How important is team chemistry for the Kansas City Royals to repeat their 2014 success?
Now that spring training is fully underway and the regular season is approaching, we hear all sorts of predictions and analytics about every team. One thing always mentioned is the “chemistry” of a team. Some say it is what makes a team. Some say it has no effect on a team and that it is purely about talent. Which is it? The importance of team chemistry could not be more evident than to us Royals fans this last October.
The country watched as the underdog Royals swept their way to a World Series in one of the most exciting months that Kansas City has ever seen. Let’s rewind about 7 months before at the start of the 2014 season when analyst would be making their predictions for the season. Certainly the year would belong to teams like the Dodgers with a $235 million payroll. Right?
The Kansas City Royals finally ended their 29 year playoff drought and made it past the wild card game in one of the most exciting games ever played. Next up, the Angels. The Royals could never beat this powerhouse team with big names like Albert Pujols and Mike Trout. Right? If I am being honest, even I had my doubts. I believed in the team but after years of heartbreak after heartbreak we are trained to think that maybe our team was just not meant to have success. Well, the Royals proved everyone wrong.
It got us all thinking about how this happened. Of course, it made no sense on paper that the Royals, with their relatively small $92 million payroll, could make it this far. Could this be their chemistry that we so often hear about?
During the month of October, we may not have seen one big, powerhouse name on the Kansas City Royals blowing everyone out of the water. What we did see, though, was Salvador Perez chasing Lorenzo Cain around the locker room with a camera. We saw Danny Duffy photo-bombing in a bear suit. We saw Billy Butler imitating Jarrod Dyson by dancing on the bag as he stole second. It was quite clear that the only ones who enjoyed the month of October more than Royals fans, were the Royals players themselves.
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We saw a group of guys who looked like young kids, best friends, having fun playing ball. We saw their team chemistry. This is not to say that this team didn’t have talent because they definitely proved that. But it was the excitement and passion that got them through the month that ultimately led them to being one swing away from a World Championship.
During this off-season, we have watched the American League Central turn into one of the most competitive divisions with additions such as Jeff Samardzija, Melky Cabrera, Brandon Moss and Yoenis Cespedes. It can be scary to hear that we will have to face those names several times in 2015.
The Kansas City Royals made a few key moves but did not add big names like the rest of their division did. On paper the Royals will not be favored to win this division. I have already heard analysts who have picked the reigning American League Champions to finish 4th in the division this year. This is nothing new for Royals fans.
The best off-season move that the Kansas City Royals management made was to not mess up the team chemistry and the tight-knit group. How important will this chemistry be for the Kansas City Royals this year? Is it even a factor? That seems to be something everyone has their own opinion about, but as far as I am concerned, chemistry is what took the Royals to game 7 of the World Series last year. This year, they plan on getting that extra 90 feet with the same enthusiasm and small ball feel that these boys demonstrated last year. One thing we know for sure, is that they will have a blast doing it.