 6 triples and swiped 28 bags in 34 tries. He finished with 6.6 Wins Above Replacement, ranking as MLB's 9th most valuable player during the regular season. And all the while playing top-notch defense in centerfield.

But, Cain hasn't been able to carry any momentum from his breakout regular season into October. In his 64 PAs this postseason, he's managed to hit .241/.344/.315 while changing his approach drastically from the look of it. His ISO is down nearly .100, from .171 during the regular season to a paltry .074 when it matters most. He's increased his walk rate dramatically, but not without adding a slight uptick in strikeout percentage. Even his BABIP has taken a major downward turn, from a sky-high .347 to .279.

And it's been even worse in the World Series, as Cain's limped to a .250/.348/.300 line while only tallying two extra-base hits in 46 PAs.

So, what's behind this? Let's see if we can find out. First place we'll look is at the opposition, as it seems just to the eye test that postseason pitchers have found a couple of holes in Cain's swing up in the zone and also on the outside part of the plate. Here's where Cain's success came from in the regular season (thanks, Fangraphs!):

Lorenzo Cain Pitch% vs All Pitchers
Season: 2015 | Count: All | Total Pitches: 2280 | Viewpoint: Pitcher
0.3 %
0.6 %
0.4 %
0.3 %
0.5 %
0.6 %
0.8 %
0.8 %
0.6 %
0.4 %
0.4 %
0.6 %
0.8 %
1.0 %
1.3 %
1.1 %
0.9 %
0.7 %
0.6 %
0.8 %
1.1 %
1.7 %
1.7 %
1.4 %
1.3 %
0.9 %
0.7 %
0.8 %
1.0 %
1.7 %
2.2 %
2.0 %
1.8 %
1.4 %
1.1 %
0.8 %
0.6 %
1.3 %
1.9 %
2.3 %
2.2 %
1.9 %
1.6 %
1.3 %
0.9 %
1.3 %
1.8 %
2.1 %
1.9 %
1.8 %
1.6 %
1.2 %
0.9 %
1.3 %
1.7 %
1.8 %
1.7 %
1.7 %
1.5 %
1.0 %
0.6 %
1.2 %
1.6 %
1.5 %
1.4 %
1.4 %
1.1 %
0.6 %
0.3 %
1.9 %
1.5 %
0.5 %

Up in the zone has been giving Cain fits all year, and it's tough to lay off those pitches, but that's a spot that's notoriously tough for right handers to get to. Cain would do well to just watch these go by once they're around the letters, regardless of ball/strike call.

But you see quite clearly that Cain loves to hit the ball down and away. Middle-out is where he finds his must success, with that trend even accounting for balls off the plate away. He likes to extend his hands and use the entire field, which makes him so tough to game plan for. His contact and hit profile personifies the Royals' best-known strength.

To get a complete look at what made Cain such a dominant regular season performer, though, we need to know where his career-high-by-far 56 extra base hits, including a (yep, you guessed it) career best 16 HRs, came from. Another heat map courtesy of Fangraphs takes a look at what made up his .171 ISO:

Lorenzo Cain ISO/P vs L
Season: 2015 | Count: All | Total Pitches: 699 | Viewpoint: Pitcher
.000
.000
.000
.000
.000
.000
.000
.000
.000
.000
.000
.000
.000
.000
.000
.100
.190
.091
.000
.000
.012
.008
.080
.315
.234
.111
.071
.000
.015
.035
.046
.181
.135
.136
.274
.125
.000
.024
.044
.066
.055
.092
.245
.198
.078
.018
.026
.035
.054
.177
.197
.196
.071
.000
.011
.033
.140
.155
.161
.081
.000
.000
.000
.028
.079
.133
.068
.000
.000
.000
.000
.000

While Cain is capable of spraying the ball all over the yard for base hits, the above shows he clearly likes to drive pitches middle-in. I know, I know- a right handed hitter who likes to pull for power, la de frickin' da. But this does show us a pretty complete picture of who Cain is as a hitter and what makes him so tough on opposing hurlers.

Let's take a look at how this compares to his playoffs performance. First, here's how has he been pitched in those 64 playoff games so far, thanks to the unbelievable Brooks Baseball:

                                (This is from the catcher's view, opposite of the above)


Pretty telling that opposing pitchers aren't challenging Cain inside much. Huge majority of pitches he's seen this postseason have been down and away, with most just off the plate. These are tough pitches for anyone not named Vlad Guerrero to get any real mustard behind, which goes a long way in explaining Cain's dearth of power this playoffs. He's been forced to take what opposing pitchers have been giving him, and he's been much more selective, explaining that walk rate. Down and away aren't pitches a righty swinger wants to take big hacks at, and can be frustrating to see over and over again.

Now, small sample sizes do apply here, but still the trend is troubling for Kansas City. They count on Cain for so much in order for this team to be successful on offense. In order for Lo to get back on track, he's going to need to stay patient, continue to look middle-in early and, perhaps most importantly, let the high ones go. With pitchers approaching him with such extreme caution to start each plate appearance, he can't give strikes away by swinging from his heels on pitches that are borderline high strikes. The good news is, even if Cain himself can't dictate how the opposition faces him, when he gets on he can still turn a walk or single into extra bases with his legs.

For the Royals to turn up the pressure and pull to within just one game of their first title in 30 years, they're going to have to hope regular season Lorenzo Cain makes an appearance on the big stage. For fans in Royal Blue, it would be a welcome reversal of a troubling trend.

careeryearblog@gmail.com

Friday, October 30, 2015

What I'm Watching For - Game 3 Cont'd

Quick gut feelings breakdown I'll be watching closely tonight:

#2.) Can Cain and Hosmer provide the pop they did in last year's postseason? Lo has been on base a ton this postseason, but hasn't provided the electricity at the plate he did last year. He's been great in the field and on the basepaths, as one might expect, but the 'stay away' approach pitchers are taking with him has softened his thunderous bat a little. Don't get me wrong, I like hard grounders slashed through the 3.5 hole between second and first, but Cain has much more to offer this offense in terms of driving the ball to the gaps.

As for Hosmer, we've all heard about his impressive clutch hitting with runners on so far this playoffs. But, like Cain, most of those RBI are coming on sacrifices or well-placed groundball singles. He hasn't been able to get extended and drive the ball to left-center, which is when you know he's going well. He's been crucial in keeping the line moving, but he's yet to provide the big blows Royals fans have no doubt been expecting each time he's up. Haven't looked too far into it yet, but I do believe pitch selection has played into this. He's swinging at more balls out of the zone than I'm used to seeing, and he's taking more first-pitch strikes as well.

Let's hope the day off and more homer-friendly ballpark wake these guys up a bit.

#3.) Keep the Moose train rolling. As I said in my Game 2 preview, Moose has looked like the most comfortable and confident hitter in the Royals' lineup outside of Ben Zobrist. Maybe it's something about colder weather that allows Moose to quiet down, or maybe he's just another Royal who's better when the spotlight's brightest. Either way, let's hope he keeps this approach up, because when he's spraying the ball to all fields while flashing that pull power, he's tough to defend.

#4.) Can the Mets hit? We've already broken down the Royals' Game 3 starter and why his best pitch will be so important to their success tonight. But what hasn't been talked about much is this Mets lineup and whether or not they can deliver for the home club when it matters most. Look, this isn't a lineup that's going to inspire many oos and ahs, especially when you get to the bottom third, but they did lead the NL in homeruns and runs scored after the All-Star break, and you saw what's possible when just one guy gets ultra-hot in a series. So far in the World series, they've only scratched out 5 runs over 23 innings against a Royals pitching staff not exactly expected to be lock-down in the first 5 or so innings. So what's the deal? Simple- they need Cespedes, Duda and Murphy to get back to their patient, slugging ways. Too many off-balance swings, too many fastballs taken, too much jumpiness. I expect this Mets offense to be much more relaxed tonight after sleeping in their own beds and knowing just how important Game 3 is to their title hopes.

For Royals fans, this will come down to Ventura's ability to stay calm, stay within himself and establish the fastball.

careeryearblog@gmail.com

Thursday, October 29, 2015

What I'm Watching For - Game 3

I'm going to take a dive into a few things I'm watching for in tomorrow night's Game 3. Starting with:

1.) A Tale of Two "Ace"s - Yordano Ventura, KC's Game 3 starter and nominal ace for most of the season, is a rather odd pitcher. He's also rather straight forward. You see, Ventura- or Ace, as he's known in this household- throws heat. Like, Mets-level heat. He ranked 3rd this year in average velocity, behind only the Yankees' Nathan Eovaldi (whose elbow may wish he'd done things differently) and Ace's Game 3 opponent, Mets' starter Noah Syndergaard. And, as one might expect from a person who's been able to make a career out of lighting up the radar gun, he relies heavily on that freakish skill. And why not? The best fastball hitting offense in baseball shares a dugout with him. Opposing hitters are at a disadvantage the minute they walk into the park.

But, as is typical of most natural-born fireballers, Ace can have a hard time corralling that cannon of his. And when he does, he goes away from it. When he goes away from it, he typically ends up just going away himself. Banished to the clubhouse after a short, walk-riddled outing and left to watch the bullpen try to make good on his efforts. Whether it be control, hard-hit balls, a perceived small strike zone or run of the mill shit-talking, Ventura typically doesn't bounce back from adversity. And that's because he doesn't fight fire with his own variety.

The below graphic, courtesy of Brooks Baseball, shows Ventura's pitch mix in each of his 32 starts this year, including the postseason. As you can see, it's quite erratic:


Let's look at the obvious first. You can see the dramatic peaks and valleys in his fourseam usage clearly, and those peaks tend to lineup with wins while the valleys signal those outings when Ventura just didn't have it for one reason or another. He threw the pitch more than 45% of the time in 11 starts this year. The Royals won 8 of them. When he's feeling it with the old number 1, he's tough to beat. When he's not, he's not. This would be the rather straight forward bit I'd alluded to.

What's odd about Ventura is just about everything else you see in the graph. For one, take a look at his cutter usage. He essentially buried the pitch in May and only threw it again during a 2-start stretch in August against the Angels and Tigers. More on this a little later, but I have to imagine it's strange for a hurler to shelf a pitch for an entire season only to bring it back in the most high-leverage outings of the season.

Next, you'll notice a steady rise in his curveball usage. The curve is Ventura's put-away pitch, and it's as nasty as they come, inducing whiffs on an astounding 42.39% of swings against it. It's great to see Ventura gaining confidence in the curve, since it's really the yen to his fastball's yang, and also because he's essentially done away with a changeup that he'd been throwing about once every 5 pitches earlier on in the year.

In the postseason, he's added a couple wrinkles. You can see he's eschewed his fourseam cheddar for more sinkers (2-seamers) and cutters. Pretty savvy move by the 24-year old, if you ask me. The cut fastball, especially, should help to neutralize lefthanded hitters in the mold of Daniel Murphy, Curtis Granderson and Lucas Duda. This is a welcome adjustment, and likely has a lot to do with oft-overlooked pitching wizard Dave Eiland, who for so many years with the Yankees worked with some of the best cutter artists this generation has seen.

So maybe we can just throw out the book on Ventura as a fastball-first, power pitcher. With him reversing course in nearly every way in his three playoff starts, maybe the heater doesn't portend success. But, as with anything, we have to keep sample size in perspective. Three starts does not a trend make.

So I'll be watching Ace very closely to start out the game. I'll be paying close attention to the Mets' hitters and how they try to disrupt Ventura and flare his infamous temper. But most importantly, I'll be charting how often he's throwing his fastball, because if he's got it working and is able to hit that magic 45% number, the Royals should wind up one game closer to a World Championship when all's said and done.

careeryearblog@gmail.com

Royals Links Today

Quick and handy roundup for you cubicle jockeys needing a Royals fix.

Fangraphs

- Brad Johnson takes a look at Kendrys Morales's resurgence this year, and also takes a peek into the future with 2016 fantasy projections.

- Jeff Sullivan reports on what's now a trend with Jacob deGrom's swing-and-miss stuff.

- While Royals fans still await Raul Mondesi's MLB debut (could come in New York this weekend!), Chris Mitchell projects his future.

- Great piece by Tony Blengino discussing what sets the Royals apart from the rest.

- August Fagerstrom calls Cueto the most exciting player in MLB, highlights his unique delivery(ies).

Kansas City Star

- Nobody does it better than Andy McCullough

- Vehe Gregorian takes a deep dive into what makes eccentric Johnny Cueto tick, as well as his historic performance in Game 2.

- Beat writers Andy McCullough and Blair Kerkhoff recap Game 2 in video form.

CBS Sports

- Jon Heyman's MLB notes include some pointers for the Mets if they plan on making a series of this.

- Dayne Perry gives us 8 things you need to know about the Royals' Game 2 victory.

ESPN

- Jayson Stark says the Royals offense looks unstoppable.

- This World Series, it's been the Royals hitters who've overpowered the Mets' starting pitching. David Schoenfield has the facts.

- More on Johnny Cueto's heorics from Jerry Crasnick.

- Adam Rubin tells the Mets' side of the story, especially what went wrong with Jacob deGrom.

- Grantland's Jonah Keri, always worth a read, gives his take on Game 2.

And a few more..

- The great Rany Jazayerli added to his Royals blog prior to the World Series, and talks about what this Royals team means to my generation of fans.

- Here's the guys at Royals Review taking us to New York!

careeryearblog@gmail.com

2 Down, 2 To Go.. KC Goes to New York

Thursday morning. It wasn't a dream.

Last night the Kansas City Royals emphatically took a 2-0 series lead on the Mets, pounding out 10 hits in the 7-1 Game 2 win. Johnny Cueto dominated a Mets offense that's looked nothing like its NLCS self. Two hits, one run, nine innings. It was the best game ever pitched by a Royal in a postseason game, according to Bill James' game score metric. Incredible.

The best thing about following these Royals isn't that they're accomplishing these feats night after night, conquering the best baseball has to throw at them. It's how they do it. They start rallies from any and every spot in the order. They've handily out-pitched a Mets group that was touted in the days leading up to the Series as the best young rotation maybe ever to be deployed in the playoffs. They field their positions. Boy, do they field their positions. Right now the USS Dayton Moore isn't leaking a drop, and as they set sail to the east, to New York and to glory, the sun is beginning to set on a dream run.

When the Mets took the lead 1-0 in the fourth inning on a Lucas Duda Texas leaguer to right field, the Royals had it coming. The previous batter was allowed to reach via fielder's choice on what should have been an inning-ending double-play ball to third baseman Mike Moustakas. But, Moose sailed his throw a touch wide and first baseman Eric Hosmer, who's looked uncharacteristically uncomfortable this series in the field, couldn't hold the bag. Analysts seem to think a chance at replay would've been worth it. Looked to me like Hosmer stretched a bit too early, and when Moose's throw wasn't as pinpoint as usual, it caught him flatfooted and out of position. He pulled his foot. The Mets got 4 outs instead of 3 in the 4th inning, and in the playoffs, it doesn't typically take long to pay for your miscues.

The fourth was also when Cueto seemed to come to a fork in the road. He was wavering badly, taking long pauses in between pitches and staring a hole through homeplate umpire Mark Carlson while his strike zone seemingly shrank with each pitch. He no longer was awarding Cueto the high strike. He no longer awarded the inside strike to left-handed hitters. This is a scene Royals fans had witnessed before. In the third inning of the ALCS, in Toronto, right before the Blue Jays exploded in front for good. The jeers rained down like poutine (I'm imagining poutine fountains and Molson Ice moats around Rogers Centre). Cueto was shaken, and couldn't recover.

But this time around, there were no jeers. Only cheers from the more than 40,000 in attendance at friendly Kauffman Stadium. And Cueto steeled his resolve, buckling down to retire Travis D'Arnoud and turn the inning over to the Royals' offense. But the dam had yet to break for Mets' ace Jacob deGrom. He looked to be tottering a bit on his long, stork legs, but the Royals had yet to break through.

Then the fifth rolled around.

deGrom started the inning by walking 8-hitter Alex Gordon. This lineup is relentless. deGrom had been fantastic all season, and lights out this postseason. He has the flowing locks and the high-90s fastball so en vogue these days. But on this day, for perhaps the first time in his baseball life, deGrom was overmatched. The Royals swung and missed only 3 times Wednesday night, by far the lowest number induced by deGrom in his professional career. They peppered the Mets' defense with hard-hit ground balls and line drives. They fouled off 23 deGrom pitches. They took 3 walks from him. They made him pack his lunch and put in an honest day's work. And it wasn't enough. Not by a longshot.

After the Gordon walk, Alex Rios followed with a base hit to left. 2 on, nobody out. The Royals were finally in business after putting only a couple of guys on base the previous 4 innings. The dam was cracking after so many repeated blows.

Then, in a way it seems only the Royals are capable, the offense broke through. After Alcides Escobar failed to get a bunt down on consecutive pitches, he rapped a 2-strike single into center, scoring Gordon and tying the game 1-1. Ben Zobrist kept the line moving, to qoute the Royals' motto this year, grounding out to first baseman Duda but moving both runners in the process. Lorenzo Cain lined out hard to center, increasing the already palpable drama at the K. Then Hosmer made up for his blunder in the fourth with a 2-run single up the middle- a hard-hit ground ball that was his first good contact all night. He extended his Royals playoff record for RBI to 28 in only 27 games, the kind of stat that makes you shrug and say "baseball". The inning finally came to a close, but not before Moose could drive in Cain to extend the Royals lead to 4-1. They never looked back.

Cueto dominated the remainder of the way, sitting down 15 straight at one point. The Royals kept the pressure on the Mets' bullpen and defense, adding 3 more runs in the eighth inning. The game was well in hand when Cueto came trotting out to finish what he'd started in the ninth inning. He walked a batter, but was otherwise sound, stirring what could potentially be the last Royals home crowd of 2015 into a frenzy.

And so the world turns. Coming into this Series, Vegas had the odds of winning dead even, -110 for both sides. It was supposed to be power pitching versus contact hitting with a side of excellent closers. But what was overlooked is the fact this Mets' offense doesn't pack much punch. Daniel Murphy's incredible home run binge in the NLDS and NLCS masked a bottom of the order that doesn't inspire much confidence. Outside of the Mets top 4 hitters, none look like they belong hitting postseason pitching.

On the flip side, this Royals offense is GREAT. Every regular outside of Hosmer and DH Kendrys Morales has been named to at least one All-Star team. The homegrown core of Escobar, Hosmer, Cain, Moose and, last but certainly not least, Salvador Perez, have come into their own as baseball's best young foundation. Their veterans have made their mark, with Zobrist looking like he's played in every World Series the last 10 years and Rios holding his own at the bottom of the order. They take big swings in 3-0 counts. They do not conceded anything. I can't imagine pitching against this bunch. It's a Murderer's Row, post-Moneyball. If you're holding ticket for the Royals to win the World Series right now, it wouldn't be weird to feel like you've stolen something.

So, it turns out the narrative coming into this World Series was spot on. Except it appears to this fan that both the power pitching and the contact hitting reside in the same dugout. The team in Royal Blue is not backing down but doubling down. The dream run that began in the Wild Card game last October is nearing the ending it deserved all along- with the Kansas City Royals as World Champions.

careeryearblog@gmail.com