By In Stuff

Your American League Champion …

… Kansas City Royals!

A SportsWorld story telling a few old Royals stories, a few new ones and finally making the comparison that should have been made: Ned Yost is the Ron Swanson of baseball.

15 Responses to Your American League Champion …

  1. wondertwin97 says:

    This was a fun read. I’m counting the days until the season starts even though I still have a foot of snow in my backyard it feels like Spring is finally here.

  2. MikeN says:

    Has anyone written anything about the Royals vs Cardinals series?

  3. MikeN says:

    Teams will really be gunning for KC this year, treating every showdown as the World Series.

  4. So, fluke or trend? The Braves are actually talking about making contact more, moving runners over, bunting, etc. and noting that it worked for the Royals. This actually disturbs me. While the non stop strikeout brigade of last year did need to stop, and contact is great, a bunch of .250 hitting slap hitters aren’t going to take the NL East by storm.

    Same with the Royals. They had their magical year, minus the ending that they seemed poised to have. One year, things can break well. The 1988 Dodgers is my best comparison (I’ve used it many times). They won 94 games &, in the World Series, beat the invincible A’s in impossible ways. The next year? With the same team, albeit without Kirk Gibson for more than half the year (though they did add Eddie Murray), They went 77-83, even while ranking #1 in NL ERA. Why? Their regulars were a bunch of scrubs who had career years in 1988 & went crazy in the playoffs. It wasn’t sustainable & after the 1989 year ended, looking back, it wasn’t realistic to expect a repeat of 1988. Vin Scully famously called the entire season of 1988 “Improbable” even while it was unfolding before us all. You have to hand it to Vin to be the only person with any real perspective. Anyway, expect the same for the Royals, except he ranking #1 in pitching part. By the end of the year, everyone will look back, review the lineup & wonder how they could have expected another magical year like 2014.

    • KHAZAD says:

      You are comparing them to a team with several offensive players who had career years, and that was simply not the case for the Royals. As a matter of fact, at least 4 (and you could make an argument for 5) of the players in the Royals starting 9 had their worst offensive year as an MLB player. Talk to me about losing Shields and I’ll l agree. Say the big three bullpen guys are due for some regression and I will certainly see your point. Say they are due for some injury trouble after a virtually injury free year (It is amazing how often teams having very few injuries outperform expectations, and how often an unexpected down year can be linked to a higher injury rate to key players) and I will knock on wood and say you are probably right. Actually, in a general sense, you could bet on teams that had surprisingly good years not matching it the next year, and any team that had surprisingly disappointing ones rebounding somewhat, and you could make a living on it if you could get someone to take the bets. You are not exactly out on a limb with that.

      But if you are comparing them to a team that is a poster child for offensive regression, you aren’t familiar with the team and are speaking from ignorance. Regression is working for the Royals offensively this year.

      I wouldn’t say that bunting is going to be a thing (The Royals did not bunt much more than the average team in the AL, so identifying them as a bunting team is a mistake.) but contact is definitely going to be one, especially with run scoring in a downward trend. The biggest mistake made by sabermetricians in analyzing the offensive values of the game had been to virtually ignore contact, and to underestimate the negativity of the strikeout. (Pitchers ability to induce K’s are probably the largest thing in pitcher analysis, but hitters ability to limit the number of K’s is completely ignored. This doesn’t compute.) Routinely, teams that make significantly above average amount of contact and strike out less score more runs than sabermetrics say that they should score, and teams that are on the other end of the spectrum score less. Teams that make more contact tend to be better at moving runners over and they score more runs. It is not as much of a difference as having better hitters to begin with, but it is a significant difference.

      The ability to make contact IS going to be a thing in the future of baseball, and the Braves particularly are right to focus on it after last season.

  5. Tigerpiper says:

    Nice article. Please retire the “law firm” trope, i.e. Black, Brown & White etc. Any time you add “and” to a string of names does not make it the name of a law firm, and though it may have been funny 15 years (150?) ago, it adds nothing now. I am a lawyer. I have a senses of humor. This is just trite.

  6. Bernard Pope says:

    My favorite Royals flub was when the Buddy Bell managed team batted out of order in the first inning of a game. Yes first inning! Truly a remarkable accomplishment for any baseball team at any level from little league to the majors.

  7. Brett Alan says:

    Just a nitpick. The article says that Tony Muser was having pitchers practice sliding even though there was no chance they would need to slide during the season. However, unless I’m seeing incorrect information, Muser became the manager of the Royals in 1997, the same year interleague play started. So there was, in fact, a chance that the pitchers would be running the bases that year.

  8. Joe,
    I love almost all of your work. I usually love your Royals articles. I have officially grown tired of your “this is how bad the Royals are/were” stories. Your column suggests a couple times that “people” were sitting around telling these stories but devoted Posnanski readers know that these are all of your Royals’ stories. They rehash what a laughing stock the organization has been. I thought you had written them for the last time this past fall but obviously you had to bring them out at least one more time. Please retire these anecdotes. We’ve already heard them and can almost quote them by heart. I’m surprised you’re not tired of typing the same words in the same order by now.


  9. Adrian says:

    I want to second the words of Joseph LaBella.

    Mr. Posnanski, please retire your “old stories” about the Royals. They are beyond tiresome for this Royals fan as well.

  10. The Royals are a breath of fresh air. I’d love to see a team of seemingly few stars to small ball their way to a title. Shame they got steamrolled last year. Hopefully they can keep up the momentum, but it will be hard to maintain for too long, as I can’t imagine the Yankees being crap for too much longer, and with a stronger Boston and strong Detroit, it’s always going to be difficult.

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