The evolution of the two teams in this year’s World Series, the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals, over the past year was significantly different. The Royals closed out the Mets in the World Series last night.
Of course, as I am sure everyone knows, the Royals won a Wild Card spot last year, finishing in second place, one game behind the Detroit Tigers, in the American League Central Division with a record of 89-73. They then went all the way to the World Series before losing Game 7 to the San Francisco Giants who were also a Wild Card winner in the National League.
The Mets, on the other hand, did not make the Playoffs at all last year, finishing in third place in the Eastern Division of the National League, 17 games behind the winners, the Washington Nationals, with a record of 79-83.
To get to this year’s World Series, the Royals got by the Astros in the ALDS, three games to two and beat the Blue Jays in the ALCS four to two. The Mets, won the NLDS, beating the Dodgers, three games to two and then swept the Cubs in the NLCS four straight to reach the Big Dance.
For the first time in history, both teams in the World Series were expansion era teams. In every other World Series, one or both teams were franchises from the original 16.
The two clubs made major changes over the past year to get to the World Series. Both teams had twelve players, out of twenty-five on their rosters, that were not on the roster at the end of last year.
Despite last year’s success, the Royals added six pitchers from other teams, getting Johnny Cueto, from the Reds, Ryan Madsen, from the Phillies, Kris Medlen, from the Braves, Franklin Morales, from the Rockies, Edinson Volquez, from the Pirates and Chris Young, from the Mariners.
They also added catcher Drew Butera, from the Angels, second baseman and utility player, Ben Zobrist, from the Athletics, right fielder Alex Rios, from the Rangers and designated hitter, Kendrys Morales, from the Mariners. In addition, they had two rookies, outfielder Paulo Orlando and infielder Raul Mondesi. Ten of the twelve players the Royals added had Major League experience.
The Mets, on the other hand, added two relief pitchers from other teams, Tyler Clippard, from the Athletics and Addison Reed, from the Diamondbacks. They picked up infielder Kelly Johnson, from Atlanta and outfielders Yoenis Cespedes, from the Tigers, infielder Juan Uribe, from the Braves and outfielder Michael Cuddyer, from the Rockies.
In addition to these six players from other teams, the Mets added six rookies. They had four rookie pitchers, Sean Gilmartin, Steven Matz, Hansel Robles and Noah Syndergaard. They also added rookie catcher, Kevin Pawlecki, and outfielder, designated hitter Michael Conforto. Six of the twelve players the Mets added had no Major League experience before this year.
Even with the addition of twelve new players each, both teams’ lineups were dominated by veteran players who had been with the club for extended periods. Of the Royals eight usual starting position players, five came to them in 2011, catcher, Salvador Perez, first baseman, Eric Hosmer, third baseman, Mike Moustakas, shortstop, Alcides Escobar and center fielder Lorenzo Cain. Left fielder Alex Gordon had been there nine years and only Zobrist and Rios are new to the organization this year.
Of the Mets eight usual position players, eight had been with the team for two years or more. The only new player was center fielder Yoenis Cespedes. Right fielder Curtis Granderson has been there for two years, center fielder Juan Lagares, catcher Travis d’Arnaud and shortstop Wilmer Flores, three, first baseman Lucas Duda, six, second baseman Daniel Murphy, eight, and third baseman David Wright, fifteen.
As for the starting pitching, three of the four starters for the Royals, Cueto, Volquez and Young were new this year and Ventura has been with them three years. By contrast, all of the Mets starters had either been with the Mets or were in the Mets system. Matt Harvey was in his fourth year with the Mets, one of which he lost to Tommy John surgery, and Jacob DeGron was in his second year in New York. The other two starters, Syndergaard and Matz were both rookies. Although Syndergaard was originally drafted by the Blue Jays in 2010, he came to the Mets system in a trade in 2012.
Of the seven non starting pitchers each team carried into the World Series, three of the Royals were picked up from other teams after last year. The other four were with the team. Of the Mets non starters, two were from other teams, two were rookies and three were with the team.
Obviously, both teams had significant changes to their roster and, in terms of Major League experience, the Royals added more. However, there is a tradeoff there. Of the regular eight position players on each team, four Royals, Zobrist, Escobar, Gordon and Rios, and only two Mets Cespedes and Murphy, become Free Agents at the end of this season.
Two of the Royals starting pitchers in the series, Cueto and Young, and their Closer Davis are Free Agents at the end of the year and Volquez becomes a Free Agent next year, while the Mets four starters and Closer, Harvey, DeGrom, Syndergaard, Matz and Familia are all tied to the Mets until at least 2019.
The Royals may have won this World Series but the Mets appear to have the advantage for the future. Pitching is the name of the game and DeGrom, at age 27, is the oldest of these five key Mets pitchers.
The Mets have the potential to dominate the National League East, and maybe the entire National League, for several years.