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ALCS Preview: Royals vs. Orioles

Tommy Gilligan/USA TODAY Sports

The Royals live by the stolen base, but preventing them is Game 1 starter Chris Tillman's strength.Stat to Watch: Chris TillmanOrioles Game 1 starter Chris Tillman is just the right person to deter the Royals baserunning advantage. Opponents are 2 for 13 stealing against Tillman in the last two seasons and have been successful on only 32 percent of their attempts the last three seasons, the lowest success rate in baseball.

Inverse Opponents

The Orioles finished atop the majors in home runs and last in stolen bases this season and their ALCS opponent, the Royals, finished last in homers and first in steals. This is the first time this happened in the same season since the inaugural World Series was played in 1903.

Compare & Contrast

The Orioles led the majors in home runs and finished last in stolen bases, the first team to do that since 1979 and only the sixth team to do that since 1903 (the first World Series). Only one of the previous five made the postseason -- the 1968 Tigers — but they won the World Series (by beating the Cardinals, which the Orioles could do).

On the flip side, the Royals became the 18th team to finish last in homers and first in steals since 1903 (the first World Series). Only three of those previous 17 teams — the 1987 Cardinals, 1965 Dodgers and 1959 White Sox — made the postseason, and only one of them — the 1965 Dodgers — won the World Series .

The distance between them

The Orioles hit more than twice as many home runs as the Royals during the regular season (211 to 95). In terms of total home run distance, the Orioles hit the ball over twice as far as the Royals (15.72 miles worth of home runs to 7.17).

Nelson Cruz, who led all of baseball with 40 home runs, had a total distance of 16,088 feet. The Royals as a team had 37,844 total feet of home runs, meaning that Cruz’s total home run distance was equal to nearly 43 percent of the Royals total distance.

This is largely due to the contrast in the team’s home ballparks- Camden Yards and Kauffman Stadium- among the least spacious and most-spacious ballparks in baseball.

There were 211 home runs hit at Camden Yards, 95 of which would not have been home runs in Kansas City.

Speaking of Cruz, Only Hank Aaron (4.67) has a better career at-bats per home run rate in LCS play than Cruz (5.25), among hitters with at least 10 LCS plate appearances.

The long suffering will end for someone

Among American League teams only the Mariners, with no World Series appearances since MLB returned to Seattle in 1977, have waited longer for a return to the Fall Classic than the Orioles (last appearance: 1983) and Royals (1985).

A total of 15 Royals on the current active roster were not yet born when their team last appeared with the championship on the line. That number swells to 19 for the Orioles who haven’t competed for a title since Cal Ripken was just 22 and a guy who went by the name “Disco Dan” Ford patrolled right field for them.