The Kansas City Royals Are Back in the National League Playoffs
For the first time in over a decade, the Kansas City Royals are back in the National League playoffs. And this season, the team hopes to go all the way to the World Series. But first, the team must make it past the wildcard.
When the 2003 Kansas City Royals season began, fans were excited for a team that was expected to be a turnaround after almost a decade of mediocrity. After losing 97 games in 2001, the Royals hoped to build on the momentum that they had during the previous season.
But despite the high hopes, the Royals had an uneven season. They were plagued by three blowout losses at home and suffered a franchise record 19-game losing streak.
The Royals also benefited from a young and promising staff of starting pitchers. Darrell May had a solid season with a 3.77 ERA. Also, Jeremy Affleldt was one of the most reliable relievers in the game.
However, the Royals didn’t generate much power. In fact, they ranked in the bottom five in several categories including wOBA and Hard Hit%.
The 2006 Kansas City Royals won 62 games, good for fifth place in the American League Central. However, it was the worst team in the league at least in terms of run production. Their pitching staff was the worst in the majors, and their defense was mediocre at best.
The Royals had the best record in the American League during the month of June, but they stumbled into losing territory by the All-Star break. They finished with a run differential of -214.
The Royals were in rebuilding mode by late June. Several key players were on the trade block. For example, the Royals traded Carlos Beltran and Jason Grimsley for prospects. It appears the front office has no answers in their starting rotation.
In the end, they went 63-99, but they still missed the playoffs for the 21st consecutive season. They also set a franchise record with their 19-game losing streak.
The Kansas City Royals finished the 2013 season with an 86-75 record. This was the team’s first winning season since 2003, and it set a franchise record for wins.
The Royals had an improved start to the season, winning seven of the first eight games. Their record through April was 14-10, and they led the American League Central Division. However, a nine-game losing streak brought them down to 54-51 on August 22, putting them in fifth place.
By June, the Royals had regressed to mean. In July and August, they won five of six, and finished with an 81-73 record.
The Royals made a trade, trading superstar center fielder Carlos Beltran to the Chicago Cubs for veteran reliever Jason Grimsley. During the trade, the Royals also acquired pitcher Wade Davis and a minor league outfielder.
The Kansas City Royals won their first American League pennant in over two decades. They also won their first World Series since 1985. In the process, they became the first team in the modern era to come back and win a title after losing a series.
The Royals started the season 15-7, the best in the majors. They were in first place for 53 straight days in June.
The second half of the season was much tougher. A pair of key veterans, James Shields and Billy Butler, were traded. Despite this, the Royals went on to finish with the best record in the AL, 95-67. However, the team was in rebuilding mode.
The roster was stocked with promising young talent. There were eight players on the ballot for the All-Star Game, including Mike Moustakas, Bobby Witt Jr., and Kendrys Morales.
The Kansas City Royals won their first American League pennant in nearly 30 years in 2014. They also advanced to the World Series in 2015 and beat the New York Mets. However, they have not had a winning season in almost two years. This has left the front office with a difficult decision: should they keep the team the way it is or make some improvements?
A new cable television contract should help boost income. It should also mean that the Royals can spend more on their players in the coming offseason. But with a young roster and aging core, there are some questions about their future.
The bullpen remains one of the team’s most formidable strengths. Even though it was hardly an unhittable unit in 2015, it posted the league’s lowest ERA in two of the previous three seasons.