A Tale of Two Small Markets

Once upon a time, in a baseball galaxy far, far away...

PITTSBURGH—Seamus here. The three of us are settled into adjoining rooms at the William Penn Hotel, the Steel City primed for Game One later today. The way these two teams battled all year (check out the final pennant race graphs for the AL and NL that I forgot to show you yesterday), I’d be amazed if this thing didn’t go six or seven games. Then again, that’s why we roll the dice.

Here’s Lester and Dr. Sheila with breakdowns of their teams, followed by my swing votes. Keep it civil, you two.

FIRST BASE
(Royals) John Mayberry
Great fielder, decent power, and could pop a few out to right at Three Rivers.

(Pirates) Willie Stargell, Bill Robinson
Mr. Stargell was hurt for much of the season, but recovered triumphantly on every occasion. The large individual they call “Pops” batted .280 with 24 home runs, 72 RBIs and a .988 OPS in just 296 at bats. Robinson, who plays first against left-handed pitching, finished at .300, with 27 home runs and 113 RBIs.

ADVANTAGE PITTSBURGH

SECOND BASE
(Royals) Frank White
Not much of a hitter but a superb fielder and base runner, and can bail K.C. pitchers out of many innings.

(Pirates) Rennie Stennett
A .303 hitter and like Mr. Stargell, very clutchy when not sidelined. Nearly as good a fielder as White.

ADVANTAGE PITTSBURGH

SHORTSTOP
(Royals) Freddie Patek
One of those scrappy, gritty, lunch pail kind of nifty and keen players. Also steals lots of bases, has a small amount of pop in his bat and can turn double plays with White when he isn’t making errors.

(Pirates) Frank Taveras
Also steals bases, occasionally hits, but fields ground balls like he’s fighting off bees.

ADVANTAGE KANSAS CITY

THIRD BASE
(Royals) George Brett
Fourth in the MVP voting at .330, with 21 homers, 103 RBIs and a .927 OPS. A bit sketchy around the bag, but does absolutely everything else.

(Pirates) Phil Garner
The individual they coin “Scrap Iron” struck 22 home runs and had the pennant-winning hit, is a fine base runner and better-than-average fielder. And I admire his fat rodent of a moustache.

ADVANTAGE KANSAS CITY

LEFT FIELD
(Royals) Tom Poquette, Joe Zdeb
A workmanlike platoon arrangement. Both had some big hits, both fielded well enough to be out there.

(Pirates) Bill Robinson, Fernando Gonzalez
Another platoon, with frightening gloves but much more power.

—DRAW—

CENTER FIELD
(Royals) Amos Otis
Best defender on either team. Amos batted just .246, but with 15 homers, great speed, and countless runs saved in the outfield.

(Pirates) Al Oliver
Far weaker with his glove, but .304, 24 home runs, 76 RBIs and a .852 OPS make him a decided threat.

—DRAW—

RIGHT FIELD
(Royals) Al Cowens
The runner-up MVP. Slightly worse hitting stats than Brett (.323, 22 homers, 103 RBIs, .881 OPS) but incredibly clutch and a faultless outfielder with the same killer arm as Otis.

(Pirates) Dave Parker
My hero. .365, 32 homers, 133 RBIs, 1.021 OPS. Incredible arm, great base runner. Mr. Headley has to bring me a cool drink whenever he bats.

ADVANTAGE PITTSBURGH

CATCHER
(Royals) Darrell Porter, John Wathan
Both hit equally well against righties and lefties, with Porter having the far better arm. Like Mayberry, Porter could be a power force in Pittsburgh.

(Pirates) Ed Ott, Duffy Dyer
Less of everything than the KC catchers possess, but just as many productive, timely hits.

ADVANTAGE KANSAS CITY

DESIGNATED HITTER
(Royals) Hal McRae
Fearsome DH. A .308 average with 44 doubles, 17 homers, 97 RBIs and .874 OPS. Flattens left-handed pitching, which the Pirates have much of.

(Pirates) At press time, Mr. Lackey has yet to notify me of his designated hitter plans for the middle three games, so I will refrain from offering any—COUGH COUGH Fregosi COUGH—suggestions.

ADVANTAGE KANSAS CITY

BENCH

(Royals) Cookie Rojas, Bob Heise, Pete LaCock, Dave Nelson, Joe Lahoud, Willie Wilson, Buck Martinez
LaCock and Lahoud offer a bit of la batting average and la power, and Wilson is the best pinch-runner on either team.

(Pirates) Jim Fregosi, Ken Macha, Omar Moreno, Jerry Hairston, Miguel Dilone, Bobby Tolan and yes it’s true, Mario Mendoza
Fregosi is a walking machine, Moreno a late-inning defense fill-in, and Macha had a fine collection of meaningful hits toward the end. The rest of the specimens can be incinerated.

—DRAW—

STARTING PITCHING
(Royals) Leonard, Splittorff, Colborn
One ace, two unpredictables

(Pirates) Candelaria, Rooker, Kison
One ace, two unpredictables. Reuss could have been the third hurler but lost 16 games, had a grotesque WHIP of 1.56 and McRae really needs to face at least one right-hander.

—DRAW—

MIDDLE RELIEF

(Royals) Pattin, Hassler, Bird, Gura
Pattin and Hassler are good enough to start, and should bring much-needed depth to the Royal pen. Bird and Gura are bad enough to watch.

(Pirates) Grant Jackson, Terry Forster, Odell Jones, Larry Demery
Mr. Jackson is perhaps the only reliable entry here, though Mr. Reuss can also be used in a desperate pinch.

ADVANTAGE KANSAS CITY

CLOSERS

(Royals) Steve Mingori, Mark Littell
Mingori was generally putrid (1.69 WHIP) but Littell was a nerve-wracking beast.

(Pirates) Kent Tekulve, Goose Gossage
One is a string bean, one a handlebarred specimen able to unleash utter fear.

ADVANTAGE PITTSBURGH

You guys done? Okay. I count a 5-4 advantage for the Royals, with four draws, which of course, probably won’t mean squat. But I can hardly wait to find out.

GAME ONE LIVE TWEETCAST is tonight at 10:30 p.m. eastern, 9:30 central, on the Funkyball Twitter Network. It isn’t official yet, but there’s a chance broadcasting legend Red Barber will be summoned to report the action. If that’s just too weird for you, the game story will be safely here in the morning.

As a pre-game special, I’ll be co-hosting “Tumbling Dice,” the Seamheads/Strat podcast with Mike Lynch at 9 p.m. eastern right here to discuss the Series and my semi-rampaging 1931 A’s in the Strat Anniversary League.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “A Tale of Two Small Markets

  1. Mike

    Garner over Brett at 3B. IMHO, that’s a little far fetched. Again, just my opinion.

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