How good have these Royals been?
WARNING: This blog post is not meant for the eyes of Kansas City Royals fans, who already know exactly how good the Royals are. This post is for the other few million fans who might still have some reservation or three.
You might be excused for still being shocked, the day after, by the Kansas City Royals winning the World Series, despite not even being favored to win their division before the season. Just as you might have been shocked then the 2014 Royals, despite not considered a good bet to win even half their games before that season, very nearly won that year’s World Series, too.
You might be excused because of those pre-season forecasts, and also because the Royals’ run differentials during each of the two regular seasons, were relatively unimpressive: they outscored their opponents by only 27 runs last year, and by 83 runs this year. The Royals did win 57 percent of their games over the two seasons, but their run differential’s more in line with a team winning 54 percent of it’s games.
Again, hardly the sort of club you expect will come quite close to winning two straight World Series.
But while two full seasons constitutes plenty of data, why stop there? As it happens, the Royals have also played 31 postseason games in 2014 and ’15. What if we fold those games into the equation?
Well, they outscored their opponents 159-122 in those 31 games, which is obviously quite impressive. Adding the 159 to the ... carrying the 3 ... and now we’ve got the Royals theoretically winning 55 percent of their games.
In real life, they’ve won – again, including the postseasons – 58 percent of their games. That “extra” 3 percent is actually a significant figure, accounting for exactly 16 “extra” wins. But even 55 percent is still quite good! This year, a .550 winning percentage would have been third best in the American League, behind only the Blue Jays and ... the Royals, of course.
More: The Royals play in the better league, and in fact their record against National League teams was good even before they started beating up on the American League. Also, that tremendous record in the postseason was obviously done against top competition.
All of which is to suggest that while the Royals’ success might not have been predictable, and might still be difficult to understand, this was hardly a modestly talented team that lucked into a couple of World Series.
Actually, it’s two teams. Since only seven of last year’s every-day players, two of last year’s relievers, and one of season’s starting pitchers played key roles this October.
What’s the same, of course, is the core of the lineup. Which will return in 2016. If they can do it again next year, then maybe we’ll be impressed.*
** which I have to say because some readers take everything quite literally