Most experts give the Royals the defensive edge, even though the Yanks committed fewer errors and completed almost as many double plays as Kansas City did during the season. As a comparison between Patek and New York Shortstop Fred Stanley indicates, defensive statistics are often misleading. Stanley committed far fewer errors than his K.C. counterpart, but Patek is clearly the superior man at short, with much greater range. He and his teammates will have another advantage in the first two games, which will be played in Kansas City on the only synthetic field in the league. The Royals have played 81 games on a rug this season. The Yanks have played six.
Kansas City's fielding superiority is even more decisive in the outfield. The Yankees will be much safer running on Catchers Bob Stinson and Buck Martinez than on the strong arms of Otis and Rightfielder Al Cowens. The Royals, meanwhile, will prefer challenging the looping pegs of White and Rivers rather than the hard throws of Munson.
In fact, catcher is the only position at which New York has a decided edge, but it is likely to be a most important one in a series between two fast clubs. While Munson may check the Royals' runners, Kansas City's catchers are not apt to stop the Yankees, especially Rivers. At least Munson's equal as a candidate for the league's MVP award, Rivers has provided the spark for New York's offense. The Yanks lost 12 of the 26 games he did not start this season. With him, they won 85 of 133.
Although neither team has played in a championship series before, another advantage for New York is experience. The Yankees are a patchwork club, put together largely through deals with other teams. They are two years per man older than the Royals, and nine of them and their manager have been on playoff or World Series teams in other cities. None of the young Royals or their manager have any experience in postseason play.
Thus, the rebuilt, repainted, repolished Yankees must be favored over the shiny new Royals. "Being better on paper doesn't mean you're better on the field," McRae argues. True enough, but New York, in different places at different times, has been there, and it always helps to know the way.