Don’t look now, but the Kansas City Royals are making their postseason push. On June 1st, the Royals were 26-30, and sitting in last place in the American League’s Central Division. Since then, however, they are 37-23 and just a half game out of first, behind the Detroit Tigers. So why the sudden change? For one, winning streaks of ten and seven games will always help. And not to mention, playing in the incredibly inept Central Division is always good for 30+ wins. But there has to be something more, right? A big trade, perhaps? Maybe an overachieving summer call-up? Why are the Kansas City Royals still playing good baseball late in the season? Don’t they know the playoffs are approaching?
Look, please don’t take the above questions as being rhetorical or facetious. I genuinely am curious as to what is making this constantly underachieving ball club click.In the past, baseball fans could count on the Kansas City Royals to keep up with the top teams in the AL Central, usually hanging around until the All-Star Break, or into mid-August. Ah, but there’s the difference. This time around, the Royals aren’t just hanging around; they’re IN it.
But we digress. As for my original inquiries, I took a look at the Royals roster. Their overall offensive numbers aren’t all that impressive. Aside from the .263 batting average that is fourth best in all of baseball, the Royals don’t do many things offensively that wow. They’ve scored just 472 runs, are on-base just 31.2 % of the time, and don’t hit for much power, either. Only three players have more than 10 home runs on the season, and one of them (Mike Moustakas) is hitting a paltry .199. However, when they do reach base, they use speed to their advantage. Jarrod Dyson, who hits last, has possibly the most consistent stat sheet on the roster. He leads the Royals in stolen bases (26) and doesn’t strike out a ton (18%), leading for better chances on the bases. But, he’s only played in 85 games, so there must be something else.
On the defensive side of the diamond, the Royals’ pitching staff seems to answer many of the questions posed. While they are not tops in any major category, one would find that this Kansas City club has relied heavily, as of late, on its arms. Tenth in the MLB in both ERA (3.58) and quality starts (66), the Royals use their pitching to their advantage. Wade Davis (0.89 ERA) is 6-2 as a reliever. The closer, Greg Holland, has 34 saves to go along with a 1.77 ERA. James Shields is still cruising, and somehow the rest of the starting rotation has been adequate enough to give the bullpen a chance.
As long as the pitching sustains, and some timely hitting ensues, they should be fine. At this point, it seems as though the Kansas City Royals might actually give people a reason to be watching the American League Central. Well, I doubt that will happen sober, but who knows. For me, the possibility that Ned Yost and the boys might actually do something special is enough to keep my attention.