I didn't watch the Wild Card round because I am protesting fun. Who are these teams?
The Royals: Fresh off their thrilling victory that you didn't watch because you won't admit that all playoff rounds (and sports in general) are manufactured drama and not just the Wild Card you're adamantly opposed to, the Royals still cannot hit, but they can pitch.
The Angels: The Angels cannot pitch, but they can hit. Oh man, can they hit. They hit their way to the best record in baseball.
Why should I watch this ALDS?
Q: "Gilmore Girls" is now on Netflix, so why should I watch the best team in baseball torch the lowly wild card winner instead?
A: The Angels have the best record, but they aren't necessarily the best team. You see, over the course of the long season, Los Angeles of Anaheim lost rotation members Tyler Skaggs to Tommy John surgery and breakout pitcher/rotation leader Garrett Richards to a torn patellar tendon that resulted in a season-ending procedure. They still have Jered Weaver, but he's just pretty good these days instead of outstanding, and C.J. Wilson just finished his worst season as a starting pitcher in the majors. Hector Santiago is good enough, but only in five-inning bursts, and while Matt Shoemaker was a great and welcome surprise with his own breakout campaign, he missed some time at the end of the season with a rib cage strain. He's slated to pitch in the ALDS, but if he's not entirely himself, it could end up costing the Angels.
The Angels are considering a three-man rotation but might only have two good pitchers, less than that if Shoemaker shows up rusty or off. This doesn't doom them since they also possess the best offense in the AL, but it does give the pitching-rich, offense-light Royals an in you might not expect them to have given these teams' respective records.
Alexis Bledel and Lauren Graham in "The Gilmore Girls." They say the dialogue was pretty good before the creator left. (Getty Images).
Q: You lost me when you were naming people besides Jered Weaver.
A: I know, I'm sorry, the Angels were bad for a while and introduced a lot of new, random people. We all had to catch up.
Q: You're just going to have to get me up to speed in the next 125 words or so. Start with the offenses.
A: The Angels offense features a former megastar settling into the role of High-Quality Veteran in Albert Pujols, and while Josh Hamilton is overpaid, at least he looks like he remembers what he's supposed to do with his bat. C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun sound like create-a-players from MLB The Show, but they posted 110 and 122 OPS+, respectively. Howie Kendrick continues to be an underrated piece of homegrown Angels baseball at the keystone, and David Freese didn't have Mark Trumbo's power, but luckily he also did not have his on-base percentage. Mike Trout is also on the Angels, in case you hadn't heard, so the best player on the planet is in this series. If you're into that.
The Royals have Alex Gordon.
Q: Calhoun spells his first name with a "K"? Can you just spoonerize his name from here on out?
A: It will move this article up on the list of accidental Google searches for "cole kalhoun", so why not?
Q: So you mentioned the Royals could pitch.
A: They can! That, in conjunction with the Angels' potential inability to do the same, is why the Royals have a chance in this series. James Shields won't get a start right away, since he pitched in the Wild Card round, but Yordano Ventura, Danny Duffy, and Jason Vargas are a formidable trio. Vargas tends to need a pitcher-friendly park to thrive, but between Angels Stadium and Kauffman, he's covered regardless of venue in this series. He also fell off hard at the end of the season, with 18 earned runs allowed in his final 18 innings. Ventura gave up a three-run bomb in relief against the A's, but that was in a spot he's not used to pitching in on his throw day: as a starter, he's a primary reason the Royals are even here. Duffy might be the best of the entire bunch, if not now, then soon. Depending on who Weaver is up against, the Royals might have the pitching advantage in every single start, and that's without getting into their absurd bullpen.
Q: Of course, Ned Yost has to properly utilize his bullpen in order to realize the benefits of this advantage over the Angels.
A: And you said you didn't watch the Wild Card game.
Q: I would like one key stat for each team, and I would like them now.
A: The Angels are a fantastic team against lefties, with a 116 OPS+ against southpaws on the year thanks to lefty batter who can hit lefty pitchers, but Danny Duffy is not your run-of-the-mill lefty. They're good against righties, with a 105 OPS+, but just good against this Royals' rotation might not be enough to guarantee victory.
The Royals do need to score runs to make the work of their pitchers count, however, and that's not necessarily an easy task for the worst lineup in the American League, even if they're facing what at this point is the worst rotation in the playoffs. At some point, the Royals only hitting 95 homers in this entire season is going to come back to haunt them when they can't manufacture a run with speed and incessant bunting alone.
Q: There were more than two numbers there, so now you owe me explanations without stats in them.
A: The sixth inning is going to be crucial for both of these clubs: Ned Yost can't seem to figure out how to bridge between his starters and his dedicated 7-8-9 innings bullpen setup, and on Tuesday it almost cost him the game and the season. The Angels don't have the greatest bullpen out there, though, in-season trades helped make it far more formidable: if their starters can't go deep often enough against a weak Royals' lineup, they might end up exposing either the starters the third and fourth times through the lineup, or the bullpen they're supposed to help protect.
Q: So both of these teams are good, but for completely different reasons, and one of them is managed by a dude that infallible legend Pedro Martinez gave the business to. Who has the advantage?
A: The questions about the Angels rotation make it difficult to pick them to win in a short series. The Royals pull it out in five because the lack of a real playoff rotation costs the Angels one too many games, and Kansas City takes advantage.
In spite of all the bunting, even.