The Surprise Series

THE SURPRISE SERIES! SAN FRANCISCO VISITS KANSAS CITY TO START THE 2014 FALL CLASSIC

At no point during the regular season, in the Wildcard play-in games, or even during the Division Round of the 2014 Major League Playoffs was anyone imagining a World Series battle between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals. They didn’t have the pitching. They didn’t have the offense. They were seemingly outclassed by most anyone they’d face in the brackets. Maybe they’d catch some breaks and have an interesting run.

Instead, they both had DOMINANT runs by playing aggressive confident baseball against a bunch of overrated opponents that kept sitting around hoping something good would happen!

The Giants and Royals earned their way into the Fall Classic. San Francisco will try to win its third title in the last five years. Kansas City’s last foray into the postseason was so long ago that many younger Las Vegas bettors barely remember it. Will experience push the Giants over the top? Or, are the Royals a team of destiny that’s turned back the clock at just the right time to make everyone appreciate old-school baseball?

Let’s run some numbers...

REGULAR SEASON OFFENSE
S. Francisco: 3.9 runs per game, .320 on-base, .381 slugging
Kansas City: 4.0 runs per game, .315 on-base, .379 slugging

POSTSEASON OFFENSE
S. Francisco: 4.1 runs per game, .313 on-base, .324 slugging
Kansas City: 5.3 runs per game, .331 on-base, .390 slugging

San Francisco had the much better offense during the regular season because they accomplished those numbers in the National League. Scary that they could post a better on-base percentage and slugging percentage while batting a pitcher every night! Kansas City’s offense was horrible much of the season, and wasn’t seen as much of a postseason threat because of their lack of pop. They’ve shown a little more pop for the playoffs. And, their runs-per-game have become championship caliber because they’re aggressive base-running has gotten into the heads of so many opposing pitchers and defenses.

If the Giants maintain their composure, they’re likely to have the better offense based on the larger sample size of full season data.

TUESDAY’S PITCHERS (Regular Season Stats)
Madison Bumgarner: 2.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 9.1 K-Rate 6.6 IP-per-Start
James Shields: 3.21 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 7.1 K-Rate 6.7 IP-per-Start

TUESDAY’S PITCHERS (Postseason Stats)
Madison Bumgarner: 1.42 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 8.0 K-Rate 7.9 IP-per-Start
James Shields: 5.63 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 8.4 K-Rate 5.3 IP-per-Start

We have to make an adjustment for leagues here. If you do that, you realize that Bumgarner and Shields were almost the same pitcher during the regular season! Bumgarner did have a clear and meaningful edge in strikeout rate, and that does matter in the postseason. The other team can’t score if they can’t make contact.

In October, they haven’t been the same pitcher. Bumgarner has been a true shut-down ace, while Shields has battled nerves and control. Kansas City won his three starts because they scored 8-8-9 runs! If Shields doesn’t settle in, the Giants could win the series opener very easily. Handicappers will have to decide if he’s going to settle in or not.

Current Line: Pick-em, total of 6.5

The market does expect Shields to settle in, because they’ve rated this game a coin flip. If you assume the Giants get the nod on offense, but KC gets credit for home field advantage...then the composite of betting opinions are rating the pitchers as even.

JIM HURLEY was disappointed both LCS ended early, because that reduced the number of games he could win! But, a side effect of that was that it allowed more preparation time for the World Series. He’s been checking in with his scouts, his sources, his statheads, his computer programmers, and his Wise Guy connections to make sure clients start the Series off on a winning note. You can purchase GAME-BY-GAME WINNERS all through the Fall Classic or any of my picks right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about special offers on combination packages for football and the World Series, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

World Series coverage continues tomorrow in the NOTEBOOK with a study of the remaining rotation pitchers. We’ll be focused on football Thursday through the weekend...so Wednesday is the perfect time to map out the rest of the probable pitching matchups. Here’s what’s coming up...

Wednesday: World Series Remaining Starting Pitcher Analysis
Thursday: NFL Stat Preview...San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
Friday: College Preview...#6 Oregon at California (Friday Night danger for Ducks?)
Saturday: College Preview...#3 Ole Miss at #24 LSU

What a week! Visit us daily in the NOTEBOOK for great handicapping information. Then, hook up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK for BIG, JUICY WINNERS!

And be sure to follow Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley!

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