Leftridge: Oh, Hey– The Royals Are in First Place

Royals-CelebrateJust 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

Anyway, mind=blown.

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.

Seventy-three percent.

Seven. Three.

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.

Jason VargasJames 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.

Norichika+Aoki+Kansas+City+Royals+Photo+Day+nYqig1H3Ad5lAnd because, why in the hell not, everyone’s favorite Hyuga City punching bag Norichika Aoki is batting .400 with three SBs and four (?!) RBI in the past seven days.

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.)


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4 Responses to Leftridge: Oh, Hey– The Royals Are in First Place

  1. Mysterious J says:

    I am not impressed with your writing about the Royals generally, but MAJOR kudos for owning how wrong you were about Vargas. The next prominent Royals blogger who does likewise will be the first.

  2. rkcal says:

    They are starting to show the one key ingredient that has always been missing: consistency. So what I’m saying is we have a chance.

  3. Kerouac says:

    “According to ESPN, they now have a 73.8% chance of making the playoffs.”

    – according to Kerouac, if ESPN could actually count, then their big ratings drop 2013 and a continuing free-fall 2014 would convince them to work on their own future first. They have a better chance of becoming totally irrelevant before the Royals do, nod ‘el foldo’ as another famous seer Carnac the Magnificent used to say.

    Speaking of a ‘Phold’, the 1964 Philadelphia Phillies led the NL from day one that year, and had a 6 1/2 game lead with just 12 games left to play. They were 100% certain to make post season… they preceded to lose 10 games in a row and failed to qualify. Like the Royals, the Phillies had failed to win a ‘World Series’ in like, forever – as in never – unlike KC’s last foray some 30 years previous.

    Upshot: just under 40 games still to play, too many games left, too many bad things possible, too much bad history this ‘Show Me’ stater to embrace ‘you gotta believe’, least just yet.

    This is Killjoy Kerouac signing off for tonight…


  4. Libertarian says:

    Who are those guys, and where’d they get those Royals uniforms?

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