BALTIMORE - This American League Championship Series that starts Friday night at Camden Yards is being billed as Kansas City's speed against Baltimore's power, a pithy synopsis backed up by the numbers.
"Speed,'' Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said when asked how to describe his team. "One hundred percent speed.''
The Royals led the AL with 153 stolen bases. The Orioles ranked last with 44.
Speaking of the Royals' running game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter said: "They're not automatically going to all of a sudden run slower tomorrow. If anything, they're going to run faster. You don't control that. It's impossible. Try to keep them off base as much as you can.''
Conversely, the Orioles led the AL with 211 homers, a far cry from the Royals, who were last with 95.
But a look at the two Division Series, both three-game sweeps, showed plenty of similarities. Each team has a strong rotation and an out-of-this-world bullpen. For the Royals and often-criticized manager Ned Yost, it's Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and closer Greg Holland. Depending on matchups, Showalter uses Darren O'Day and lefthander Andrew Miller to set up lefty closer Zach Britton.
Showalter, however, cautioned against making assumptions about how the series will go based on that.
"Certainly that's a pretty easy 'go figure' on paper, because it's been the strength of both clubs,'' he said. "But the postseason has a way of . . . you really never assume or take anything for granted. That's what's so intriguing. Something that appears it should happen on paper may not happen. And you have to be ready to adjust to that 'what if?' ''
An example of that unpredictability came in the Royals' upset of the Angels; they erupted for four homers, as many as the O's hit off the Tigers. Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said season numbers aside, that's a better indication of what his team is capable of doing.
"If you put our team in this ballpark,'' Hosmer said of cozy Camden Yards, "we have a lot of power. Our team strength is being athletic, so we do different things to win ballgames. We feel there's a lot of similarities in these teams.''
And here's one more: Neither team can make a legitimate claim that it's the underdog. Although the Royals ended a 29-year postseason drought, it's not as if the Orioles have been a model franchise for the last 30 years. When they made the playoffs in 2012, it was their first trip since 1997. The Royals last won the World Series in 1985; the Orioles' most recent championship came in 1983.
"This is two good teams, two teams that were not supposed to be here,'' Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones said. "We're both playing with house money. Let's have some fun.''
Chris Davis left off roster. Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who was suspended 25 games by MLB on Sept. 12 for testing positive for Adderall, won't play in the ALCS. Davis would have been eligible to return in Game 6, but Showalter said he does not want to play a man short until then.