|San Francisco should win its third title this decade (InForum)|
Both contestants are good teams, obviously, but neither can be considered the best in their division, let alone their league. The Giants didn't have a particularly good run differential at +51, but that was still better than the Royals at +27. There's a reason both teams were Wild Card entries.
But here they are, the last teams standing in their respective leagues. San Francisco is shooting for its third World Series title in five years. The Royals hope to cap their first playoff appearance since 1985 with a championship.
Who's the favorite, you ask? I say San Francisco, and not just because they're more seasoned when it comes to October baseball.
Offensively, the Giants are considerably better after adjusting for league and park. They outscored the Royals by 14 runs and posted a superior OPS (.699 to .690) despite playing in a tougher park and hitting pitchers much more frequently. Their on-base abilities are about even with the slight edge going to Kansas City (.314 OBP to San Fran's .311), but the Giants displayed much more power. They outhomered the Royals 132 to 95 and had six players exceed 10 home runs (the Royals had three). Kansas City is a much faster team with nearly three times as many stolen bases, but San Francisco is clearly more dangerous given their long ball ability via Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval.
San Francisco touts the best starting pitcher in this series, 25 year-old Madison Bumgarner. MadBum's been lights-out in these playoffs, posting a 1.42 ERA and 28/5 K/BB ratio in four starts, of which the Giants have won three. He'll get the ball in Game 1 against James Shields in a matchup that favors San Fran, although perhaps not as much as one might think given that Kansas City fared better against southpaws during the regular season with a .710 OPS against lefties compared to .682 versus righties. The rest of the rotations shake out pretty evenly, but since San Fran's has better strikeout stuff I'll give the slight edge to them.
The Royals hold clear advantages on defense (especially with that outfield of Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Nori Aoki) and in the bullpen, where Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Kevin Herrera have been unstoppable. San Francisco has a much smarter manager in Bruce Bochy, a Hall of Fame-bound skipper. Everyone knows Ned Yost is not a good manager, and that the Royals made the postseason in spite of him rather than because of him. I wouldn't be surprised if his blunders finally catch up to him in the biggest, most pressure-packed games of the season.
Prediction: Giants in 6