Royals v. Giants

I interrupt your regularly scheduled blog for a special announcement: The Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants are going to World Series!

Royals v Giants

Given that these are both Wildcard teams that fought their way through a do-or-die Wildcard game, a League Division Series and a League Championship series, it’s kind of double-plus cool!

[Those looking for more of the previous two posts, can read this older post about the Mike Judge movie, Idiocracy. Be assured I will resume the topic anon.]


That the KC Royals have won eight games (losing none) is Major League Baseball history. No team has ever won their first eight post-season games. In the Division Series era, only one other team has ever swept their way to the World Series.

WS 2007The Colorado Rockies, in 2007, went 3-0 against the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS and 4-0 against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLCS. Then they went down to the Boston Red Sox 0-4 in the World Series, but they did win their first seven post-season games.

Before the Divisional Series era, in 1976, the Cincinnati Reds also won their first seven post-season games. They took the Philadelphia Phillies 3-0 in the NLCS and then went on to sweep the New York Yankees 4-0 in the World Series. As such, the Reds did sweep the entire post-season that year, but that consists of only the NLCS and World Series.

WS 2004The Boston Red Sox, in 2004, did come back from an 0-3 hole in the ALCS to win four games against the New York Yankees and then went on to sweep the World Series in four games against the St Louis Cardinals.

So winning eight straight games in post-season is currently a tie. Should the Royals manage to win the first game (which will be played in their home ballpark), then they will break the all-time record for most consecutive games, period.

WS 1985The “C” in KC Royals seems to also stand for Cinderella! This team hasn’t been to the ball since 1985! The Giants will be fearsome opponents, but I’d love to see the Royals go all the way.

If you’re not into baseball stats, you can tune out now; the rest of this post looks at the numbers for the Royals and other post-season teams. Perhaps you might enjoy the Haiku For the Royals in the Moar Bazball post.

Okay, let’s talk stats. First, let’s take a look at how the Royals did at the plate:

Royals 42 73 .259 .331 .387 5.25 9.12
Opps 26 61 .210 .283 .320 3.25 7.62
Δ +16 +12 +0.049 +0.049 +0.067 +2.00 +1.50

The stat that stands out most to me there is the Runs/Game: 5.25 is noticeably above the League average of 4.07 in 2014. And as you can see from the differential (Δ), the Royals did better than their opponents in every category (and, in particular, held their opponents to a measly 3.25 R/G).

As a reference point, in the regular season this year, the Royals averaged 4.01 R/G and posted a .263/.313/.376 slash line. They ranked fourth in the League, with 1465 hits, and they ranked third in not being shut out (with only 7 SHO).

I like looking at offense in terms of percentages of Plate Appearances (PA). Here’s how the Royals stack up in terms of key percentages:

H% R% HR% K% BB% PA
Royals 22.32 12.84 2.45 18.96 9.17 327
Opps 18.77 8.00 2.46 21.23 8.62 325
Δ +3.55 +4.84 -0.02 -2.27 +0.56 +2

They actually did just ever so slightly worse than their opponents in Home Runs (HR%), and you want to do worse when it comes to striking out (K%). In fact, the Royals are not known for power — they had the least number of Home Runs in the league this year!

The 12.84% Runs percentage is very good. Again, as a reference point, during the 2014 season, they had a Runs percentage of 10.73% and a Home Runs percentage of 1.57%.

Baseball tends to be hugely about pitching, and post-season especially can be dominated by pitching (although, as the stats above show, the Royals were hard to dominate). Here’s a look at the Royals’ pitching stats:

Starters 3.80 1.20 21.08 10.27 3.78 17.84 8.11
Bullpen 1.80 1.00 15.71 5.00 0.71 25.71 9.29
Team 2.93 1.31 18.77 8.00 2.46 21.23 8.62

If only my Minnesota Twins could pitch like this. The Royals’ bullpen, especially, has been “lights out!” Only 5% of the batters faced by the ‘pen had Runs! And just over one-quarter of them struck out!


Okay, so how about them Giants? Here’s the same tables for the Orange and Black:

Giants 41 88 .244 .313 .324 4.10 8.80
Opps 25 68 .192 .251 .322 2.50 6.80
Δ +16 +20 +0.052 +0.062 +0.002 +1.60 +2.00

What strikes me here is that the Giants were close to League average in R/G, but they did even better than the Royals in keeping their opponents from hitting or scoring. Their averages are lower than the Royals’, and generally speaking so are their batting percentages:

H% R% HR% K% BB% PA
Royals 21.52 10.02 1.22 14.18 8.80 409
Opps 17.62 6.48 3.11 20.98 6.74 386
Δ +3.90 +3.55 -1.89 -6.80 +2.07 +23

But they did better than their opponents (except for Home Runs), and that’s what matters!

The reference points for the Giants: During the 2014 season, they had a Runs percentage of 10.88% (averaging 4.09 R/G) and a Home Runs percentage of 2.16%. Their slash line was .255/.311/.389.

And finally, Giants’ pitching:

Starters 2.40 0.99 18.97 7.11 1.98 20.16 5.93
Bullpen 1.78 0.88 5.04 5.26 5.26 22.56 8.27
Team 2.18 0.95 17.62 6.48 3.11 20.98 6.74

That is some pretty awesome pitching! Giants’ starters struck out more and walked fewer than the Royals’ did (although the Royals’ bullpen has a better K%). The sub-1.00 WHIP in all categories is impressive!

One consideration is that the Giants’ starters went deeper in games than the Royals’ starters. Starters for the Giants pitched to 65.5% of batters faced, the starters for the Royals pitched to only 56.9%.

World SeriesLastly, a stat that interests me is Runs/Hit, a measure of offensive efficiency. It’s thrown off a little by Home Runs, but basically it looks at how well a team gets runners home.

The Royals convert about 57% of their hits to runs (versus only about 40% for their opponents, which highlights the Royals’ strong defense).

The Giants convert about 47% of their hits, certainly lower, but they hold their opponents down to about 35%, so they are also defensively strong.

[If you’re wondering about the vagueness of those numbers, all those “abouts”, it’s because I track that stat as an overall average (total-Runs/total-Hits) and as an average across all games’ Runs/Hits. The numbers above split the difference.]

All-in-all, it should be an exciting World Series. The fun begins October 21st in Kansas City. GO ROYALS!!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

14 responses to “Royals v. Giants

  • Doobster418

    Well, as you know, I’m a member in good standing of Red Sox Nation, so I was thrilled that the Sox have managed to win three World Series in this past decade. (Let us not dwell on the 2014 season, though.) But now I live in San Francisco. Thus, I have to be loyal to my hometown boys. Although if if the Giants were facing the Sox in the WS, I’d be pulling for the Sox.

    So I, like you, hope it will be an exciting World Series, but unlike you, I’m hoping for a slightly different outcome.

    Let the games begin and may the better team win!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, your Red Sox have been to the Big Show 12 times (ranking sixth, behind the usual suspects and the A’s), and won 8 of them. One reason I was rooting for the Brewers, Mariners and Nationals early on is they are all lacking in visits. The Brewers went once (and lost) — the other two, never. My Twins né Senators went six times and won three. (As the Twins, only thrice, winning twice.) So you’re doing okay there, is my overly statistical point.

      I was thinking it would have been funny if the Orioles had won the ALCS — the WS would have been orange versus orange.

      Much as I hate to admit it, I think the Royals have a tough slog ahead. It’s arguable that the Angels and Orioles were running on fumes, and the Giants are used to post-season and they are very good at winning ballgames — the last two NLCS games being excellent examples.

  • reocochran

    Just so happy for you and hope you will enjoy the game! I am always glad when someone’s team, one that is not usually the winner, gets to make it through the games to be chosen as a Wild Card team playing in the series! Go Kansas Royals!

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, I also have a definite tendency to root for an underdog. I would have been happy to see the Mariners get a Wildcard slot — they’ve never been to the W.S. Your Cleveland Indians have been five times (winning twice; 1920 & 1948), but you guys have had a dry stretch — not being there since 1997. (Of course, my Twins haven’t been there since 1991, so I’m not that sympathetic! 😀 )

      Ah, well, maybe next season, eh? 🙂

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Okay… so game #1 of the World Series was a bit of a disappointment. Certainly for Royals fans, but perhaps also for Giants fans hoping for a good ball game.

    It wasn’t the Royals losing so much (although that ruined their chance of a historic record of nine-straight post-season wins) as that the game was pretty much over after the first inning after Shields gave up three runs.

    When the Royals didn’t make use of a scoring opportunity in the third, and then Shields gave up a double, a walk and a single in the fourth (without retiring a single batter), the DOA was signed, sealed and delivered.

    Summary: James “Big Game” Shields was awful and Bumgarner was — totally unsurprisingly — excellent. KC got only one run, a solo homer by Perez, but SF ended up with seven.

    Do better tonight, Royals!!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Wow, what a difference a day makes! Game #2 was a complete reversal of fortune for both teams. Instead of losing 1-7, as in the first game, the Royals won 7-2, plus — bonus — the game was pretty exciting up to, and including (at least for Royals fans), the bottom of the sixth.

    Once the Royals put up that five-run inning, the game was largely over. At that point the “Shut Down Train” of Herrera, Davis and Holland had already left the station (Ventura having lasted only 5.1 innings), so the Giants really didn’t have much of a chance.

    Meanwhile, the Giants’ bullpen, and their starter, ran into a wall in the sixth. Peavy pitched to two batters and recorded no outs; Machi pitched to one and gave up a run, Strickland pitched to two and gave up two. Lopez and Affeldt were the only relievers to record outs (and no runs) in the run-away sixth.

    So the Series is tied 1-1, and we’re off to three in San Francisco. The Royals need to win just one game there to guarantee more games back home in KC.

    Go Royals!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Game #3 was flat-out awesome, and not just because the Royals won (making the Series 2-1 in their favor). It was a tight, one-run game all the way, and the tension didn’t end until the final out.

    Royals started early with a run in the top of the first (Escobar doubling on the very first pitch, sacrifice singles by Gordon and Cain bringing him home). Game stayed 1-0 until the sixth when both teams posted two runs each (making still a one-run game).

    And that was all the scoring there was. Extremely well-pitched and even better defensed game. I haven’t seen a nail-biter like that in a while!

    Go Royals!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Well, game #4 was pretty ugly for Royals fans. A 4-11 loss! Both starting pitchers were taken out early, and the Royals’ bullpen gave up eight runs compared to zero given up by the Giants’ bp.

    And it was the Royals’ bp that lost the game. Had they been equally lights-out, the Royals would have won, since Vogelsong gave up four runs and Vargas only three.

    This may have been a case of the better manager winning. Bruce Bochy fielded 18 guys — four pinch hitters, six pitchers — and they sure got the job done.

    I kinda figured the Giants would win #4, but yikes, that was a rout! It’s the third decisive game in this Series, the second decisive win for the Giants. I much prefer the nail-biters, even if my team doesn’t win!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    It’s hard to say which was more painful for Royals fans, game #4 or last night’s shut-out game #5. At least the Royals got four runs in game #4. Sadly, it looks a little like the Giants have gotten under the Royals’ skins.

    Baseball is a game of inches, luck and psychology, and the last two games seem to indicate the Royals may have loss their psychological edge. Or maybe just plain run out of gas.

    Royals played 18 innings of baseball with only one scoring inning (third inning of game #4 when they scored four runs). Meanwhile the Giants played only 16 innings and scored in eight of them!

    Or compare the Royals’ four runs in the last two games to the Giants’ 16. Even the hits tell a story: 16 for the Royals; 28 for the Giants.

    The Series moves back to Kansas City with the Royals down 2-3 games. They need to win both home games to win the Series — the Giants only need to win one.

    I’ve always thought the Giants had the edge, although I hoped for an underdog upset. Royals gonna have to play pretty great baseball to pull it off, though.

    Go Royals!?

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Shields wasn’t awful last night… six innings and two ER is a game ERA of only 3.00 — a decent ERA. On the other hand, with 8 hits and one walk, he had a WHIP of 1.50, which ain’t great.

      In contrast, Bumgarner was outstanding. A game ERA of 0.00 and a WHIP of 0.44. He’s an amazing pitcher.

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