Just last week I wrote a rambling, stat-filled post about the Kansas City Royals’ chances of making the postseason for the first time since Rutherford B. Hayes was the president of these United States.
At that time, they were still behind the Detroit Tigers for the AL Central lead, and barely edging out three other teams for the second Wild Card spot.
Good LORD a lot can happen in a week.
To wit: I got a haircut. Summer vacation ended much to the chagrin of schoolchildren and educators alike. The Chiefs played a meaningless preseason contest. Pumpkin beer returned to shelves, and even if it makes me a lady, I love some pumpkin beer. My first child was born. And perhaps most importantly*, KC took the division lead for the first time in a fortnight.
*Look, I can have 19 kids if I want; the Royals making the playoffs has become a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence
They swept the San Francisco Giants. They took three out of four from the Oakland A’s, who boast the best record in baseball. And on Friday, they beat the Twins in Minnesota. They are now 12-2 in the month of August, and it’s like, holy shit, who ARE these guys? According to ESPN, they now have a 73.8% chance of making the playoffs.
So how’d they get here?
Well, pitching, for starters. The bullpen has been indefatigable all season long, and the starters have been really pretty decent, too. Over the past week, though, the front five have become increasingly otherworldly.
James Shields tossed a complete game shutout on August 9th. Jason Vargas—who has been a revelation this season, and boy does this crow taste fucking awesome—did the same on the 13th against the A’s. (In fact, he’s given up two earned runs in 14 innings of work since having his appendix removed.) On August 11th, Yordano Ventura went six innings, allowing two runs in the process. Danny Duffy has been amazing.
But the pitching, well, we KNEW the pitching would be okay. It’s the offense that’s really started to click.
Alex Gordon—who I love, but is streakier than the glass-door entrance to a daycare—is hitting .391 with two homeruns in the past week.
Jarrod Dyson—who has seen a bit of increased playing time—is 8-15 over that stretch and has five stolen bases because he’s Jarrod Dyson, and goddammit is he fast.
Even Big Bill Butler has started to turn the corner, perhaps a result of his daily work at first base. (Where, I might add, he has done an absolutely sufficient job.)
When things are going well, they seem to go REALLY well, and it’s a blast to watch.
Look. I know it’s still early. I still don’t feel comfortable assuming that the Royals will hold this division lead and cruise to their first playoff appearance since The Cosby Show was teaching us all life-lessons on a weekly basis. These are the Kansas City Royals, and they are frustrating and gut-wrenchingly tragic and I’ve had my heart broken too many times to think things will turn out okay.
But as of today, they’re in first. And they’re playing really fun baseball. And for now, at least, that’s enough.
(Oh, but I’ll also be really super-pissed if they don’t make the playoffs now; I just won’t be surprised. At all. Because Royals.)
Follow me on Twitter @StanfordWhistle