SI cover: The small ball World Series, Royals vs. Giants
The 2014 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals will feature lots of defense, steals, and stellar pitching, and quite possibly could be played without an abundance of baseballs leaving the ballparks.
That's fine with both teams because that's how they reached the postseason in the first place. Neither team won its division and neither won 90 games, but both showed resolve and the ability to come back from any deficit.
Kansas City hit 95 home runs in the regular season, fewest in the majors, and also had the lowest strikeout rate of any other team. This postseason the Royals have scored more runs than any other team, and have stolen 10 more bases than San Francisco.
"We put the ball in play," Royals hitting coach Dale Sveum said. "It's a point of emphasis, especially in situation hitting. There is no run that can score and no runners who can move up a base without contact. One thing that's been lost in the game is how hitters and teams are satisfied with strikeouts and not understanding that you get 27 outs and if you put 27 balls in play, you have a better chance of driving in runs."
The Giants rarely left the yard, either, hitting 132 round-trippers. But in the playoffs, San Francisco has shown an aggressive style at the plate and has come through with timely hits. In the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Giants faced 200 two-strike pitches, which only led to 27 strikeouts.
For more on the World Series and Tom Verducci's analysis, check out this week's Sports Illustrated (subscribe here).
Also in this issue, profiles on the art of punting in the NFL, former international basketball stars Arvydas and Domas Sabonis, and a preview of the upcoming NBA season.