The ALCS begins Oct.
Baltimore last won the World Series in 1983 disposing of the Philadelphia Phillies in five games to win their third title. Catcher Rick Dempsey was the MVP of the Series hitting .385 with four doubles and a homer. Cal Ripken Jr. had a season for the ages that year slashing .318/.371/.517 with 47 doubles, two triples, 27 home runs, and 102 RBI. He led the majors with 121 runs, 211 hits, 113 double plays turned, and an 8.2 WAR on his way to being named AL MVP. Eddie Murray, Ken Singleton, and John Lowenstein rounded out the lineup. Mike Boddicker was the O’s top pitcher going 16-8 with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. Tippy Martinez had a great year out of the bullpen. Jim Palmer got a win in relief in the pivotal Game 3 with the I-95 Series tied 1-1 and Steve Carlton on the mound for Philly. With that victory Palmer set the record for most years between World Series wins having originally gotten a W in 1966. The 1983 championship season was also the last trip the Birds made to the Series.
Kansas City’s last trip the playoffs was their only championship season in 1985. 2014 is their first postseason appearance since, having finally ended 29 years of misery in which they garnered the dubious distinction of being the team to miss the postseason the most consecutive years of any team in any of the five major American pro-sports leagues. That record now belongs to the Toronto Blue Jays who have missed the playoffs 20 straight times. The ’85 Royals were led by AL Cy Young-winner Bret Saberhagen who went 20-6 with a 2.87 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. Charlie Liebrandt went 17-9 with a 2.69 ERA and Dan Quisenberry was lights-out in relief as usual leading the league in saves (with 37) for the fourth straight year and fifth time in six years. George Brett had a monster season slashing a ridiculous .335/.436/.585 with 30 jacks, 112 RBI, and 108 runs while snagging a gold glove. They had speed to burn much like today’s Royals with Willie Wilson stealing 43 bases and Lonnie Smith swiping 40.
The 1985 World Series lives in infamy thanks to “The Call” made by first base umpire Don Denkinger in Game 6. The St. Louis Cardinals seemed to have the championship wrapped up leading three games to two, and up 1-0 in the 9th inning. Jorge Orta led off against Todd Worrell and squibbed a chopper to first which was fielded by Jack Clark who flipped to Worrell covering the bag for what appeared to be a routine groundout. Denkinger blew the call and the rest is history. Steve Balboni singles and then – after a bunt that led to a fielder’s choice at 3rd, a passed ball, and an intentional walk – Dan Iorg won the game with a pinch-hit two run single. The Royals then took Game 7 11-0.
The 2014 versions of the Orioles and Royals make for an intriguing matchup. Baltimore smashed 211 home runs, the most of any team in the majors; The Royals only hit 95 homers, dead-last in baseball. Conversely, K.C. led the majors in stolen bases with 153 while Baltimore was last in baseball snagging only 44. The Orioles scored 54 more runs, but the Royals had a higher team batting average and on base percentage. On the pitching side the teams are even-steven. The Royals had a team ERA of 3.51 and a team WHIP of 1.26 while the O’s sported a 3.44 and a 1.24 in those categories respectively. Neither team gets a lot of strikeouts and both teams play phenomenal defense.
Let’s breakdown the positions:
CATCHER: Salvador Pérez (KC) vs. Nick Hundley/Caleb Joseph (BAL) – Neither team boasts a very consistent hitter at the catcher position, but Pérez has way more power than either member of the Baltimore platoon. Pérez had also picked up some clutch hits in the playoffs so far, and is arguably the best defensive catcher in the American League. ADVANTAGE: Royals.
1B: Steve Pearce (BAL) vs. Eric Hosmer (KC) – Hosmer had a disappointing year for the Royals and has significantly less pop than the average first baseman. Pearce had a breakout year at the age of 31, posting career-highs in every statistical category. His emergence has filled the hole created by the terrible season of Chris Davis, and he’s a cut above Hosmer. ADVANTAGE: Orioles.
2B: Jonathan Schoop (BAL) vs. Omar Infante (KC) – Neither guy had a banner year and despite Infante’s propensity for making clutch plays, Schoop has more power and a better glove. ADVANTAGE: Orioles. 3B: Ryan Flaherty (BAL) vs. Mike Moustakas (KC) – Both of these guys are below average third baseman. ADVANTAGE: N/A.
SS: Alcides Escobar (KC) vs. J.J. Hardy (BAL) – Hardy didn’t have a bad year but he only hit 9 home runs, he usually hits 20-25. Escobar stole 31 bags and was a more consistent hitter. Hardy’s glove is better, but Escobar ain’t no slouch. ADVANTAGE: Royals.
LF: Alex Gordon (KC) vs. Alejandro De Aza/Delmon Young (BAL) – Gordon is the Royals’ best player having slashed .266/.351/.432 with 19 homers, 74 RBI, and another gold glove caliber season in left. De Aza has been hot since joining the O’s and Young has had his share of big hits in the playoffs but Gordon’s 6.4 WAR is the highest of any player in the series. ADVANTAGE: Royals.
CF: Adam Jones (BAL) vs. Lorenzo Cain (KC) – Cain was the Royals leading hitter with a .301 average in 2014. He added 28 steals and gold glove defense. Jones is the best player on the Orioles having hit .281/.311/.469 this season with 29 homers and 96 RBI. He also possesses great speed and range in the outfield. Cain is a great center fielder but Jones is as good as it gets. ADVANTAGE: Orioles.
RF: Nick Markakis (BAL) vs. Nori Aoki (KC) – Aoki is an unorthodox player that is fun to watch. Both players are tough to strikeout. Markasis has a little more pop and is a shade better with the glove. ADVANTAGE: Orioles.
DH: Nelson Cruz (BAL) vs. Billy Butler (KC) – Butler had a subpar year performing well below his normal production level while Cruz had a career-year. He hit .271/.333/.525 with 108 RBI while leading the majors with 40 home runs. He is the most dangerous hitter in the series. ADVANTAGE: Orioles.
STARTING PITCHING: James Shields, Yordano Ventura, Jason Vargas, Danny Duffy/Jeremy Guthrie (KC) vs. Wei-Yin Chen, Chris Tillman, Bud Norris, Miguel Gonzalez/Kevin Gausman (BAL) – Shields is the best pitcher in the series, Guthrie is the worst. Neither team has a dominant ace nor does either team have anything resembling a below average staff. All ten guys are good pitchers. ADVANTAGE: N/A.
RELIEF PITCHING: Greg Holland, Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Jason Frasor, Brandon Finnegan (KC) vs. Zach Britton, Darren O’Day, Andrew Miller, Tommy Hunter, Brad Brach (BAL) – Both teams have dominant closers, top-notch setup men, and excellent depth. There aren’t any bad pitchers in these pens, which is one of the main reasons why they’re the last two standing in the AL. ADVANTAGE N/A.
Article By: Anthony Schiano