Josh Willingham was traded to the Kansas City Royals in the hope that he would help get the Royals to the postseason. As a power bat who can work a count, Willingham provided the Royals with the type of player that they were missing from their lineup. As another possible threat, Willingham was expected to be the type of player who could push the Royals into the postseason.
Just as the Royals have not been in the postseason for the past 28 years, Willingham also has his own postseason slump. See, despite playing for eleven years, and appearing in over 1100 games, Willingham has never made the postseason. He has been a victim of bad timing, joining the Florida Marlins after their last World Series title, then heading to the Washington Nationals before they became a perennial contender. From there, he went to the Oakland A’s and the Minnesota Twins, missing their respective windows.
Now, this may be the only chance that Josh Willingham has to break through and get that playoff game under his belt. According to reports, Willingham may well call it a career after the 2014 season concludes. Even though Willingham maintains that he has not yet made a decision, making the postseason may well be a deciding factor.
Should this truly be the final season for Willingham, he has made a solid impression on the Royals. Despite having a hamstring injury that has slowed him during the month of September, Willingham has posted a .243/.361/.400 batting line with two home runs and five doubles. His 112 OPS+ is second on the team for any players with 80 or more plate appearances, trailing only Alex Gordon. Brought in to help improve the Royals offense, Willingham has done his part since he has been here.
There is plenty of motivation for the Royals to make the playoffs. They have an entire generation of fans who have yet to witness a postseason where the Royals are involved. Meaningful October baseball just has not happened in a long time. This team, this city and this fanbase all yearn for the postseason. If they needed any more motivation, perhaps knowing that this could be Willingham’s final chance to make the playoffs will help.
A career .253/.359/.465 hitter with 195 home runs, Josh Willingham had a solid run. Now, all that is left is to taste the postseason. Hopefully, that happens next week.