The World Series always has the spotlight shined on the big name guys. This year that is someone like Madison Bumgarner, James Shields, Pablo Sandoval and Alex Gordon just to name a few. But, there is always those one or two guys that step up to really elevate their team from the opponent. For example, in last years’ World Series Xander Bogaerts was a great example of someone who filled a bigger role than they were supposed to.
This year because the Royals are in the playoffs for the first time since 1985 (haven’t heard this one have ya!), most of their guys are players that don’t make the headlines everyday. Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas definitely weren’t household names last year or even just a few months ago.
The Giants however have been here before. They feature a plethora of players that were on the team back in 2012 and even 2010 when they won the Series. People recognize players like Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, and Madison Bumgarner. There are, however, some players on both sides to keep an eye on in this years’ World Series.
This rookie second baseman has been exactly what the Giants needed this Postseason. He has been that young spark who the Giants have needed to step up in his role and he definitely has coming up clutch in many situations. He features a better than average glove in the field and at the plate he’s been more than just an average rookie. He reminds me of the aforementioned Xander Bogaerts of last years’ Boston Red Sox championship team. He’s a young guy who no one really expected to being playing as well as he has. Look for Panik to play a big factor in the Series this year.
While having been in the playoffs before in 2012, Belt has really elevated his play in this years’ Postseason. He has been hitting .286 in the Postseason this year and is playing a great first base. The most notable thing he has done this Postseason was his lone home run in the 18th inning in Washington in the NLDS. That was a turning point in that series and if the Giants was to have the same success again, Belt is going to need to step up. We all know Sandoval, Posey and Pence can get it done, but if the Giants want to get those guys good pitches to hit, Belt has to stay hot at the plate. If Belt keeps doing what he is doing, the Giants will have a great shot at getting another trophy in San Francisco.
Omar Infante is an interesting player. He hasn’t done all that much in the Postseason and seems like he’s been kind of forgotten for the Royals in the playoffs. He has played great on defense, but at the plate he’s hitting a measly .207. Infante is a player with plenty of experience in the Postseason and it surprises me that he isn’t playing like he did in 2012 when he was part of the AL Champion Tigers team that ultimately lost to the Giants. The Royals have gotten it done so far with not much from Infante, but if he can get his bat going and lay down some bunts, he has the ability to key a Royals World Series win if he can contribute more than he has. Look for Infante to break out a bit and give the Royals a boost.
The slap hitting right fielder just keeps getting it done for this Royals ball club. Aoki has given his club a huge boost from that number two hole by laying down bunts and hitting a respectable .259 this Postseason. If Alcides Escobar can get on base, the threat of a bunt is immediately on which forces the third baseman to play in. What is great about Aoki is that he can either lay down a bunt and potentially beat it out, or pull and Ichiro move and slap a ball the other way which brings such a different dimension to this offense. This could be a big factor in this series especially with a runner on second and a possibility to steal 3rd. Those scenarios can all be created when Aoki is at the plate because he is capable of doing just that. This could cause some trouble for the Giants and it will be interesting how Nori Aoki will be able to affect this series because it could be a major factor.
These are just a few players from each team that I think have the potential to break out or key their team to victory. This should be a fun World Series to watch because of the dimension both teams bring to the field.
Happy World Series everyone!
Seattle sports fan and MLB writer for International Sports Hub