The elite class of the Major Leagues is on display right now. The Rangers and Cardinals are the best of the best – the survivors. They have earned the right to grow disgusting beards and wear beat up, sweat-crusted caps. They both deserve to be there.
The current Royals could not match up with either of these teams.
It’s tough, but it’s true – and I think most Royals fans can accept that. I did say the current Royals. During the season, KC played both the Cardinals & Rangers a total of 14 times & won just 4. Though, to be fair, those games weren’t really against the current Royals. All of those games were completed by June 19th, which was the middle of our rock bottom month. It was still transition time.
As of that last run in with the Redbirds, Mike Moustakas had played a total of 8 games. He was still working his way into the lineup, so played just two of the 14 games against these two teams. Matt Treanor was still doing the bulk of the catching. Chris Getz was the everyday second baseman.
They made positional improvements & I think they would be more competitive against both World Series teams in September, when the Royals were at their best. The Royals were 15-10 in September, playing .600 baseball. They won a season high 7 games in a row. They outscored their opponents by 29 runs. BUT – during the same month, the Rangers went 19-6 (.760) & outscored their opponents by 80 runs. The Rangers played .626 baseball through June, July, August, and September combined. That’s not a hot streak, that’s a good baseball team.
During September, the Cardinals were 18-8 (.692). They willed their way into the playoffs with the help of an epic Atlanta Braves meltdown, and while the players stepped up, the Cardinals also have Tony LaRussa as their secret weapon. The man over-tinkers & micro-manages, but is a strategic genius & an asset to that team who has been riding a hot streak of right moves. Not saying that Ned Yost couldn’t handle a playoff run, but his track record does not stack up with either LaRussa or Ron Washington. In 2008, when Yost was managing the Brewers, the team made the playoffs but Yost was fired with 12 games to go in the season. That doesn’t say a lot about the franchise’s faith in him to lead them to the World Series.
The Royals’ first run in with the A.L. Champion Texas Rangers was in April, in the 20th game of the young season. The boys in blue came in with a 12-7 record, struggling a bit, but still riding high on their strong start. The Rangers yanked them back down to earth with a harsh three-game sweep in which they hit 8 Home Runs.
The Royals faced the World Series teams eight times in May, splitting a quick two-game set with the Rangers, then facing the Cardinals on the same home stand. They beat the Cardinals in game 1 to climb back to .500, then lost the next two. They would not sniff .500 again.
Five days later, the Royals made their second trip to Arlington. A win in game 1 could have set the tone for the series, but instead, the Rangers pounded the Royals in Game 2 & then won a close one in Game 3.
Happy to not face the Rangers anymore in 2011, the Royals had one more three-game set in June vs. St. Louis. The series went 2-1 in the Cardinals favor yet again, but the Royals managed to beat Chris Carpenter for the second time on the season. At the end of that series, the team was 31-41 and found themselves in last place in the A.L. Central for the first time all year.
All said and done, the Royals were 2-4 against the Cardinals and 2-6 against the Rangers.
It’s one thing to have a strong month, or to get hot at the right time. The Cardinals proved that you can catch fire, sneak into the playoffs, and ride your momentum all the way to (possibly) the top. The Cardinals though, were in the hunt all year long. They had a rough June, but recovered. Texas was just plain good all year. Maybe some day the Royals will be ready to step onto the same field as these two teams, but not today. As of right now, they are still a group of Not Ready for Primetime Players.