Last season, after sitting at 43-49 at the All-Star break and 11.5 games out of the Wild Card, the Kansas City Royals appeared as though they did not have a chance at the postseason. A five game losing streak heading into the break certainly did not engender hope as the second half approached. As we all know, the Royals went on a run in the second half, falling just short in their bid to make the postseason for the first time since 1985.
This year, despite the Royals offensive struggles, the Royals find themselves in a much better spot. Instead of having to surge past virtually the entire American League, the Royals are 48-46, sitting only 2.5 games out of the Wild Card. Even the American League Central may not be out of reach, as the Royals are only 6.5 games out of first, despite their awful showing in the four game series prior to the break.
During the second half of last season, everything clicked for the Royals. Bruce Chen was a revelation when he slotted back into the starting rotation, solidifying the latter part of the staff. Eric Hosmer started to hit like the player he was expected to develop into. The bullpen was outstanding. The Royals just ran out of time to complete the comeback.
Things could be different this season. As the Royals do not have as many teams to climb over, just needing to play better than the Los Angeles Angeles or the Seattle Mariners (the more likely of the two teams) while holding the teams behind them at bay. Of course, that is entirely dependent upon the Royals ability to replicate the magic from last year.
If the schedule is any indication, the Royals may be able to do just that. Of the 66 games that the Royals have left this season, only 16 are against teams above .500, including another six games against the Detroit Tigers. The Mariners, meanwhile, have 38 games left against teams over .500, including seven against the Royals closest competitor, the Toronto Blue Jays. It would seem as though the schedule would favor the Royals to get past Seattle.
Should the Royals offense continue to show the improvement that it had prior to the break, the postseason is a real possibility. Hosmer has gone from being completely lost at the plate to hitting at a .426/.500/.660 rate with two home runs in July as he has a 13 game hitting streak. Omar Infante has produced a .436/.450/.487 batting line. James Shields has seemingly overcome his struggles from June, and has a 2.84 ERA and a 1.16 WHiP. The Royals may be poised for another run.
Another impact bat for the lineup certainly would not hurt, but the Royals may be in solid shape regardless. If the schedule is any indication, the Royals may find themselves playing in October for the first time in a generation.
Tags: Kansas City Royals