Tagged: Salvador Perez

Predictions Sure to Go Wrong 6.0

Here we go into a new season where anything can happen. We had a lackluster off-season with a sputtering hot stove that saw some record-breaking contracts but weeks of “Will he or won’t he” that belongs on the Lifetime Channel rather than the MLB news wire. Teams seem willing to bet big on prospects but undervalue proven commodities. This is the same spirit we’re taking when we peer into our cracked crystal ball to make predictions about the 2019 season. We’re going to switch things up starting with the American League and Bernie is going to report on why they will or won’t do what we think they’ll do.

American League

Derek Jesse John Kevin Bernie The Winning Run
AL East Yankees Rojo Sox (yeah I said it) Yankees Yankees Yankees Yankees
Red Sox* Bandwagoners* Red Sux* Red Sox* Tea Partiers* Red Sox
Rays Canadians Rays Rays* Rays Rays
Blue Jays Devil Rays Blue Jays Blue Jays Pajaritos Blue Jays
Orioles Cal Ripkens hOribles Crush Davis Express Blue Jays Orioles

 

New York Yankees

One hundred wins last season and they end up a Wild Card. They blasted more home runs in a season than any team before. The rotation didn’t quite hold up and the bats went a bit cold in the Postseason. They shored up their pitching rotation in the off-season by trading for James Paxton and re-signing J.A. Happ. Masahiro Tanaka may have developed a pitch that could keep him from getting blown up every five games. Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres, and Miguel Andujar had a season in the Bronx to settle in and help recreate a new Murderers’ Row.

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Giancarlo Stanton will be flipping his bat and trotting around the bases plenty in 2019. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Boston Red Sox

They’re the reigning champs and they did it with a collective play that didn’t focus on one player’s excellence. Mookie Betts may be the most athletically gifted player in the Majors and Chris Sale wouldn’t surprise anyone if he makes another case to win the Cy Young. Craig Kimbrel hanging out in free agency does not help shorten games. We have to give the defending champs their due but they also didn’t do much in the off-season. Resting on your laurels while everyone else is re-configuring to beat the champs may not be the most sound strategy.

Tampa Bay Rays

Blake Snell threw the kind of fire that could have started the California wildfires last year. The Rays got him to bite on a 5 year, $50 million contract with a $3 million signing bonus. While it’s a big jump for him, it’s not elite ace money. The Rays are trying to win on a budget but that only works when you’ve got an analytical or strategic edge over your competition. You can’t Moneyball when everyone else is reading the statistics the same way. Then again, they probably would run away with the AL Central…

Toronto Blue Jays

There have been a lot of near misses with the Blue Jays’ recent signings. Randal Grichuk, Ken Giles, Yangervis Solarte, Aledmys Diaz…these are all (or were) solid role players to support a more elite group of players. *cough*Vladimir Guerrero Jr.*cough*

Baltimore Orioles

Mark Trumbo’s knee is looking better. Crush Davis is still their best option a first base? No left-handed pitching? Is Trey Mancini the only glimmer of hope on this roster? What happens is Jonathan Villar stays healthy and hits?

Derek Jesse John Kevin Bernie The Winning Run
AL Central Spiders Twinkletits sTinkies Cleveland Twins Twins
Twins Wahoos Native Americans* Twinkies Wahoos Cleveland
White Sox Tigers Sox ChiSox White Sox White Sox
Royals Black Sox Tigers Tigers Royals Tigers
Tigers Monarchs Royals Royals Tigers Royals

 

Minnesota Twins

The firing of Paul Molitor shows the Twins front office is getting impatient for wins. Rocco Baldelli coached the Rays for a few seasons so he knows how to work with a budget and talent, however Molitor was really the best sort of balance between analytics and gut feeling for the game. Derek and I saw Miguel Sano hit a laser in Detroit during BP that rocked the brick wall beyond the centerfield fence. We agree it would have carried over 500 ft. Perhaps Nelson Cruz can help guide Sano towards his All Star potential. Marwin Gonzalez, Jonathan Schoop, and Ronald Torreyes are solid pick ups to shore up the infield that’s covered by a great outfield of Max Kepler, Byron Buxton, and Eddie Rosario. They’ve got the talent to compete but only in their division.

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Will Miguel Sano become the star Minnesota is hoping for? (Bruce Kluckhohn-Associated Press)

Cleveland Indians

Cleveland’s lineup is looking a bit battered but they truly do their damage through hustle and pitching. Well, the hustle seems to be worn out. What’s worse is the arms seem to have cooled. A few years ago facing Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger, and Trevor Bauer would have seemed like swinging at ghosts. Now it seems that the only trouble with the rotation is staying alert enough to make contact. There’s still a deep well of talent here, it’s just worn down and needs a refresh.

Chicago White Sox

Eloy Jimenez is not the second coming but that’s because the White Sox’ front office had thought that about Yoan Moncada. Lucas Giolito, Carlos Rodon, and Ivan Nova make up a serviceable rotation but let’s be honest, the ChiSox are only getting third because of their divisional competition.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers are pretty much the White Sox without the prospects.

Kansas City Royals

Danny Duffy has a shoulder impingement in his throwing shoulder. Salvador Perez is out, getting Tommy John surgery…as a catcher. I have more faith in Bartolo Colon being able to pitch through 9 innings than this team to win more than 50 games.

Derek Jesse John Kevin Bernie The Winning Run
AL West Astros Colt .45’s Stros Astros Athletics Astros
Athletics* White Elephants* Ohtanis Oakland Astros* Athletics
Angels Trouts Athletics Angels Angels Angels
Mariners Walker Texas Rangers Mariners Seattle Mariners Mariners
Rangers Mariners Rangers Rangers Rangers Rangers

 

Houston Astros

These guys are a team of superstars that play like a team. Justin Verlander, George Springer, Jose Altuve, and Alex Bregman deliver on such a regular basis that support from guys like Carlos Correa, Yuli Gurriel, and Josh Reddick coming into a hot streak is just overwhelming for most teams. There’s a certain level of excellence that you have to bring to beat these guys. Few teams have it and fewer can do it as consistently.

Oakland Athletics

This is a team that makes you go “Who is that?” and they consistently outperform the expectations of the “experts”. Just bear in mind that the A’s outperformed Houston in OPS, BA, and HRs last season. Sean Manaea threw a no-no last season and he’s leading a rotation that doesn’t have the same regression potential that Houston has.

Los Angeles Angels

Shohei Ohtani isn’t throwing this season. Mike Trout signed a landmark contract that’s prompting players to question the utility of free agency (but really, without Bryce Harper and Manny Machado doing what they did, Trout wouldn’t have gotten his deal). This is team that’s signaling that they want to win but really not showing people that they know how to win. They may end up like the Yankees of the early 2000’s with enormous salaries, big names, cracked lumber…but no hardware to show for it.

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Mike Trout got paid, but can the Angels ever put together a winning team? (FTW-USA TODAY Sports)

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners are a lot like a superb AAA with some hot prospects just waiting for a call up. It’s not a rotation but a one-two punch in Marco Gonzalez and Yusei Kikuchi and I wouldn’t want to go into a boxing match with that combo. King Felix might have a few good games in him this season but that’s not a lot to float by on. The high point of their season is already over, Ichiro played in Japan and then retired.

Texas Rangers

This is a team full of redemption stories in the making. I’m not holding my breath. New stadium for 2020 might be the most exciting off-season move.

National League

Derek Jesse John Kevin Bernie The Winning Run
NL East Nationals Follies Braves Phillies Phillies Phillies
Phillies* Bravos* Harpers* Marlins* (yeah Jeets!) Braves* Braves
Braves Gnats Nationals Nationals Mets Nationals
Mets Amazins Yets Braves Nationals Mets
Marlins Fish Minor Lg Team Mets Marlins Marlins

 

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies picked up some good talent in Andrew McCutchen who had a bit of a refresh by the Bay and in the Bronx, Jean Segura who’s production and defense are constantly overlooked, and J.T. Realmuto, who’s on-base and slugging continue tracking better every year in the majors. We also saw Aaron Nola turn the corner and take over the mound like an elite ace. Jake Arrieta may not find the stride he had in Chicago but an improved lineup may make his job easier and bolster his confidence to hold things down. Let’s not forget that they also picked up a certain free agent that could amplify all of those previous moves by a huge leap – Bryce Harper.

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Bryce Harper moved to Philadelphia, can he win in October? (Drew Hallowell/ Getty Images)

Atlanta Braves

The Braves sort of caught lightning in a bottle with the emergence of young prospects in Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies. The signing of Josh Donaldson blocks Johan Camargo from the everyday lineup and puts him into a super utility role. When a young star like Freddie Freeman is one of your elder statesmen and you win the division, there’s a lot to like about this team. But the Braves probably had the largest range of predictions among The Winning Run’s team with first and fourth place finishes.

Washington Nationals

There’s a lot of killer talent on this team. They might actually be better without Bryce Harper in their outfield. But just like the city they play for, there are a lot of management and clubhouse synergy issues to overcome.

New York Mets

Speaking of management issues…there is still an enviable amount of pitching talent in Queens. The Mets need to stop trying to be the Yankees and embrace the chaos and circus of the New York sports media. Less bro, more fun would go a long way into turning this team into winners. Oh and either fire the entire medical staff or protect their positions and salaries from the front office. Either way, there are too many injuries for this to be anything but incompetence or interference, neither is good.

Miami Marlins

The Marlins will not do what the Phillies did last year. Kevin’s just doubling down because when it doesn’t work out, he can brush it off as a joke. Derek Jeter may be on track to becoming to baseball ownership/front office management what Michael Jordan has been to basketball.

Derek Jesse John Kevin Bernie The Winning Run
NL Central Cardinals Cards Brewers Brew Crew Cardinals Cardinals
Cubs Harray Carays Cards* Cardinals* Brewers* Brewers
Brewers Brewtus Maximus Reds Reds Reds Cubs
Reds Better Dead than Red Cubs Cubbies Cubs Reds
Pirates Bucs Privates Pirates Pirates Pirates

 

St. Louis Cardinals

I feel like a broken record. This team just reloads. Unlike last year, I think they won the off-season by trading for Paul Goldschmidt. They have great players in the rest of their positions or a deep bench to platoon. Yadier Molina is a cyborg because getting into that crouch in your late 30’s is just crazy, or I’m just jealous. Hopefully Molina is wearing a bulletproof cup this year. Regardless, the Cardinals seem to have a range and depth that provides them an edge over the regressing Cubs and volatile Brewers teams.

Milwaukee Brewers

There’s a lot of hitting potential on this team and they will probably be in the top 5 for HRs by the end of the season. The Brewers outperformed expectations on pitching last year but I think it can be done again. Corey Knebel being hurt is manageable since the bullpen seems infinitely interchangeable.

Chicago Cubs

Yu Darvish was a bust last year. Maybe he’ll turn it around this year. Jon Lester is a #2 guy who’s turning into a #3. Cole Hamels, Kyle Hendricks, and Jose Quintana are all a step away from brilliance but it is a risky bet that this is the season they take that step. They’re dangerous on the other side of the ball but something isn’t gelling for them and it’s not likely to fix itself this year.

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Yasiel Puig brings his energy to the Reds, can he bring more wins? (Kareem Elgazzar/ Cincinnati.com)

Cincinnati Reds

While Yasiel Puig brings a whole lot of fun energy to southwest Ohio, the bigger story is the pitching rotation. Sonny Gray has mean stuff but the lights in New York were too bright. Alex Wood is an underrated pitcher who keeps his lineups in the game with a 3.29 ERA over six seasons. Puig bringing extra run support could mean good things by the Ohio River.

Pittsburgh Pirates

The NL Central may be the polar opposite of the AL Central in competitiveness. But that doesn’t mean Pittsburgh is fielding a team that’s contributing to that image.

Derek Jesse John Kevin Bernie The Winning Run
NL West Dodgers Coors Dem Bums Dodgers Rockies Dodgers
Rockies* The Choking Kershaws* Rockies Rockies Dodgers Rockies
Padres Sneks Padres Padres Diamondbacks Padres
Diamondbacks Padres Giants D-backs Padres Diamondbacks
Giants Goliaths Diamondbacks Giants Giants Giants

 

Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers have won the division every season since 2013. It doesn’t seem likely to change but they didn’t do a lot in the off-season. The biggest move was to sign A.J. Pollock to a five-year deal to replace Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp. Much like the Red Sox, this doesn’t portend well. However, it’s hard to argue that the rest of the NL West made the sort of moves that would make them legitimate challengers to that crown.

Colorado Rockies

Nolan Arenado got a big contract and remains one of the most exciting players in the Majors. The departure of DJ LeMahieu was softened by signing Daniel Murphy. So they have the firepower to run up scores on their opponents, but playing in Denver is simply a difficult balance for pitching. Jon Gray seems to be one of the few pitchers that’s unfazed pitching at home or away from that elevation. It’s just hard to develop a rotation and bullpen around that. Especially when you let a guy like Adam Ottavino go to the Yankees.

San Diego Padres

Seriously? How did this happen? Oh yeah, the Diamondbacks sold the house. Hey look Manny Machado.

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How long until the Padres are relevant again? Ralph (Freso/ Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks

They sold the house. Zack Greinke cannot be happy that his departure from the Dodgers has left him with the team he has now. Goldschmidt is in St. Louis and Steven Souza Jr. went down with a terrible knee injury and is gone for the season. Can Jake Lamb stay healthy and will Adam Jones find a new home in the desert. They have a good rotation so if the hitting is good, they’re a dangerous team to play spoiler.

San Francisco Giants

How the mighty have fallen. Let’s not forget that the Giants have won three of the last ten World Series titles. But really, that’s all that’s going for them right now. One last trip around the Majors for Bruce Bochy.

Wild Card

Derek Jesse John Kevin Bernie Winning Run
AL Wild Card Red Sox Bandwagoners Red Sux Red Sux Tea Partiers Red Sox
Athletics White Elephants Indians Rays Astros Athletics
NL Wild Card Phillies Bravos Cards Cardinals Brewers Rockies
Rockies The Choking Kershaws Phillies Marlins Braves Brewers

 

Divisional Series

Derek Jesse John Kevin Bernie Winning Run
ALDS 1-4 Red Sox Rojo Sox Yankees Astros Yankees Yankees
Astros White Elephants Red Sux Red Sux Tea Partiers Red Sox
NLDS 1-4 Dodgers Follies Dodgers Dodgers Rockies Dodgers
Phillies Bravos Cards Cardinals Brewers Rockies
ALDS 2-3 Yankees Colt .45’s Astros Yankees Athletics Astros
Indians Twinkletits Twins Cleveland Twins Twins
NLDS 2-3 Cardinals Coors Brewers Brewers Cardinals Cardinals
Nationals Cards Braves Phillies Phillies Phillies

 

Championship Series

Derek Jesse John Kevin Bernie Winning Run
ALCS Yankees Rojo Sox Yankees Yankees Yankees Yankees
Red Sox Colt .45’s Astros Astros Athletics Astros
NLCS Cardinals Bravos Dodgers Brewers Rockies Cardinals
Dodgers Coors Brewers Cardinals Cardinals Dodgers

 

World Series

Derek Jesse John Kevin Bernie Winning Run
World Series Red Sox Coors Dodgers Brewers Yankees Cardinals
Cardinals Colt .45’s Yankees Yankees Cardinals Yankees

 

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Sorry CC Sabathia it is not looking good for you to end your career with a World Series victory. This one’s for you CC. (Kim Klement- USA TODAY Sports)

Our apologies to the New York Yankees because our prediction means they’re probably not going to win this year. We have been wrong the last five years, why change now.

BL with DJ, JJ, JB, & KB

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Royal Flush

The Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets in five games to win the 2015 World Series.  Half of The Winning Run staff (Bernie and myself) were correct in our predictions for which team would win.  However, while we expected the Royals to win, we did not expect the Mets to lose so quickly.  The Mets seemed to run out of steam in the World Series.  Their bats went cold, the back half of the bullpen became wobbly Jell-O, and the team seemed to forget how to play fundamentally sound baseball.  This doomed the boys from Flushing.

The Mets and Royals both played like a team.  No single player led them to victory or defeat; rather the teams, as a whole, decided their fates.  The Mets held the lead in all five games; in four of the five games the Mets held the lead at least through the end of the 7th inning.  New York got quality pitching out of their starters.  The issues arose when the starters were left in for too long (Game 5, Matt Harvey) or when the bullpen had to hold a close lead late in the game.  Mets’ closer Jeurys Familia blew three saves.  Blaming an error here or a poor decision there for the Mets defeat would be easy.  However, the Royals victory was as much a team effort as the Mets defeat was a team effort and the numbers show it.

Terry Collins left Matt Harvey in Game 5 just a little too long and it cost the Mets. (www.knbr.com)

Terry Collins left Matt Harvey in Game 5 just a little too long and it cost the Mets. (www.knbr.com)

Hitting

The Royals had the advantage on offense.  Kansas City had 197 AB, 47 Hits, 10 Doubles, 1 Triple, 2 HR, 25 RBI, and 27 R in the World Series.  The Royals drew 17 BB against 37 SO.  Kansas City had a .239 BA, .295 OBP .330 SLG, .625 OPS, and were 7 for 7 in Stolen Bases.

The Mets had 181 AB, 35 Hits, 1 Double, 0 Triples, 6 HR, 18 RBI, and 19 R in the World Series.  New York drew 14 BB against 46 SO.  The Mets had a .193 BA, .254 OBP, .298 SLG, .552 OPS, and were 1 for 3 in Stolen Bases.

The Difference

The Royals and Mets both sent 16 different players to the plate during the World Series.  Kansas City had 16 more At Bats and collected 12 more hits.  The Mets displayed their power by hitting 4 more HR.  While the Royals did not hit many balls out of the park, they collected 9 more Doubles and the only Triple in the World Series.  Kansas City collected 7 more RBI with 3 more BB and 9 fewer SO.  Putting the ball in play more consistently resulted in the Royals having a .046 higher BA, a .041 higher OBP, a .032 higher SLG, and a .073 higher OPS.  Additionally, the Royals attempted 4 more Stolen Bases than the Mets and collected 6 more Stolen Bases.  The Royals were constantly pressuring the Mets.

The Royals knew they would not win trying to engage in a slugging contest with the Mets, thus Kansas City relied on their speed and ability to get on base.  Putting pressure on the New York defense paid off, as the Mets committed six errors in the four World Series games they lost.  These errors, from Daniel Murphy missing a ground ball to New York’s inability to turn a double play, gave Kansas City more opportunities to score.  The boys from Flushing seemingly forgot how to play fundamentally sound baseball when it counted the most.

Eric Hosmer's dash home in the 9th inning of Game 5. (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

Eric Hosmer’s dash home in the 9th inning of Game 5. (Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports)

The 9th inning of Game 5 is the perfect example of the Mets not playing fundamentally sound baseball.  Eric Hosmer is on third after a double and moving to third due to a ground out to the right side of the infield.  Salvador Perez hits an easy chopper to David Wright at third.  Before throwing to first to put out Perez, Wright briefly looks Eric Hosmer back to third.  Instead of looking Hosmer back longer, Wright hurried his look back in order to throw out the slow running Perez.  As soon as Wright began his throw to first, Hosmer broke for home.  The Royals scouting report said Kansas City had a good chance to score a run with Wright throwing to Lucas Duda at first.  David Wright has had to alter his throwing motion to a more side arm throw due to a shoulder injury, and he no longer has a strong arm to throw across the infield.  Duda likewise does not have a good throwing arm, although not due to an arm injury.  Wright’s weakened throw to first, Duda having to stretch for the ball then quickly adjust into a throwing position to deliver a good throw to Travis d’Arnaud at home meant the Royals had a good chance to score.  Hosmer’s dash home would have been for nothing had Duda delivered a good throw.  However, his throw was well off the mark, missing d’Arnaud completely and allowing Hosmer to score the tying run that eventually sent the game into extra innings.  Putting pressure on the defense forcing them to make plays, or forcing pitchers to make more stressful pitches out of the stretch wears on a team.  The Royals put the ball in play and used their speed to put more and more pressure on the Mets, until New York faltered, enabling Kansas City to take advantage.

Pitching

The fight between the Royals and Mets pitchers favored the Royals.  In total, the Royals used 11 pitchers over 52 innings.  The starters pitched 31.1 innings and the bullpen pitched 20.2 innings for Kansas City.  Royals’ pitchers gave up 35 Hits, 19 R, 17 ER, and 14 BB, with 46 SO. As a team, Kansas City pitchers had a 2.94 ERA and a 0.942 WHIP.

The Mets used 11 different pitchers over 51.1 innings. New York’s starters pitched 30 innings and the bullpen pitched 21.1 innings.  Mets pitchers gave up 47 Hits, 27 R, 24 ER, and 17 BB, with 37 SO.  New York pitchers collectively had a 4.21 ERA and a 1.247 WHIP.

The Difference

The Mets and Royals used the same number of pitchers, 11, during the World Series.  Kansas City pitchers had to pitch 0.2 fewer innings due to more victories at home and leading going into the 9th inning.  The Royals starters pitched 1.1 more innings and the Kansas City bullpen pitched 0.2 fewer innings.  The Mets gave up 12 more hits, 8 more Earned Runs, 7 more Runs, had 9 fewer strikeouts, and issued 3 more walks than Kansas City.  The advantage of the Royals is most glaring in their 1.27 lower ERA less KC and 0.305 lower WHIP.

One of the critical turning points of the World Series came in Game 2 with Johnny Cueto’s complete game victory for the Royals.  Aside from putting Kansas City up 2-0 against the Mets in a best of seven series, Cueto’s effort allowed the Royals bullpen to recover from the 14 inning marathon in Game 1.  The Mets bullpen used five pitchers for 7 1/3 innings of relief in Game 1, while the Royals bullpen used six pitchers for 8 innings of relief.  In Game 2, the Mets had to use four pitchers over three innings when Jacob deGrom was pulled after going five innings.  Cueto’s complete game allowed the Royals to completely rest their bullpen in Game 2.  This extra day of rest before the travel day to New York gave Kansas City an advantage heading into the rest of the series.

Johnny Cueto saved the Royals bullpen with his Game 2 complete game. (www.kingsofkauffman.com)

Johnny Cueto saved the Royals bullpen with his Game 2 complete game. (www.kingsofkauffman.com)

Two full days of rest are invaluable when every pitch means so much.  Ned Yost was not faced with the same bullpen concerns as Terry Collins.  The Royals could afford to pull their starters, if necessary, in the following games unlike the Mets.  New York did win Game 3, but being forced into their bullpen after Yordano Ventura went 3 1/3 innings at worst pulled the Royals back even with the Mets.  Cueto’s complete game prevented the Royals from blowing out their bullpen in Game 3 enabling the bullpen to remain strong and keep the Mets from building large leads in Games 4 and 5.  Keeping the Mets close enough until the bats came alive in the late innings enabled the Royals to win the World Series after coming back from behind in all four of the games they won.

The Results

The Royals winning the World Series in just five games may give the illusion that the Mets were over matched.  However, the series was much closer than it might appear.  Kansas City capitalized on their opportunities by manufacturing runs and forcing New York to make mistakes under pressure.  The Mets were not defeated because of their inability to match up with the Royals; they lost because their fundamentals broke down at critical moments and were unable to build large leads or hold smaller leads in the late innings.

Kansas City Royals, 2015 World Series champions. (www.heraldvoice.com)

Kansas City Royals, 2015 World Series champions. (www.heraldvoice.com)

Both the Royals and the Mets played team baseball.  Neither team was too reliant upon a single player or a hand full of players.  The 2015 World Series was truly about who had the better 25-player roster.  Kansas City’s bullpen had to pitch slightly fewer innings but had a crucial extra day of rest.  The Kansas City offense was able to put the ball in play more to force the Mets defense to make a play.  Generally, New York made the plays they needed to, however the Mets did eventually make mistakes and, with the Royals constantly getting on base, these mistakes cost New York runs and games.  More than anything these slight differences between the Royals and Mets are why Kansas City is celebrating their first World Series championship in 30 years and why the Mets are left to wonder what they could have done differently.

DJ