It’s been 29 years, but baseball is finally back in Kansas City and it’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon.
- That’s the last time the Kansas City Royals made the playoffs.
Now in 2014, I’m all in on this team.
Every time mid-September rolls around I find myself looking for a team to really root for in the postseason. You know, that one team that can beat the Cardinals. The past four years it’s been the Texas Rangers because of my undeniable mancrush on Ian Kinsler.
And although I still have the opportunity to root for him this postseason, I don’t like cheering for the Detroit Tigers all too much. So with that, I’ve decided to take the road less traveled, and invest in the Kansas City Royals this October.
It helps that they play the game just how I like it: strong pitching and excellent base running.
The key to postseason success is not necessarily with a “Murderer’s Row”-type lineup anymore, but it’s with consistent pitching and great speed. See, that was my downfall with rooting for the Rangers. They had that stacked lineup, but everyone went cold at the same time.
That, and letting David Freese bend them over.
Anyways, the starting pitching in KC is very deep. Veteran ace James Shields sits atop a vaunted rotation, but he hasn’t even been their best pitcher this season. 25 year-old Danny Duffy has been awesome in 2014, and is making a legitimate case to start this postseason.
Now, if they go to the one-game wild card with say, the Mariners, then no doubt Shields takes the ball against King Felix.
Their starting pitching has been great all year. Not lights out, but consistently good. The bullpen, on the other hand, has been absolutely lights out. Had closer Greg Holland faltered at any time in the season, Manager Ned Yost would’ve had multiple options to fill in for him.
But he didn’t.
Holland is sporting a 1.57 ERA with 42 saves. Like I said, lights out. When he needs a day off, Wade Davis comes in with his eye-popping .82 ERA in 66 innings.
Then there’s set up man Kelvin Herrera who has a 1.55 ERA in 64 IP. If the starting pitcher can go out and get his six or seven innings, well, let’s just say it’s game over vs. the Royals.
When the Kansas City pitchers aren’t on the mound, it’s the base runners that are causing havoc. Ned Yost said coming into the season that he wanted to put pressure on the opposing defense, and has he ever. The Royals lead all of baseball with 142 stolen bases on an 82 percent success rate—good for third in the majors.
They are creating their own runs and forcing the issue when they get on base. Their top base stealers are Jarrod Dyson (34) and Alcides Escobar (31), showing that it’s a team-wide affair rather than just one guy like Dee Gordon in Los Angeles.
Every person on this team has the ability to swipe a base on any given pitch.
At the plate, they’re putting pressure on the defense as a result of their low strikeout rate. Players make errors, and that’s one thing I credit this Royals team with to the nth degree. They put the ball in play, recording the least amount strikeouts in the MLB.
It’s not even close, either.
With 900 total strikeouts, they have 126 less than the next closest team, the Athletics. It’s not rocket science, you have a much better chance of getting on base by putting the ball in play. And once they get on those bases, they are looking to advance at a moments notice.
They also have, in my opinion, the best defensive outfielder in baseball in Alex Gordon. The left fielder is equipped with a cannon of an arm that runners rarely test anymore. But it’s his reads off the bat and jumps on the ball that make him great.
He has a 6.2 WAR, which is good for fifth in the American League and eighth in all of baseball.
This October you can expect to hear me rooting for the Kansas City Royals. It’s a lot more fun when there’s good baseball being played in Kansas City, something that hasn’t happened since the George Brett era.
So if you’re looking for a team to root for this postseason, come on and join me on the Royals bandwagon.
With such a painfully long postseason drought, (sound familiar, Cubs fans?) the Kansas City faithful have paid their dues. Hopefully the Royals hold onto a wild card spot over these next two weeks.
Then I can finally put my Ian Kinsler mancrush in the rearview mirror.
(All photos courtesy of Keith Allison)