A capsule preview of the lineups for the Kansas City Royals and San Francisco Giants.
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The Royals winning formula? Get six (or even just five) innings out of the rotation, scratch out a couple of runs and turn it over to one of the best bullpens in the history of baseball.
Travis Ishikawa, SF, .252 avg., 3 HRs, 18 RBIs: At midseason, Ishikawa considered retiring after being cut by the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the postseason, he’s become baseball’s latest unlikely star.
Alex Gordon, KC, .266 avg., 19 HRs, 74 RBIs: The former Nebraska star is the perfect face for this gritty team. Over the past four years, his WAR (wins above replacement) is seventh best in MLB.
Gregor Blanco, SF, .260 avg., 5 HRs, 38 RBIs: The outfielder has filled in admirably after regular center fielder Angel Pagan was lost for the season with a back injury. He is a former Royals farmhand.
Lorenzo Cain, KC .301 avg., 5 HRs, 53 RBIs: The ALCS MVP is a top defender who leads Royals regulars in batting average. He started playing baseball during his sophomore year of high school.
Hunter Pence, SF, .277 avg., 20 HRs, 74 RBIs: You know you’re big time when you have your own Twitter hashtag. Check out #HunterPenceSigns for a good chuckle. Foes don’t laugh at his game, though.
Norichika Aoki, KC, .285 avg., 1 HR, 43 RBIs: Aoki is one of three ex-Brewers in the starting lineup, Lorenzo Cain and Alcides Escobar being the others. He is sometimes replaced by Jarrod Dyson late.
Brandon Crawford, SF, .246 avg., 10 HRs, 69 RBIs: A solid defender, his grand slam in the wild-card game lifted the Giants. It was typical Crawford. His 69 RBIs despite a .246 average means he’s pretty clutch.
Alcides Escobar, KC, .285 avg., 3 HRs, 50 RBIs: The slick-fielding shortstop has hit .340 with a .370 on-base percentage since being moved into the leadoff spot on Sept. 13 and K.C. has gone 17-7 in that span.
Joe Panik, SF, .305 avg., 1 HR, 18 RBIs: Panik ended the Giants’ panic (sorry) at second base after Marco Scutaro was injured. He hit .305 in the regular season after being called up in June.
Omar Infante, KC, .252 avg., 6 HRs, 66 RBIs: His offseason signing finally solidified second base for K.C. and gave it a veteran with World Series experience. He has been battling shoulder pain recently.
Pablo Sandoval, SF, .279 avg., 16 HRs, 73 RBIs: Since 2010, the Kung Fu Panda has reached base safely in the postseason in a team-record 23 straight games. He was the 2012 World Series MVP.
Mike Moustakas, KC, .212 avg., 15 HRs, 54 RBIs: The Moose has been on fire this postseason, hitting four HRs and making a highlight grab in the ALCS. This after being demoted to Omaha for a bit in mid-May.
Brandon Belt, SF, .243 avg., 12 HRs, 27 RBIs: The left-handed slugger’s homer in the 18th inning of Game 2 of the NLDS lifted the Giants. He played in the CWS in 2009 with Texas.
Eric Hosmer, KC, .270 avg., 9 HRs, 58 RBIs: Hosmer has hit .448 in the postseason with eight RBIs. His ninth-inning triple in the wild-card game helped keep the Royals alive.
Michael Morse, SF, .279 avg., 16 HRs, 61 RBIs: Morse has just six at-bats since Aug. 31 because of a strained oblique, but he hit a game-tying, pinch-hit HR in the eighth inning of the NLCS clincher.
Billy Butler, KC, .271 avg., 9 HRs, 66 RBIs: K.C. will take a hit when his bat will be out of the lineup when the series moves to San Francisco. He also has an awesome nickname: Country Breakfast.
Buster Posey, SF, .311 avg., 22 HRs, 89 RBIs: Posey will be tested by a team that had an MLB-best 153 steals. He threw out 17 of 76 potential base stealers. He played in the CWS in 2008 with Florida State.
Salvador Perez, KC, .260 avg., 19 HRs, 70 RBIs: The owner of a big arm and a big bat, you have the feeling he’ll never have to buy a drink in K.C. again after his game-winning hit in the wild-card game.
LH Madison Bumgarner, SF, 18-10, 2.98 ERA: The strong left-hander and NLCS MVP was part of a 2007 North Carolina recruiting class that included current MLB pitchers Matt Harvey and Rick Porcello.
RH James Shields, KC, 14-8, 3.21 ERA: Shields won a World Series game for Tampa in 2008. He is 1-0 with a 5.63 ERA in three playoff starts this month and is 3-4 with a 5.19 ERA in nine career playoff outings.
San Francisco's other projected starters
RH Jake Peavy (7-13, 3.73 with Boston and San Francisco)
RH Tim Hudson (9-13, 3.57)
RH Ryan Vogelsong (8-13, 4.00)
San Francisco's bullpen
RH Santiago Casilla 3-3, 1.70, 19/23 saves
RH Sergio Romo 6-4, 3.72, 23/28 saves
LH Jeremy Affeldt 4-2, 2.28
LH Javier Lopez 1-1, 3.11
RH Jean Machi 7-1, 2.58, 2 saves
RH Hunter Strickland 1-0, 0.00 in 9 games
RH Yusmeiro Petit 5-5, 3.69 in 39 games, 12 starts
RH Tim Lincecum 12-9, 4.74, 1 save in 33 games, 26 starts
Kansas City's other projected starters
RH Yordano Ventura 14-10, 3.20, 159 Ks
RH Jeremy Guthrie 13-11, 4.13, 202 2/3 IP, 124 Ks
LH Jason Vargas 11-10, 3.71, 128 Ks
Kansas City's bullpen
RH Greg Holland 1-3, 1.44, 46/48 saves
RH Wade Davis 9-2, 1.00
RH Kelvin Herrera 4-3, 1.41
LH Brandon Finnegan 0-1, 1.29 in 7 games
RH Jason Frasor 3-0, 1.53
LH Danny Duffy 9-12, 2.53 ERA, 113 Ks in 31 games, 25 starts
LH Tim Collins 0-3, 3.86 in 22 games