As we get closer to the opening game of the 2015 World Series between the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals, there are many questions surrounding both teams, but as squads finish tuning the final details before heading to the Fall Classic, here are a few things to keep in mind.
The Royals and Mets won consecutive World Series in 1985 and 1986 (respectively). Interestingly, they each benefited from an odd play at first base at a crucial point in Game 6. In 1985, the Royals benefited from an awful call at first base by umpire Don Denkinger, and in 1986, the Mets benefited from Bill Buckner’s iconic ground ball through the legs.
Neither team has won a title since then, although both of them have been to the World Series twice since (the Mets in 2000 and the Royals last year). Both the 1985 and 1986 World Series ended in Game 7s on October 27 of those years; on October 27, 2015, the Series will open.
Since 1961, 54 World Series have been played – and that was the first year that MLB expanded, adding the Angels and the second Washington Senators franchise. However, this is the first time that two teams face off in a World Series who came into existence as an expansion franchise rather than being one of the original National League or American League teams.
Both of these teams were bolstered down the stretch by major acquisitions at the trade deadline, and a starting lineup that had solid health. The Mets traded for outfielder Yoenis Cespedes – and they got Travis d’Arnaud back from the disabled list the same day. They also got David Wright back from injury and called up Michael Conforto. All four of these players have gone nuts for the Mets since the end of August, and so the team ranked third in the major leagues in runs scored per game after August 1. The Mets have averaged 5.3 runs per game after Cespedes joined the team.
The Royals brought in ace Johnny Cueto and versatile hitter Ben Zobrist. Cueto struggled until the end of the season, but Zobrist was terrific. Alex Gordon returned from the disabled list on September 1, and the combined contributions of these two helped the Royals average 5.1 runs per game after that.
The Mets have a huge advantage in the area of starting pitching. Their top three (Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard) are significantly better than the Royals’ top three (Cueto, Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura). If they wanted to use a fourth starter, the Mets have rookie Steven Matz, who is better than the Royals’ Chris Young. The Mets have a rotation that is better than anything the Royals have seen in the postseason, and the advantage is enlarged by the fact that the Royals’ batters have not seen these pitchers. When the teams last met in interleague games in 2013, the Mets had not yet called up Matz, Syndergaard or deGrom, and Harvey did not appear in that series. Alex Rios is the only Royal who has faced any of the starters, and he went 1 for 3 against Harvey in 2013 as a member of the White Sox. So going in, it’s likely that the Mets will win in five or six…but again, this is the World Series, where strange things happen almost every year.