Yesterday, the Kansas City Royals won their 72nd game of the season with a thrilling 3-1 victory in 13 innings over the Cincinnati Reds. That victory gave the Royals a 13.5 game lead over the Minnesota Twins for the American League Central and a six game lead over the New York Yankees for the best record in the American League. Despite their various flaws, the Royals have essentially dominated the division since the start of the year.
Looking back at the prognostications from various experts at the start of the season, it would appear as though the Royals have greatly overachieved thus far. Most pundits expected that the Royals would slide back, falling back to the realm of irrelevancy after their surprising run through the postseason last year. The only problem is, someone forgot to let the Royals know that they were not supposed to succeed.
So, why bring this back up now? After all, the Royals have to be considered one of the favorites in the American League, if not all of baseball, to win the World Series. Well, that 72nd victory last night happens to match the number that Baseball Prospectus had predicted the Royals would win throughout the entirety of the 2015 season.
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Currently, the Kansas City Royals would need to lose their remaining 44 games for this prediction to come true. The odds of that happening are so minimal that I will personally eat my car if that happens. Instead, if anything, these Royals have been even better than last year’s team, playing with a confidence born from their successes last year. The Royals have tasted success, and hunger for more.
Obviously, there have been struggles along the way. They have been without their star left fielder, Alex Gordon, for over a month and a half. Greg Holland has been shaky at times in the closer role. Yordano Ventura did not take that step forward the Royals expected him to take. Alex Rios and Omar Infante have struggled for much of the season. And yet, the Royals have been able to overcome these problems and continue to succeed.
While it helps that Edinson Volquez has been better than most people expected, and that Lorenzo Cain has emerged as a viable MVP candidate, the Royals success this year goes far beyond that. That success has come from their belief and knowledge that they are a contending ballclub, one that can overcome adversity and struggles that may have derailed their season years ago.
It is always fun to look back at predictions from the start of the season and see how accurate they were. In the case of the Kansas City Royals, most of these predictions are going to be wildly inaccurate. Of course, that may be because it is difficult to quantify intangibles, something that the Royals have been able to master over the past few seasons.