Every October, I write about how unpredictable the playoffs are and then make playoff predictions. As a guy with a baseball blog, I feel like I’m shirking some duty if I don’t tell everyone who will listen who I think will win a particular playoff series.
I haven’t read a prediction piece yet that said the Royals would sweep eight games against the A’s, Angels, and Orioles. I don’t think anyone guessed that Matt Adams would homer against Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner or that Jake Peavy would give up two total runs in his first two playoff starts. I’m likely to look foolish no matter what I predict, so I might as well make some predictions that will make me look prescient if they somehow come true. Here we go:
1. Nori Aoki will hit a homer in this series. Aoki hit one home run in 549 regular-season plate appearances. Still, Ned Yost starts him in right field every night, squeezing in a few at-bats before replacing him with Jarrod Dyson to form the ultimate outfield. Aoki’s a career .287 hitter with some patience, and he actually reached double digits in homers his rookie year in Milwaukee, but he doesn’t exactly fit the profile of a World Series right fielder. He’ll surprise us this week.
2. The three-headed monster will give up a homer. Neither Kelvin Herrera nor Wade Davis gave up a single home run in 2014. Greg Holland gave up just three. The even-year Giants will find a way to break through against this trio by the end of the series.
3. Gregor Blanco will put his stamp on one game this series. We’ve come to expect big things from Posey, Sandoval, and Pence. Brandon Crawford hit a grand slam in the Wild Card game against Pittsburgh. Brandon Belt hit the 18th-inning homer that defined the Division Series. Travis Ishikawa hit the series-ending homer that slayed the cardinals. Joe Panik has hit .305 with a dinger in the playoffs so far. Blanco may be the last anonymous starter the Giants have.
4. Someone other than Bumgarner and Shields will pitch the best game of the series. Madison Bumgarner is clearly the best pitcher in this series, and he’s been hot over the past few months. James Shields occasionally lives up to the convenient “Big Game” moniker. Peavy, Hudson, and Vogelsong are all on the wrong side of 30 and far removed from their primes, but the Giants tend to find magic in the postseason. Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas strike fear in no one, but they’ve been moret han adequate in the playoffs so far. Yordano Ventura will cross 200 innings for this season in Game Two, a big total for a 23-year-old. One of these guys will pitch a gem in this series.
5. Jarrod Dyson or Terrance Gore will get caught stealing. Speed and defense are Kansas City’s game. Both of these guys should expect multiple pinch running assignments this week. One of them will blow his big chance.
6. The Giants will win in five games. I don’t want to pick a winner. I’m not more of an expert in this than anyone. Since the ALCS ended, I’ve been telling people I’m sick of picking against the Royals, I’m ready to admit they’re really good, and they’re going to win the World Series. During the empty, baseball-less, five-day void, I’ve been convinced otherwise. The Giants hit a little better. Their starting rotation is deeper. Their bullpen is not much weaker than the Royals’ more celebrated crew. They’re almost certainly better managed. It’s an overblown narrative, but Kansas City has been sitting around too long thinking about whether they’re actually as good as they’ve been this month. The Royals’ run is over.
I hope I’m wrong.