Lineup: The Astros were sixth in the majors in runs scored (729), one spot ahead of the Royals (724). Houston was second to the Blue Jays in home runs (230), nearly 100 more than the Royals (139). It also walked about 100 times more this season. Here’s the thing: the Astros strike out a lot more (1,392 to Royals’ 973). You may not realize this, either: Houston led the AL in stolen bases (121) and the Royals were second (104). Edge: Even
Bench: Houston had 11 players hit double-digit homers, and two others hit nine. So manager A.J. Hinch has options if he needs some power off the bench. Marwin Gonzalez can play around the infield and in left field. Jake Marisnick is an option to pinch run, but let’s not kid ourselves. He’s no Terrance Gore. And Paulo Orlando has shown a knack for contributing big hits this season. Edge: Royals
Defense: Based on FanGraphs’ numbers, the Royals led the majors in Defensive Runs Above Average, which measures a player’s defensive value relative to the league average. The Royals were No. 1 at 56.9, far ahead of second-place San Francisco (30.2). The Astros checked in at 19th at negative-7.6. Edge: Royals
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Rotation: The Astros’ starters had a better WHIP (1.25 to 1.37), more strikeouts (817 to 658), and went more innings (61 over the Royals). Scott Kazmir (5.89 ERA in his last nine starts) is starting Game 2, but Collin McHugh, Lance McCullers and Dallas Keuchel form a solid top three. The Royals’ Yordano Ventura has a 2.16 ERA in his last four starts. Johnny Cueto has a 3.24 ERA in his last four starts. Edinson Volquez has a career 2.46 ERA at Minute Maid Park. Edge: Even
Bullpen:The Royals have a better ERA (2.72 to 3.27) and more strikeouts (502 to 463), but Houston allowed fewer inherited runners to score (24 percent to 27 percent). A concern for the Royals is Kelvin Herrera, who has a 7.27 ERA and a .333 opponents’ batting average in his last 10 outings. But if it gets to the ninth, cyborg Wade Davis will close the door. Edge: Royals
Managers: Has the New York Times written a story in its magazine about Hinch? Nope, that was Ned Yost. Edge: Royals
Pick: Royals in four