2014 American League Championship Series Preview and Prediction From WhatIfSports.com image

2014 MLB Playoffs: ALCS Prediction

We simulate the Orioles vs. Royals to predict the ALCS winner

WhatIfSports.com
October 8, 2014

Using our MLB simulation engine, we "played" the Orioles vs. Royals 2014 best-of-seven American League Championship Series 101 times.

In the predictions below, you will find each team's chances of advancing to the World Series and how often they win in 4, 5, 6 or 7 games.

American League Championship Series Prediction: Orioles vs. Royals

During any sporting postseason, you will hear, without fail, an announcer or commentator remark a certain team has "overcome the odds" to reach this championship interval. Usually this infers rising above a host of injuries, or topping a historical suppressor or rival. While this is figuratively applicable to the Royals - who unburdened themselves from a 29-year-old playoff drought - and the Orioles - a quick glance at their DL/restricted list will testify to such obstacles - this sentiment also resonates in a literal sense. According to Las Vegas bookmakers, the Fall Classic aspirations of Baltimore and Kansas City were farfetched, with both clubs holding 33/1 World Series odds in March.

Yet as we enter the second week of October, it's the unlikely Royals and O's as the Junior Circuit's last men standing. Unfortunately, only one of these magical Cinderella stories can continue. Using the WhatIfSports.com baseball simulation engine, let's find out which hardball carriage is about to turn into a pumpkin...

"Magical" seems like an apropos description of the Royals' postseason run. Making their first playoff appearance since "Back to the Future" was in theaters, Kansas City has made up for lost time. After emerging victorious from an instant classic against the A's in the Wild Card, the Boys in Blue made quick work of the Angels.

Simulation ERAs
Team ERA
Orioles Rotation 4.74
Orioles Bullpen 2.87
Royals Rotation 4.61
Royals Bullpen 2.70

On the backs of sound pitching and unparalleled defensive prowess (read: Cain, Lorenzo), the Royals seem like the team to beat in the American League Championship Series. However, for Kansas City to advance, the bats will need to awaken from their slumber. The club ranked ninth in the AL in runs scored, logging a league-low 95 home runs on the summer. Aside from Eric Hosmer (7-for-14, five ribbies) this drought has continued into fall, as the Royals are hitting just .240 in the postseason.

Against the Orioles, this is easier said than done. Since the All-Star Break, Baltimore's arms have been lights-out, evidenced in a league-best 2.88 ERA in that span. The charge is led by Chris Tillman, who after a slow start out of the gate, finished 2014 with a 2.38 ERA and held opponents to a .271 OBP in his last 21 starts. Also providing firepower from the mound is Miguel Gonzalez (2.19 ERA, 1.10 WHIP in second half) and Wei-Yin Chen (2.76 ERA, 1.13 in last 13 outings). Coupled with the Zach Britton's stellar display from the bullpen, the O's seemingly have a formula conducive for playoff success.

Alas, Baltimore does have a weakness, one that's actually perceived as its strength. Spurred by the revival of Nelson Cruz, the Orioles flexed their muscles at the plate to the tune of 211 home runs, by far the most in the majors this year. But living on the long ball can be a dangerous matter. Subtract the homers and Baltimore's run production is non-existent. This is a club that can't run the base paths and abhors small ball. If the big bats aren't out, the O's could be in a world of trouble.

So which club will punch their ticket to the World Series? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com baseball simulation engine, the Royals win 53.5 percent of the time, with a six-game series the most likely outcome.

Of course, don't write off the O's just yet. After all, this is a team that's overcome the odds before.

Orioles vs. Royals: 101 Simulations of Best-of-7 Series
MatchupWin %4-Games %5-Games %6-Games %7-Games %
Orioles46.59.95.916.813.9
Royals53.56.915.817.812.9
Simulate Baltimore Orioles vs. Kansas City Royals
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Joel Beall is the Assistant Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jbeall@whatifsports.com.

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