If this weekend’s series taught us anything, it’s that the Kansas City Royals need to change their focus. Winning the Central Division would be great, but it’s not likely to happen. The team and its fans need to accept that.
Dear, Kansas City Royals fans,
Don’t be fooled by Sunday’s win over Cleveland. Only one of the teams on the field at Kauffman Stadium this weekend has a realistic chance to win the Central Division title. The Kansas City Royals are not that team.
Let me be clear. The Kansas City Royals have a great opportunity to make the postseason. It’s just more likely that they take the 2014 path than the 2015 one, if you catch my drift.
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Division titles are great. The franchise could always use more trophies, and the added bonus of not having to play a winner-take-all game that already burns your top pitcher is appealing. It’s just not realistic to expect the Kansas City Royals to overcome Cleveland and an absolutely scorching-hot Minnesota to win the division title.
It would obviously be in the best interest of the team to chase the division crown in two scenarios.
- A division championship is the only way to get into the playoffs. (This scenario is currently playing out in the National League Central Division.)
- Two teams records are so good that the loser of the division race will easily land a Wild Card spot. (Basically what’s playing out between Boston and New York right now.)
Neither of those situations apply to the Kansas City Royals.
As of this writing, the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins are tied for the second (and final) Wild Card slot in the American League. The Boys in Blue are one of six teams within five games of the Angels and Twins, so one could argue it’s an eight-team race at this point.
That deserves the team’s full attention.
I know some of you are thinking this doesn’t matter. The team just tries to win every game and doesn’t care what happens elsewhere. Not true.
Eric Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain scoreboard watch and track the standings just as much as you or I do. They know what’s riding on each and every game. They knew when they took the field Sunday afternoon how far they were behind Cleveland in the division and Minnesota in the Wild Card.
I guarantee it.
They should also know the likelihood of them making up 6.5 games on Cleveland is a lot less likely than overcoming the 1.5-game deficit in the Wild Card standings.
If the Kansas City Royals can get on a run, slide into a Wild Card position and build a nice cushion over their competition, then we can talk about challenging for a division title. Until that happens, they need to just worry about making the playoffs, and the Wild Card is their clearest path.