The Royals are off to a 1-0 start as defending champs, having beat the Mets 4-3 last night, as well as raising their first World Series Championship banner in 30 years.
However, the Royals are now looking to add another banner to the Royals Hall of Fame, just like the 2015 one.
How can the Royals reach their third straight World Series appearance and repeat as champions?
Pitching and defense
Yes, the same tried and true recipe for these Royals during this successful run. James Shields changed the starting mentality during his two seasons here and while there was a little drop off last season the starters still did their job en route to the title.
2. Relief pitching
While those three were important Luke Hochevar, Kris Medlen, Danny Duffy all came up big at one time or another. While Madson left for Oakland, Dayton Moore brought back fan favorite Joakim Soria to fill the void, in addition the team should have enough assets to make up for Greg Holland not being around this season (unsigned but not available).
3. Playing with a chip on their shoulder
The 2014 Royals were surprising everyone on their way to making an unexpected World Series run that came up a game short. In 2015, the Royals were still pegged as underdogs, with most pundits scoffing the franchise making it back in 2015, projecting them to finish fourth in their own division.
For 2016, it already seems like many are once again doubting this teams ability to make it back to the postseason, which should motivate the Royals that much more.
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4. Ticking clock
Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Hosmer, Davis and Escobar are eligible sooner than later for free agency, which has led to players to say the urgency to win these next couple years, with this group, increases.
5. Ned Yost
Labeled the “dunce” during the 2014 American League Championship by a prominent east coast newspaper, Yost has changed his thinking and has become a better manager. Does Ned do things that irk this fan base? Absolutely. But his evolution as a manager has helped lead this team to more wins than it has losses.
6. Divisional success
While the Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins all made improvements to their rosters this offseason, will it be enough to overtake the Royals?
Kansas City showed mastery over the White Sox and Twins while posting winning records against the two “favorites” from 2015 in the Indians and Tigers.
Taking care of business in their neighborhood for 2016 will help efforts to get back into the postseason. For what it’s worth, the Royals ended last season at 44-32 versus division foes a season ago.
Likely overlooked by most fans, it’s been no secret that success against the NL has been part of increasing the teams win total over the last few seasons.
In 2015, they went 13-7 against the NL Central and in 2014, were 12-8 facing NL West teams.
They’ll face the NL East in 2016, which should lead to more wins seeing the likes of Atlanta, Miami and Philadelphia.
The Royals will, however, face good tests against New York and Washington, in addition to the I-70 series against St. Louis.
8. Hosmer breakout:
We have not mentioned much about individual players during this road map to success this season, but is this finally the season the Kansas City first baseman has his breakout year? Last postseason, he came up with some big hits and, arguably, the biggest moment, with his mad dash home in-game five to tie the game up.
Being one of the teams leaders, if he can up his offensive numbers to go with his growing collection of gold gloves, the American League should look out.
9. Winning at the K
Opposing teams have noticed just how hard it’s been to win at Kauffman Stadium since 2013, going 137-106 at home, including a postseason record of 12-3 over the past two seasons.
After losing game one against Houston in the ALDS, the Royals won six straight games at home on the trail to a title.
While an underrated factor, health has been a big part of the Royals winning as much as they have over the past three seasons.
Sure, they have experienced injuries with Lorenzo Cain and Hosmer in 2014 as well as Gordon and Holland last year, but by and large, they have done a nice job avoiding injuries. We should also credit the organization for having back-ups like Paulo Orlando and Jarrod Dyson to fill in those spots when guys got hurt.