The KC Royals came into the 2016 season hoping to establish themselves in baseball history as a dynasty by repeating as World Series Champions. Is that hope still realistic 1/3 of the way through the season?
The Kansas City Royals stand 30-27 with slightly more than the first 1/3 of the 2016 season already in the books. They’re 2.5 games behind the Cleveland Indians for first place in the AL Central but are mired in a five-game losing streak in which their offense has going MIA (Missing In Action).
That military acronym is a good description for what has plagued the KC Royals this season. All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon, third baseman Mike Moustakas, and catcher Salvador Perez have all suffered injuries in the last two weeks. Moustakas is out for the season with a torn ACL in his knee. Alex Gordon has been sitting for two weeks in what the team hopes will be a one month absence due to a broken hand. Salvador Perez is back in action, but hasn’t yet resumed regular catching duties in order to ease him back into the grind.
Though their young replacements have performed even better than the KC Royals can have expected, the Royals offense still struggles to score runs. The rotation is worse than the front office hoped during the winter.
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Meanwhile, the strong bullpen and defense have been carrying the team. The Kansas City Royals are three games over .500 despite a -12 run differential. Sabermetric skeptics are beginning to claim that the KC Royals have come back down to earth and are playing closer to their true talent level (which PECOTA estimated at 76 wins this winter) rather than defying projections systems like they have the last three years.
I still say the Kansas City Royals can win the 2016 World Series.
Am I a Pollyanna fan just telling myself what I, and the rest of the KC Royals fanbase, wants to hear? I don’t think so. To me, their six game winning streak shows why.
When faced with bad news, this team kicked it to another level. When the Kansas City Royals heard the news that third baseman Mike Moustakas would miss the rest of the 2016 season, the offense woke from it’s slumber to go on a 10-game string with more the 10 hits per game. When catcher Salvador Perez appeared to suffer a season-ending knee injury when replacement third baseman Chelsor Cuthbert slammed into his leg, it spurred a historic seven-run rally to overcome an 7-1 ninth inning deficit.
In short, this is a team inspired by adversity.
The 2016 Kansas City Royals might not cruise into the 2015 playoffs with the best record in the American League or even with the AL Central title. But if they can grind out an invite to the playoff party they’re going to be dangerous.
This is a team filled with guys who produced a record seven multi-run comebacks in one post-season. This is a team that has erased two four-run deficits in elimination games, against the A’s in the 2014 Wild Card game and once against the Astros in the ALDS. They became the first team in baseball history to sweep their way to the World Series while winning eight straight games.
Put their backs to the wall and make them desperate, and the KC Royals kick their game into overdrive. The 2016 Kansas City Royals already have shown they can play championship baseball when pushed.
Forget that Fangraphs.com give the KC Royals a 1 in 200 chance of winning the World Series. There’s no reason they can’t again play championship baseball in October. They just need to get an invite to the party.