Seven Kansas City Royals ready to dominate October
The Kansas City Royals have returned to October on a quest to win their first World Series in 30 years. Who will be the stars of KC's championship run? Let's take a look.
7. Yordano Ventura, SP
Ventura has gone from something of a loose cannon at the beginning of the season to Game 1 ALDS starter for the Royals, and he’s ready to fully realize his ace potential. His 3.67 FIP (fielding independent pitching) came in just behind Johnny Cueto and put him in the top 30 among all starting pitchers. After playing the goat last postseason, Ventura is ready to blow away lineups with high-90 fastballs this year. You want to step in?
6. Eric Hosmer, 1B
Hosmer, in many ways, has become the face and soul of the Royals. He ranked in the top nine among first basemen this season in WAR (3.5), and his .355 wOBA ranks him 11th at his position, right in front of the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez. Kansas City has a number of guys who could deliver the huge hit in October, but nobody would be surprised if that guy turns out to be Hosmer.
TNS via Getty ImagesKansas City Star
5. Johnny Cueto, SP
Cueto hasn’t been the ace KC hoped for when it traded away three young southpaws this summer to acquire him -- he has a 4.76 ERA in 81 1/3 innings with the Royals -- but none of that matters in the postseason. October dominance is about timing and luck as much as anything, and Cueto still has the stuff to control hitters. He doesn’t need to be MadBum, but if the Royals are going to win the World Series, Cueto’s gotta dominate.
4. Ben Zobrist, 2B
Zobrist never got the respect he deserved in Tampa Bay, and he’s not getting it in KC now, but that’s fine. Every Royals fan knows his worth and can appreciate the .284/.364/.453 line he churned out in 264 plate appearances since he was traded from Oakland in the summer. With Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain in the lineup, Zobrist is at least fourth on the list of worries for opposing pitchers, which makes him the perfect guy to own KC’s postseason run. Zobrist for World Series MVP? Let’s do this.
Getty ImagesTom Szczerbowski
3. Wade Davis, RP
Every dominant postseason team needs a dominant bullpen, and the Royals are among the best in baseball there. KC's pen ranked fifth with a 5.0 WAR this season, and Davis is the guy who will snuff out jams and squash hopes in the coming weeks, beginning with the series against Houston. He ranked ninth among all relievers with 2.0 WAR, and his 92.2 percent left-on-base rate ranked third among relievers with at least 30 innings pitched. Davis will be the guy securing the final out of KC’s first championship in 30 years.
John Rieger-USA TODAY SportsJohn Rieger
2. Alex Gordon, LF
While Hosmer might feel like the beating heart of the Royals, Gordon is the town mayor. His ninth year in KC hasn’t been his best, and he struggled through September, making him seem like an odd choice to bust out in October. But remember law No. 1 of postseason governance: timing and luck. Gordon still produced 2.8 WAR, with a .351 wOBA, in 104 games this year. He didn’t forget how to hit. If KC makes a title run, Gordon is going to be in the middle of the party.
John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/TN
1. Lorenzo Cain, CF
Who else could be No. 1? This was a transformative year for Cain in which he became one of the very best players in baseball. Cain ranked ninth in WAR (6.6), hitting .307/.361/.477 and was the third-most valuable defender in center field, which ranks six spots ahead of Mike Trout, according to Fangraphs. He’s the most valuable hitter playing this October, with Josh Donaldson and Kris Bryant somewhere in that debate, and this postseason should be his official breakout party on the national stage. Welcome to superstardom, Lorenzo Cain.