Kansas City Royals: Reasons they’re the Sports Story of the Year
The Kansas City Royals’ approach drives the “Moneyball” folks nuts. Instead of placing an emphasis on drawing walks and on-base percentage, the Royals place an emphasis on putting the ball in play and hitting early pitches. Royals batters put their bats on balls. Despite the 95 – 100mph heat being thrown by the Mets’ pitchers in game #4, the Royals only swung and missed 3 times. 3 times! The constant pressure applied to defenses by putting balls in play wore playoff opponents down as weak links were found in their defenses.
The Royals are a fun team to watch. Why? A big reason is that they play the game the right way. They field, they run, they steal bases, they bat aggressively, they make the right throws and they challenge defenses. But, there’s something more. They enjoy playing. They’re a fun lovin’ bunch, and it shows. C’mon, Royal’s catcher Salvador Perez wears Vicoria Secret perfume to smell good for the home plate umpires. Who does that?
Thanks to Lorenzo Cain’s stolen base in the Game 1, Taco Bell lovers nationwide enjoyed a free AM Breakfast Crunchwrap from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. on November 5. So, not only does this team perform on the field, they helped buy the country breakfast. Not bad.
The Royals play as a team. Up and down the line up, there’s no easy out. You could almost reverse the batting order and not notice that big of a difference. Sure, the Royals have some great players. But, when their careers are over, how many will be hall of famers? It’s hard to say now. But, many analysts suggest they might not have even one hall of famer on the roster. And, yet, they dominated play in 2015, and were a Madison Bumgarner away from winning it all in 2014. Teamwork means a lot, and the Royals have it.
The Kansas City Royals kept their cool when their lead off hitter was thrown at, narrowly missing his head, with the first pitch of game #3 to “send a message”. Instead of retaliating with bush league stuff, the Royals did it the right way by coming back again and again to dismantle the Mets. Superior play beats a bag of tricks any day of the week.
Kansas City Royalsfans have embraced the team. 78% of television sets in Kansas City were tuned into World Series game #1. The M*A*S*H finale didn’t score that high. Heck, even the KC Public Library got into the act by challenging opposing cities to stacked books contests. Think poetry slams, only with a pile of books. The Royals victory parade drew some 800,000, well-behaved Royal fans without a car burning in sight.
Mr. Clutch – Eric Hosmer. Let’s be honest: Hosmer didn’t bat for that high of percentage in the post season (only .190 in the 2015 World Series), and he made a costly error at first base in Game #1 of the World Series. But, Hosmer is a clutch hitter of the highest degree for the Kansas City Royals. RBI’s at critical junctures in games are his calling card. And, his risky, but successful decision to run for home in game 5 was the signature play of the Series. Hosmer appears to be the voice of the team. Check out The Players’ Tribune “No Fluke” article published the morning of the deciding game of the ALCS game with Toronto.
The Royals bullpen approach has revolutionized the game. Manager Ned Yost’s approach to pitching shortens starting pitchers’ roles to fewer innings, and relies on bringing in a series of relievers to finish the job. If a starting pitcher makes it 6 innings, the Royals will like send out a 7th inning reliever, an 8th inning reliever, and if they have the lead, their closer Wade Davis in the 9th. The Royals bull pen is very stingy with giving up runs. If an opponent doesn’t have a significant lead going into the 7th inning, the Royals are a pretty safe bet.
A coaching approach that instills confidence in players. Royals stars Gordon, Hosmer and Mousakas all had sub-par years with low batting averages. But, they didn’t have to look over their shoulders. The Royals coaches had their backs.
A family approach. Many of the Kansas City Royals’ players came up together through the farm system, rode buses together and forged long-lasting bonds thru minor league play. Hosmer, Moustakas and others are part of a core that grew up together like family. A strong Latin influence is reflected in the 2015 team. Perez, Ventura and Herrera have all taken their star turns.
You can’t go to bed early on this Royals’ team even when they’re behind in the late innings. The Kansas City Royals demonstrated time and time again why they’re the best baseball comeback team ever in post season play. This year alone, they came back in 8 post season games to win. If the World Series games were played to 7 innings instead of 9, the Royals would’ve lost to the Mets in 5 games. It seemed like every time it looked bleak, the Royals found a way to win. For those reasons and more, the Kansas City Royals are the Sports Feel Good Story of the Year!