BALTIMORE—Cal Ripken watched the New York Mets beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series and then saw the Mets sweep the Chicago Cubs in the NLCS, and he liked what he saw from New York.
The Mets’ good play could carry into the World Series when it begins on Tuesday in Kansas City.
“I’m an American League guy, so you always want to look at the American League and give a little bit of an edge to them, but we covered the National League this year, and I can’t tell you how impressive the Mets’ young ‘Big Three’ were,” Ripken said.
Ripken, who covered both Mets’ series for TBS as an analyst, spoke at the Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation “College Season Tip-off” on Monday.
New York will throw Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndegaard at the Royals in the first three games of the World Series.
“Not only do they have real big arms, they throw 100 miles an hour or in the upper 90’s. You watch the radar gun all the time as a hitter, and you kind of think: ‘Do they ever come down below 95?’
“They pitched. They mix in their changeups. They mixed in their breaking balls really well. When you have that level fastball with the secondary pitches that are working, any offensive team that’s going to struggle,” Ripken said.
It took New York five games to beat the Dodgers, but they bested Chicago, which beat St. Louis in four, without losing a game.
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“You took a Cubs team that was hot, swinging the bats really well and hitting home runs. All of a sudden you took that away from them, and they didn’t have the ability to really score runs,” Ripken said.
The Royals beat the Toronto Blue Jays in six games.
“Kansas City, in their run, it seems like they learned a lot from being in the playoffs last year. They got more confident each round, and they played with sort of a freedom that few teams have a chance to play for in the postseason,” Ripken said.
“A lot of times, you get uptight, you don’t have the experience. If you’ve been there a little bit before, and you’ve had success, then all of a sudden you realize it’s the same game, and there’s a freedom. I saw that freedom open up for the Mets.”
Ripken pointed out that New York’s 51 stolen bases were last in the National League. The Orioles trailed the majors with just 44.
“They were running wild in the postseason. They had the guts and the courage to put it to them. They were manufacturing runs, and they were still scoring runs. Their offense had improved when [Yoenis] Cespedes came over, but the Mets are on some kind of roll right now,” Ripken said.
A year ago, Ripken analyzed the ALCS between the Orioles and the Royals, and he liked what he saw from K.C.
“Their players have developed nicely from their last run in the postseason, and they ran through the league this year. I imagine it should be a real competitive series, but I’d give the edge, personally right now to the Mets,” Ripken said.