KC Royals: Inability To Win Close Games Will Haunt Team In October


After excelling in close games the last two seasons, the KC Royals have suddenly hit a dry spell in one-run games. With a 1-6 record in their last seven one run games, and having lost four of their last five in extra innings, the Kansas City Royals are failing in the area that has made them a winner the last two years.

On Tuesday night, the only reason the KC Royals did not lose another one run game is that reliever Joba Chamberlain allowed an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Thus, the Kansas City Royals lost to the White Sox 4-2 instead of 3-2.

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The bottom line is that the KC Royals NEED to win close games if they hope to defend their American League pennant. If you buy into Bill James’ notion that run differential is the best way to measure relative team strength, then the Toronto Blue Jays are far stronger than the Kansas City Royals. Toronto enjoys the best run differential in major-league baseball at +223. The KC Royals check in at a mere +68.

According to James’ expected record estimates, Toronto “should” be 99-57 instead of 91-65, and the Kansas City Royals record according to run differential estimates checks in at 86-71 rather than their current 90-67.

Meanwhile, other playoff contenders like the Yankees (+80) and the Astros (+92) have better run differentials than Kansas City.

Yet, the KC Royals went all the way to the 2014 World Series with a run differential of +27. Part of the reason was catching momentum in their crazy 9-8 victory over Oakland in the 2014 American League Wild Card game. In short, the Kansas City Royals got hot at the right time.

But, there was more to their playoff run than momentum. The KC Royals were also a stronger team than their run differential would lead you to believe. Because of their historically strong back end of the bullpen and spectacular defense, the Kansas City Royals were particularly good at winning low scoring games. They were 12-7 when scoring four runs, and even managed to go 9-15 when scoring a mere three tallies.

In 2015, the KC Royals have been even better. They’re 15-6 when scoring a mere three runs, and 15-3 when scoring four. However, the Royals have lost seven games in the month of September while scoring three or more runs. They’ve seemingly lost some of their ability to win low-scoring games.

The KC Royals had better hope that their big division lead led to a loss of focus in September. Because if they lose their knack of winning low-scoring games, they’ll get blown away by better run differential teams like the Yankees, Astros, and Blue Jays in October.

Next: Royals Should Not Worry About Home Field Advantage

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