Let this soak in for a minute…the Kansas City Royals are the American League Champions.
They will host the first two games of the World Series next week and have provided their fans with three weeks of excitement. We remember that feeling from 2007.
During the regular season, the Royals won exactly four more games than the Indians (89 vs. 85) and based on run differential, the Royals should have won 84 games as opposed to the Tribe’s 83. As you can see there isn’t much difference between the two clubs.
Kansas City GM Drayton Moore went all in to make the post-season, perhaps because the Royals last trip to the playoffs came in 1985. He traded for right-handed hitter Josh Willingham, relief pitcher Jason Frasor, and veteran left-handed bat Raul Ibanez.
As we have well documented, the Indians traded Justin Masterson and Asdrubal Cabrera, and brought in OF J.B. Shuck and utility man Chris Gimenez.
The point isn’t the contributions made by the players who joined Kansas City in the last two months of the season, it’s that they made a commitment to the rest of the players on the roster.
We remember in 1995 when then GM John Hart traded for Ken Hill at the trade deadline even though the Indians were way ahead in the AL Central Division standings. They didn’t need to add a pitcher, but Hart wanted to send the message to everyone on that team that the organization was it in to win a World Series.
And think about it, what message did GM Chris Antonetti send to this year’s team when he didn’t help them out on July 31st?
Kansas City’s success this year is a reminder that baseball is the one sport where getting into the playoffs gives you a chance to be the World Series Champions. The percentages of the eighth seed in the NBA playoffs advancing past the first round are very slim, they are usually dominated by the best team in each conference.
In the NFL, although it was happened that a team gets on a roll, in most years, the last team to make the post-season, the sixth seed in each conference, has a lot of disadvantages. They have to play all of their games on the road, and they have to play three games instead of two for the top seeds.
But in baseball, if you can get in, you have a shot. It comes down to pitching, hitters getting hot at the right time, and solid bullpens. That’s why the San Francisco Giants, on the verge of advancing to their third World Series in five years, have missed the playoffs twice in the same span.
They have a team perfectly set up for the playoffs, but sometimes they don’t hit enough to qualify for the post-season over a 162 game slate.
This year, if the Giants and Royals play in the Fall Classic, we will be assured that a great team will not win the Series. That isn’t belittling either squad, but it is simply a fact, and it goes to show how important it can be to just make the playoffs.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear the Cleveland Indians didn’t go the extra mile to get in even though they were right on the doorstep.
The front office has to look at the Royals and think “that could be us”.