Keep the line moving. That's Dale Sveum's rallying cry to inspire the Royals to do their thing, which is to string a bunch of hits together at the same time. Notice that Sveum's cry does not include "End the line", as in hitting dingers. Dingers are more representative of individual performance; there is some isolation of responsibility between the pitcher and the hitter. Keeping the line moving involves a bunch of people.
Having said that, I'm going to talk about an individual award: the World Series MVP. Salvador Perez won the thing, but the prevailing narrative in KC is that a whole bunch of players could have won it. Someone even tried to make the case for Eric Hosmer, who hit .190/.240/.238 during the five games of the World Series and made multiple defensive miscues but showed up in key situations. Let's examine Perez's case.
The iron man catcher, who took a fair amount of punishment in the form of foul balls and errant backswing bats during the entire postseason, managed a .364/.391/.455 line against the Mets. This was indeed the best triple slash line of any Royals player during the series, narrowly beating (by OPS) Alex Gordon's .222/.391/.444 line.
In aggregate, Perez was the best offensive performer for the Royals. However, in the small sample size of the World Series, sometimes we want "moments" instead of aggregate performance when evaluating for these individual awards. How about Game 1, top of the ninth?
David Wright had just singled with one out against Luke Hochevar, and he took off for second on the first pitch of the next at-bat. It was a bit of a pitchout...maybe by accident. Perez set the target a bit more inside and even shifted more inside before the pitch, but the pitch ended up outside. When he caught the ball, he was already standing. His momentum taking him away from second base, Perez unleashed a high throw that Alcides Escobar lazily caught. Escobar then calmly put a tag on Wright, who was called out after a review. This prevented a man from being in scoring position with only one out and Daniel Murphy, still fresh off his ridiculous homer streak, at the plate.
Was this a "moment", though? Hochevar pitched very well in the World Series, and there was one out already. It didn't "feel" like a moment. After all that, Perez was not the hero anyway. Alex Gordon hit the home run to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, and Perez was not involved in the 14th inning rally that won the Royals Game 1. It was Eric Hosmer's sacrifice fly that ended up scoring the winning run.
In Game 2, Perez was part of the eighth-inning rally in which the Royals scored three runs, but the Royals had a 4-1 lead before that inning. The stand-out performance of Game 2 was from Johnny Cueto, who threw a complete game with only one run allowed.
In Game 3, Perez was a part of the Royals' scoring opportunities. He led off the top of the second inning with a single and eventually scored. He also walked in the sixth inning, during which the Royals, down by only two runs still, loaded the bases with two outs but came up empty. This game was dominated by the Mets.
In Game 4, Perez was again part of the eighth-inning rally that saw one of the infamous Daniel Murphy defensive miscues. Perez hit an opposite-field single to score the fifth run. He also scored the first Royals run of the game, but that was due almost as much to another defensive miscue by Yoenis Cespedes, who booted the ball, than to Perez. Perez's performance does not stand out amid the lack of defensive prowess from the Mets.
Perez also threw out another would-be basestealer in Game 4. At this time, the Royals were down 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth. With Curtis Granderson on first, David Wright at the plate, and Chris Young having been removed for Danny Duffy, the Mets had a chance to add to their lead. Granderson took off on a 1-2 slide-stepped changeup, and Perez nabbed him easily with a great throw. There were already two outs, though; the Mets were unlikely to score.
In Game 5, Perez was part of the moment. Or one of the moments. In the top of the ninth, with Eric Hosmer at third base, Perez hit a funky, weak line drive/grounder thing between third base and second base. Wright fielded, looked Hosmer back, and threw to first, after which Hosmer took off for home. This play has been well-discussed but is not one of the "hero" moments one might desire in an MVP. This play was a constellation of things, the least of which was Perez's performance. A better play from Lucas Duda and this series might still be going on — who knows.
Then, in inning number 12, Perez had another moment. This time, he was the one who started it, but he did not finish it.
Perez was lifted for Jarrod Dyson, who stole second, took third on a grounder to the right side, and scored on Christian Colon's single for the go-ahead run. So, while Perez was the guy who got on base, it was not he who scored the run.
In essence, Perez was always just a part of something. The Royals are not designed for their parts to be individually great; their are designed to ......ugh.... be greater than the sum of their parts (sorry). Or something like that. An individual award is given out, so someone had to receive it. Perez has a pretty good case, but he did not exactly stand out; he just never disappeared.
Alex Gordon's dinger against Jeurys Familia stands out. Edinson Volquez and his two good starts (which were not lacking for drama themselves) amidst personal tragedy stand out. Chris Young and his relief innings in Game 1 and adequacy in Game 4 stand out. Alcides Escobar's inside-the-park home run stands out. Ben Zobrist, who was a doubles machine in the postseason, stands out as one of the few guys the Royals had who could work the count (more walks than strikeouts; Alex Gordon did this as well).
Maybe this is a microcosm for the Royals. It takes multiple guys to keep the line moving. Perez was just a part of the line, but he contributed more than the others to keep it moving.
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