In the wee hours of the morning, on November 2nd of 2015, an event happened. This particular event was beautiful yet painful, joyful yet somber, fulfilling yet disappointing. This event, of course, was the conclusion of the 2015 World Series. The series-style playoff, by nature, has the potential to be incredibly fulfilling and exciting or anticlimactic and disappointing. You might get a four-game blowout (maybe entertaining to fans of the winning side, but otherwise not really appealing), or you might get an epic seven-game battle that isn’t decided until the final innings. At the end of the whole thing, whether it takes four or five or six or seven games, you have a winner and a loser. This, in and of itself, is a bittersweet thing. The joy you sense from watching the victorious team’s celebration is immediately counteracted by those painful glimpses of the losing team which the television broadcast invariably shows you every couple minutes. It’s hard seeing the juxtaposition of a team so consumed by elation while their opponent – mere feet away – quickly realizes that despite getting so damn close, they failed. Sure, winning the pennant is nice, but in the grown-up world you don’t get much appreciation for coming in second place. Ultimately, and more importantly in the grand scheme of things, the conclusion of the World Series means the conclusion of the 2015 MLB season. After having baseball in our lives nearly every day since spring training began was back in February and March, it’s so quickly gone. We knew the end was coming, but we had so little time to prepare (especially in this situation, which we’ll talk about later).
Did we mention that the Kansas City Royals won this installment (the 111th, for those of you keeping track at home) of the World Series? I feel that may be an important detail. While we’re talking details, I suppose I should mention that the Royals defeated the New York Mets, in five games. The final game, played in Flushing, Queens, New York, New York, USA (how ridiculous is that to type out?) at Citi Field, ended after 12 tumultuous innings with the score 7-2 in favor of the Royals. Now, if the specifics of this series interest you in any way, I suggest you read on. If you’d rather talk more about the emotional ramifications of the end of the baseball season, I suggest you contact your therapist and schedule an appointment soon (’cause seriously, there’s not gonna be any more baseball for a while).
New York Mets (90-72) vs. Kansas City Royals (95-67)
Kansas City wins series, 4-1
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this series. Part of me wants to say “I told you so,” to those of whom told me the Mets’ pitching was too good for the Royals. Part of me wants to give credit to the Royals for never giving up and always finding a way to win. Part of me wants to say that the Royals got lucky and that the Mets should’ve won or at least still be alive in the series. I’m not sure which one of these avenues of thought is most appropriate, so I’ll try to stay away from them and instead just present what happened from an objective standpoint. However, it should be noted that there’s certainly truth to all three trains of thought – the Royals did handle the Mets’ pitchers pretty well, they fought tooth and nail to get all four of their wins, and the Mets did make some costly mistakes to help the Royals win those fights.
On the Royals’ side, no one player stood out offensively in the way Daniel Murphy did for the Mets in the NLCS, but instead the offense came together as a unit by virtue of valuable contribution from nearly every member of the team. Alcides Escobar hit only 6-for-26, but recorded a hit in every game (bringing his postseason hit streak to a record 12) and drove in four runs while scoring four himself. Mike Moustakas recorded 7 hits in 23 trips, driving in three runs and striking out only once. Ben Zobrist clobbered four doubles,scored five runs, and walked thrice against just two strikeouts. Lorenzo Cain stole four bases, drew four walks, and drove in four runs. Salvador Perez, the eventual World Series MVP, caught every inning of the series until he was pinch ran for in the 12th of Sunday’s Game 5. Perez also hit 8-for-22 (.364) with a pair of doubles, striking out only twice. Eric Hosmer hit .190 but drove in six runs. Alex Gordon hit a huge solo homer in the ninth inning of Game 1, drove in three runs for the series, and drew an impressive five walks. Alex Rios was the Royals’ worst starter as far as batting average is concerned (2-for-15, .133) but managed to score two runs and drive in one of his own. Kendrys Morales, in limited playing time due to the NL rules, struggled but managed to record two hits and a walk in 11 plate appearances. The eventual series-winning RBI was recorded by Christian Colon, who had a total of zero postseason at-bats before he pinch hit in the 12th inning of Game 5 with Jarrod Dyson on third base and the score tied 2-2. Edinson Volquez even got a hit!
The Royals pitching staff was just as good as the offense, if not better. Outside of Yordano Ventura and Franklin Morales, no pitcher had an ERA above 3.86 and 5 different relievers recorded 0.00 ERAs. Edinson Volquez turned in a pair of quality starts to bookend the series, despite hit father’s passing the day of Game 1. Johnny Cueto dominated Game 2, turning in a complete-game two-hitter to end his inconsistent postseason on a high note. Chris Young picked up the win with 3 innings of scoreless relief in Game 1 and then turned in four serviceable innings in Game 4 before turning the ball over to the dominant bullpen. Kelvin Herrera, Luke Hochevar, Wade Davis, and Ryan Madson combined to allow zero earned runs in 17 innings (one unearned by Herrera), while giving up just 12 hits and three walks against an impressive 21 strikeouts.
The Mets have few positives to look back on in this series, especially offensively. Curtis Granderson went 5-for-20 with three homers, five RBI and four walks against a pair or punchouts, scoring six runs along the way (three times as many as any other Met). Michael Conforto hit 5-for-15 with a pair of homers and four RBI, and that was about the end of the Mets’ offensive production. Even Daniel Murphy hit just .150 (although he walked five times) and the Mets as a squad hit just .193 across the five games. The pitching was a little better, but not good enough to best the Royals. Matt Harvey was the Mets’ best starter, turning in six solid innings in Game 1 and then eight-plus in Game 5, before giving up a walk and double which eventually led to the Royals’ comeback win. The bullpen was pretty miserable, and (through some bad luck and one bad quick-pitch) seemingly unflappable closer Jeurys Familia set an MLB record for most blown saves in a World Series with three. That says more about the Mets as a whole than it does Familia, who was inserted into less-than-favorable situations in two of the three blown saves. But hey, Hansel Robles worked two scoreless innings and allowed no baserunners while picking up a couple strikeouts in two appearances. Good work Hansel.
Original Prediction: Royals in 6
Result: Royals in 5
Overall, it was a pleasure watching a great group of ballplayers and teammates come together against some poor odds to win the ultimate crown of all baseball – the World Series championship. However, as I mentioned earlier, seeing a good team like the Mets lose in such a manner is a bit tough. Fortunately, there’s always next year. Unfortunately, next year is a long way away, for now. Over the offseason, I’ll do my best to keep content coming out on a consistent basis, probably a couple times a week or maybe more, I don’t know. The difficult, yet exciting and fun, part of the offseason is that you can’t rely on game results or performances to give you content to write on, you have to create it yourself. Therefore, my ability to produce content is entirely dependent on my ability to dream up ideas of things to write about. As a little help, I’d love to hear some ideas from you guys on what you’d like to read about! As always, I’m available to be contacted on Twitter @MRRblog, on Facebook as “Middle Relief Report”, and via comments to this blog! Any and all interaction is always welcomed and appreciated. I’ve enjoyed experiencing and chronicling this postseason with you all and I am truly thankful to every single reader I have. I’m looking forward to an exciting offseason!
Statistics credit Baseball-Reference.com.