Statcast of characters: World Series players to watch
By Paul Casella
The Royals and Mets have emerged as the class of their respective leagues, and the two clubs are preparing to square off in Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday night (7:30 ET airtime on FOX, with game time slated for 8).
Though they certainly took different paths to get here, it should come as no surprise that both clubs relied on a balanced attack of offense, defense and pitching. Both teams boast threats at the plate, on the basepaths and on the mound, but Statcast™ provides an in-depth look at some of the key battles in each of those areas.
The Series will obviously be decided on the field -- and any player on either roster could ultimately emerge as the hero -- but here's a closer look at some of the key players and metrics to keep an eye on in this year's Fall Classic, courtesy of Statcast™.
Kendrys Morales: Power
Morales placed himself in the American League Comeback Player of the Year Award discussion with his 22-homer, 106-RBI season -- and he's kept it going right into the postseason. He's added four homers through Kansas City's first 11 games this postseason, while showcasing his power with a couple of moon shots. Morales is responsible for the sixth-longest home run this postseason -- a projected 442-foot shot to all but clinch the Royals' Game 5 victory against the Astros in the AL Division Series -- and two of the 10 longest overall. He also had the Royals' longest home run during the regular season, a 469-foot blast against the Orioles on Aug. 25.
It's not just distance, either, as Morales has recorded two of the six hardest-hit homers across the Majors this postseason. That's nothing new for a guy who finished the regular season with the third-highest average generated velocity, which subtracts the speed of the pitch from the exit velocity.
Lorenzo Cain: Speed
Though Cain is an all-around talent who could have any number of attributes highlighted in this piece, it seems fitting to focus on his speed. After all, it's Cain's wheels that helped lift the Royals to an AL Championship Series-clinching victory over the Blue Jays when he raced all the way home from first base on a long single to the right-field corner to score what proved to be the game-winning run. On that series-deciding play, Cain reached a max speed of 20.7 mph during a 10.5-second dash from first to home.
Even more impressive is the fact that Cain had already accomplished that rare feat earlier in this same postseason. The speedy outfielder also scored from first on a single in Game 5 of the AL Division Series when he reached a max speed of 20.8 mph as he raced from first to home in just 9.25 seconds, though he benefited from running on the pitch in that instance.
Kelvin Herrera: Velocity
Despite pitching limited innings as a reliever, Herrera is still responsible for 24 of the 100 fastest pitches thrown across the Majors this postseason. He's topped 100 mph four times in the postseason, including three times in the club's ALCS victory over the Blue Jays. Though some players have ramped it up a notch for the postseason, this is nothing new for Herrera, whose pitches averaged 98.39 mph during the regular season. Among pitchers to throw at least 200 pitches, only Aroldis Chapman (99.98 mph) logged a higher average velocity.
Daniel Murphy: Power
That's right, Murphy has worked his way into the power category heading into the World Series. Despite hitting just 23 homers over the past two regular seasons, Murphy earned his new label by entering the Series as the only player in history to homer in six consecutive postseason games. Taking a closer look at Murphy's seven overall homers, however, reveals that none of those home runs crack the top 20 farthest- or hardest-hit homers this postseason. That said, on an individual level, three of Murphy's four hardest-hit home runs this year have come during the postseason, as well as three of his six longest.
Murphy's longest home run during his record-setting stretch was a projected 421-foot blast in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series against the Cubs. That distance is good for his third-longest homer overall in 2015.
Yoenis Cespedes: Speed
As with Cain, it wouldn't be difficult to highlight Cespedes' contributions with his bat instead of his feet. Though it's no secret that Cespedes has hit his share of majestic home runs this season, especially since joining the Mets, his biggest impact in the NLCS arguably was made with his speed. That was never more obvious than in Game 3 when Cespedes stole third base with absolute ease, thanks to reaching a blazing max speed of 23.6 mph. That was not only his fastest tracked time on the basepaths this season, but the 2.9 seconds it took for him to swipe the bag was the fastest steal of third by any player this year.
Noah Syndergaard: Velocity
Not to be outdone by Herrera, Mets starter Syndergaard has been firing off plenty of heat of his own this postseason. Among starting pitchers, the 23-year-old has accounted for the 29 fastest pitches thrown so far this postseason, 14 of which topped 100 mph. Even when including relievers, Syndergaard is responsible for 22 of the top 50 fastest-thrown pitches this postseason. His fastest pitch -- and the fastest pitch recorded by anyone this postseason -- came in Game 2 of the Division Series when he rifled a 101.4-mph heater to Adrian Gonzalez.
Paul Casella is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.