I have this image in my head of how this 2014 season is unfolding. Every week Ned Yost walks up to Dayton Moore’s office where a coin sits on the desk. Dayton flips the coin, Ned calls it. If Ned is right the team is allowed to hit that week, but if he is wrong they are not. This leads to all of the inexplicable things we have seen so far; swept by Minnesota followed by 5 wins in a row, getting pantsed at home by Detroit and Houston and then nearly again by Detroit going into the All-Star break, a 10 game win streak where the Royals nearly returned the favor to Detroit in their place, and getting swept coming out of the All-Star break followed by followed by another win streak. This team is streaky, but how streaky?
By my metric, they are the 3rd streakiest team in the majors this year. Only Boston and Tampa Bay have been more volatile so far, but they have done it very differently. Tampa started the year off with lots of little and big losing streaks before recently flipping a switch and running off some nice winning streaks. Boston has had one long losing streak with a couple other shorter ones that are keeping them well out of the playoff chase. The Royals on the other hand are maddeningly inconsistent throughout.
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Luckily for this team, Detroit is also up and down at fourth on the list in a virtual tie with Kansas City, which might keep the door open if the Royals can rattle off another long winning streak or a few little ones. Or it could spell disaster if Detroit streaks away and hides. What I won’t be counting on is the Royals offense suddenly becoming consistent enough to keep the losing streaks from cropping up again. There are no big bats waiting out there for the Royals to pick up. Alex Rios is not going to save anything, although he is insanely streaky himself so maybe he would fit right in.
Being a streaky team does not really relate to a team being good or bad, and really if you get into the playoffs it could become a great attribute for a team that will not be as talented as some of the others. I like this teams in some ways, but I no longer trust it, or any of its parts at all. Should James Shields win a game where he gives up 2 runs and the opposing pitcher is Kyle Gibson, yes he should. That hurts trust, but the weird and unpredictable winning streaks also gives me an irrational hope when I look ahead to a series in Oakland this weekend and see Jeremy Guthrie versus Sonny Gray followed by Bruce Chen versus the old and improved Scott Kazmir.
This Royals bunch is okay. We have seen them be very good at times, but there is too much bad other times to believe that good version can be a consistent phenomenon. It means our hope for ending the long playoff droughts now rests in getting on a hot streak at some point and hoping a door opens up. That isn’t the best hope to have, but at least we have a streaky team that could possibly do it.