(CBS) — Everything points to a fantastic Fall Classic between two clubs that know how to gut out close victories.
The Royals will be the sentimental favorite, after coming out of the pack and winning an unbelievable eight straight postseason games. This will be their first World Series appearance since 1985.
The Giants are a team that impresses few with overall talent. The only real star player is catcher Buster Posey. Pitching is king for this San Francisco team, which is making its third World Series stop since 2010. The Giants have won eight straight postseason series, including World Series titles in 2010 and 2012.
Most prognosticators will do the matchup thing and come away believing the Royals have an edge in the bullpen, on defense and with overall team speed. All of that may indeed be true. In the world of matchups, you would be tempted to agree that the hot team with the edge in everything except starting pitching should win this series rather easily.
My best guess has Madison Bumgarner winning Game 1 and Game 5 of this series that looks entertaining. If necessary, the best starting pitcher on either club should be ready on short notice to pitch as long as he can in Game 7, if needed. I love the postseason experience of Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong (1.91 ERA) and the animated Jake Peavy. Veteran Tim Hudson, making his first World Series appearance, adds another solid pro in Game 3. Vogelsong is just icing on the cake for the steely nerved Giants rotation. Two-time Cy Young award winner Tim Lincecum will be a long man for the rock-solid bullpen if one of the starters gets into trouble.
The Royals will have to prove to me that the distraction of media, family and friends won’t make a slight difference, compared to the battle-tested Giants. Manager Ned Yost is great at handling his own group of players. Years of managing and coaching in the National League will eliminate the double-switch concerns that will occur in the middle three games in San Francisco.
Although managers don’t play each other, their chess moves are always under direct scrutiny in the postseason. Bruce Bochy is considered the top manager in the game for more than just winning two World Series in the last four seasons. Bochy handles a bullpen like all of the previous masters of World Series history. Having the luxury of two excellent left-handed bullpen veterans could be the key to an outcome or two.
The smart money will be going with the Royals in a seven-game series. Just the four possible home games for Kansas City should be the difference in the eyes of the oddsmakers. I like Bochy and his men in six. Bumgarner to me is key.
Regardless of the winner, the postseason has been extremely well-played and a boon to the game. The only question is if anybody east of Kansas City will turn off the pro or college game of the weekend in order to watch the Royals and Giants.
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.