The Royals don't just run. They run with a purpose.
Not only did they lead the Major Leagues with 153 stolen bases during the regular season, they were successful on 80.9 percent of their attempts, the third-best success rate in the Majors behind the Nationals (81.5) and Yankees (81.2).
The Royals will be a challenge for the Giants, who got a firsthand look at their running ability on Aug. 10, when they stole seven bases in a 7-4 victory against San Francisco in Kansas City. Rookie Andrew Susac was behind the plate for the Giants that day, but it will be Buster Posey in Game 1 of the World Series today (7:30 p.m. ET airtime on FOX, 8:07 ET first pitch).
Will that make a difference? Runners were successful on 70.2 percent of their stolen-base attempts with Posey behind the plate during the regular season. Susac threw out six of 16 runners in games other than the one against the Royals.
More likely to be a difference is that Madison Bumgarner will be on the mound. Only 17 runners attempted to steal against the left-hander during the season, and 10 of them were caught. In that game in which the Royals ran at will, Tim Lincecum, who saw 22 of 28 runners succeed on stolen bases, started.
The Royals will be more likely to test the three starters who will come after Bumgarner: Tim Hudson (15 of 18 successful on stolen-base attempts during the regular season), Jake Peavy (eight of 14) and Ryan Vogelsong (12 of 18).
The Royals have 13 stolen bases so far this postseason, tied for 21st all-time, five shy of moving into the top five. The Rays set a record with 24 stolen bases in 2008. The 1992 Braves and '75 Reds each stole 20 bases. The Braves had 19 in 1999, and the '95 Indians and '09 Pirates each had 18.
The nine other postseason teams this year have combined for only 15 stolen bases, led by the Orioles with four.
The Royals tied a postseason single-game record with seven stolen bases in their American League Wild Card Game win against the A's. The Cubs set the record with seven against the Tigers in Game 1 of the 1907 World Series, and the Reds had seven in Game 2 of the 1975 National League Championship Series against the Pirates.
The Giants have three stolen bases this postseason, and they ranked 29th in baseball with 56 stolen bases during the regular season, 12 ahead of the Orioles. They were 26th in stolen-base success rate at 67.5 percent.
Bumgarner has to welcome the chance to start Game 1 of the World Series, not only because of the honor of drawing the assignment, but also because it is on the road.
Bumgarner is 4-0 in four career starts on the road in the postseason during his career, and he has allowed two earned runs in 32 2/3 postseason innings away from home, including two innings in a relief appearance.
But it is not merely a postseason thing with Bumgarner. During the 2014 season he was 7-6 with a 4.03 ERA in 15 starts at AT&T Park, and 11-4 with a 2.22 ERA in 18 starts on the road. One of the road losses was a 4-2 defeat at Kansas City on Aug. 8, when Bumgarner allowed four runs, three earned, in an eight-inning complete game. It is his only career appearance against the Royals.
Royals Game 1 starter James Shields is 3-4 with a 5.19 ERA in nine career postseason starts, and he is 1-0 in three starts this postseason despite a 5.63 ERA. He did win his only World Series start, working 5 2/3 shutout innings for the Rays in a 4-2 Game 2 victory against the Phillies in 2008.
Shields made his only career appearance against the Giants on Aug. 9 this season, pitching a four-hit shutout in a 5-0 victory.
The Royals have dominated their brief all-time series against the Giants, winning 9 of 12 games. They are 7-2 at Kauffman Stadium, sweeping a three-game series in August this year, and taking two of three from the Giants in 2003 and '08. Kansas City won two of three in a visit to AT&T Park in 2005.
The Royals' .750 winning percentage is the highest of any opponent against the Giants. AL teams have the seven best winning percentages against San Francisco. The Dodgers have the best record of any NL team against the Giants, .516 (1,012-950).
AL teams have a combined .503 winning percentage (148-146) against the Giants, compared to .470 (7,276-8,202) for NL teams.
The team that has won Game 1 has went on to win 15 of the last 17 World Series titles.
The only teams to win Game 1 and lose in the last 17 World Series were the Phillies against the Yankees in 2009, and the Giants against the Angels in '02.
The Phils beat the Yanks, 6-1, in Game 1 behind the six-hit effort of Cliff Lee, but New York went on to win the World Series in six games.
In 2002, the Giants beat the Angels, 4-3, in Game 1, but the Halos bounced back to claim the battle of Wild Card teams in seven games.
Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.