After being just 90 feet away from tying Game 7 of the World Series last season, the Kansas City Royals finished the job this year, in convincing fashion. The Royals defeated the New York Mets last night 7-2, after scoring 5 runs in the top of 12th inning, winning the series 4-1, and capturing it’s first title since 1985.
Hats off to the Royals, who weren’t even given a shot going into their 2015 campaign. ESPN and Sports Illustrated posted their preseason predictions on April 4th, featuring 21 of their baseball “experts”. Just two experts predicted KC to win the AL Central. And only one expert picked them to win the wild card. None of them picked the Royals to get to, or win the ALCS, never mind the World Series.
KC was getting no love, just a season after they had lost the World Series in 7 games. They were considered a flash in the pan, just barely getting into the postseason last year by beating Oakland in the Wild Card game.
Clearly they had some unfinished business to tend to.
They went on to win the AL Central, by 12 games, going 95-67. They ran into a hot Houston Astros team who gave them a run for their money, almost sending them home after 4 games, until the Royals rallied from down 6-2 to win the game 9-6, and eventually the series the next night. That was the theme all postseason, rallying and finding a way to win.
KC had to comeback in someway 8 of their 16 postseason games. Some of their win probabilities in those games; 25%, 18%, 16%, 10%, 8%, 5%,1%. Just numbers to them, as they found a way to win every time.
It wasn’t because of luck that this happened either, the Royals were simply good at playing baseball when down. Their ability to string together hits, get guys on, and move them along the bases was their best attribute.
The Royals also had one of the best bullpens in the MLB, and it proved so in the postseason, posting a 0.73 ERA, and a .149 opponent’s batting average.
I’m no expert but, I think the 21 guys that say they are, missed a couple things when ranking this Royals team preseason.
Side note: It’s always nice to see a baseball team win with a low payroll. KC had the 14th highest in the league, the last time a team won the WS with a payroll that low was the 2003 Florida Marlins.