Veteran scout picks Royals over Mets in 111th World Series

By Bob Elliott
KANSAS CITY _ The 111th World Series begins on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.

It isn’t a match made in post-season heaven (Yankees-Dodgers, Cardinals-Red Sox or Red-Tigers).

No, the New York Mets and the Kansas City Royals have little history.

Well, OK, tiny history. They have met three time during 19 years of inter-league series: Aug. 2-4, 2013, at Citi Field in Flushing, June 11-13, 2004 at Kauffman Stadium and in June 2002 at Shea Stadium.

Despite the fact os history the Sun’s official post-season prognosticator Ken Bracey, former scout puts his record on the line (he’s 1-1, picking the Jays in both series).

“The team with the best position players wise is K.C.,” said Bracey from Dunlap, Ill. “The team with the best pitching staff is the Mets.

“I pick the Royals because of their experience.”

Bracey cautions against wagering -- this isn’t Draft Kings or whatever -- adding “if those first three Mets starters pitch like they did against the Cubs, the Mets will have troubles.”

Bracey headed south in 1956 signing with the New York Yankees organization pitching nine seasons in the minors for the Yankees and San Francisco Giants. 

He read about the Royals having David Price’s breathing patterns in Sports Illustrated (a sigh meant he was not throwing anything hard).

“Yeah, for the 1984 World Series we had the fact that Willie Hernandez opened up only when he threw his screw ball,” said Bracey, who worked for the San Diego Padres at the time. “Don’t think we got a hit off him the whole time.

“The whole Toronto-K.C. series probably came down to that botched pop up in short right field.”

Last year was his 47th scouting. He scouted for the Giants (1968), Padres (1969-86, 1991-2009), Milwaukee Brewers (1987-90) and the Dodgers (2010-14). 

While the Series does not come down to which left fielder gets the most hits, a position-by-position breakdown is always one way of examining the two teams.

And now for our 26th annual post-season matchups complete with players’ stats, Bracey’s comments and his ratings out of 10: 


Catcher
Mets: Travis d’Arnaud (.268, 12, 41, .825) “This guy doesn’t look like a good hitter but he can hit a mistake and put a charge into it. He handles an excellent staff well, his staff is around the plate but they all throw hard and he handles them. He’s a heck of a lot larger than he looks.”

Royals: Salvador Perez (.260, 21, 70, .706) “He is in Yadier Molina’s class and a clutch hitter. He used the whole field. He’s hitting in a good spot in the lineup. He can’t carry a club but down there (hitting seventh) but he can so some damage.”

Rating: Perez 8, d’Arnaud 7.

First base
Mets: Lucas Duda (.244, 27, 73, .838). “If you watched the Mets against the Cubs, that’s the guy he is: a strong guy with good power, but he can be pitched to. On TV you hear guys say ‘oh ... he’s not hitting right now.’ That’s because they’re pitching guys well. The last game against the Cubs he got something to hit. He’s a solid first baseman.”

Royals: Eric Hosmer (.297, 18, 93, .822). “One of the better players in either league. He’s good against right-handed pitching. You have to made good pitches when it’s left on left. He’s a solid defensive player. Long as he doesn’t get hurt, he’s going to be a great player for a long, long time. 

Rating: Hosmer 8, Duda 6

Second base
Mets: Daniel Murphy ((.281, 14, 73, .770) “He’s like Babe Ruth now, but I might be light. He always looked like he could hit, not with this power. He’s never had a position, left field one day, third base the next. He’s not a great second baseman, but they finally found a position for him. He has a big chest and is not far from first. I imagine he’ll hit home runs, he might hit two or three more.”

Royals: Ben Zobrist (.276, 13, 5, 6, .809). “He’s going to get a ton of money (as a free agent). There’s no reason if you want a position player why you wouldn’t make him an offer. Great family, great make up. He’s a perfect fit in K.C. as a No. 2 hitter -- not fourth as he was with Tampa Bay.”

Rating: Murphy 8, Zobrist 8.

Third base
Mets: David Wright (.289, five, 17, .814) “If Wright gets on between those two left-handed hitters (Curtis Granderson and Murphy) the Mets have a great chance. Granderson and Murphy get on a lot. Wright is not a good hitter any more. Sometimes he has a good idea of the zone, sometimes he does not. The key guy for K.C. Average with the bat. Good defensively.”

Royals: Mike Moustakas (.284, 22, 82, .817) “Much more dangerous that Wright and just as good at third. He might not have Wright’s leadership. Moustakas used to want to pull everything. He’s figured it out. Now, he’s a good all-around player.”

Rating: Wright 6, Moustakas 6.

Shortstop
Mets: Wilmer Flores (.263, 16, 59, .703): “Not near the player (Alcides) Escobar is. He gets more hits than I think he’s going to when I see him coming to the plate. He doesn’t look like a hitter. He doesn’t scare me. Not a bad shortstop.”

Royals: Alcides Escobar (.257, 26, 75, .614): “Getting better all the time. He killed Toronto. He won’t hit like that against the Mets. He’s going to have a great career if he stays healthy. ”

Rating: Escobar 7, Flores 5.

Left field
Mets: Michael Conforto (.270, nine, 26, .841) “Everyone says he’s the left fielder of the future. Sometimes he looks overmatched. He’s just a kid. The Cubs didn’t throw him any strikes a couple of games I saw. He’s young to have that much pressure on him. He hasn’t stepped up.”

Royals: Alex Gordon (.271, 13, 48, .809) “I’m not sure he’s completely healthy. He’s better off than Troy Tulowitzki, that was a shame he was injured. Gordon is a very good outfielder. He bares watching. As good a left fielder as I’ve ever seen -- when healthy.”

Rating: Gordon 6, Conforto 5. 

Centre field
Mets: Yoenis Cespedes (.291, 35, 105, .870) “He’s a mistake hitter with big time power. If you can pitch to him and stay ahead ... no problem. If you are going to throw him meatball fastball you are going to lose. He hits the ball as hard or harder than anyone. He likes the ball middle in, He’ll chase up, he’ll chase down. If you throw it where he can reach? Extra bases. The reason the Mets are here.”

Royals: Lorenzo Cain (.307, 16, 72, .838, 28 steals) “He played against Toronto like he played against everyone else. He hustles and improves. He has improved so much the past two years. He went from every day guy to star. He scored twice on singles from first base -- no one does tt. One of the better players in either league.”
Rating: Cain 8, Cespedes 7, 

Right field
Mets: Curtis Granderson (.259, 26, 70, .821) “Every at-bat he gives you is his best. Him and Cain have similar attitudes. He’ll strike out but he’s an aggressive lead-off hitter. He had to get on for the Mets to win. He has a chance. Will steal a base.”

Royals: Alex Rios (.255, 15, 67, .640) “Like the last game against Toronto if you can’t get him out you are going to lose. Toronto didn’t get him out. Toronto lost. He’s a good average player nowadays. They talk about how fast he runs -- he doesn’t run that fast when I am in the park.”

Rating: Granderson 7, Rios 6 

DH
Mets: Kelly Johnson (.265, 14, 47, .750) or Michael Cuddyer (.259, 10, 41, .699): “This isn’t going to be to the Mets advantage. They got a lot out of Johnson than a lot of people expected. I know Cuddyer has been hurt, but he’s a veteran guy, he could muscle up.”

Royals: Kendrys Morales (.290, 22, 106, .847) “Dead mistake hitter - they aren’t coming back. He’s like Kyle Schwarber of the Cubs. Problem is Schwarber was drafted by an NL team. Morales is the right fit here. Above average DH because of the power he displays from both sides.”

Rating: Morales 7, Cuddyer 4, Johnson 4.

Starters
Mets: Matt Harvey (13-8, 2.71), Jacob deGrom (14-8, 2.54), Noah Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24) and Steven Matz (4-0, 2.27) “Not bad this year. Not bad next year. And not bad for a few years and they are missing Zack Wheeler who is injured. The first three if they are on ... well not even K.C. is going to score many runs. When you throw 97-98 mph and stay down in the zone, not many guys get hits down there.”

Royals: Edison Volquez (13-9, 3.55), Yordano Ventura (13-8, 4.08), Johnny Cueto (11-13, 3.44) and Chris Young (11-6, 3.06) “Volquez gets his breaking ball over better than he did a year or so ago. Ventura is still a thrower. Am not sure which Cueto will show. Neither are the Royals. Young competes like heck. The first three starters will keep you in the game. It’s a good rotation, not great.”

Rating: Mets 8, Royals 7.

Closer
Mets: Jeurys Familia (2-2, 1.85, 43 saves) “This guy has been very impressive. He goes out and throws pitches sometimes that he doesn’t need to throw. Why throw your secondary stuff when you can over power hitters? I like him a lot. He down, always down in the zone.”

Royals Wade Davis (8-1, 0.94, 17 saves) “He did OK pitching out of the first and third, none out jam in the ninth? Like I said before the ALCS there is no chance of back-to-back hits off him. Maybe one, but not back-to-back.”

Rating: Davis 9, Familia 8.

Bullpen
Mets: Tyler Clippard (5-4, 2.92, 19 saves), Addison Reed (3-3, 3.38), Bartolo Colon (14-13, 4.16), Jon Niese (9-10, 4.13), Hansel Robles (4-3, 3.67): “They added some guys at the deadline and moved Colon from the rotation to the bullpen.”

Royals: Kelvin Herrera (4-3, 2.71), Ryan Madson (1-2, 2.13), Luke Hochevar (1-1, 3.73), Franklin Morales (4-2, 3.18), Kris Medlin (6-2, 4.01), Danny Duffy (7-8, 4.08) “I don’t know if the bullpen is any less deep than a year agao. I like K.C.’s depth in the middle, they have the better arms.”

Rating: Royals 8, Mets 7.

Bench
Mets: Juan Lagares (.259, six, 41, .647), Kirk Nieuwenhuis (.208, four, 13, .688), Kevin Plawecki (.219, three, 21, .576) Cuddyer or Johnson: “They’re going to be hurt with four game in the AL park without a legit DH.”

Royals: Paulo Orlando (.249, 7, 27, .713), Jarrod Dyson (.250, 2, 18, .691, 26 steals), Drew Butera (.198, one, five, .533), Terrance Gore (.000, 0, 0, .250) “KC has some speed in Dyson and Gore? Can the Mets slow that down.”

Rating: Royals 6, Mets 6.