Before I receive my usual unsigned letter from the same person who’s always telling me I’m an idiot when it comes to picking the Major League baseball races, I’m big enough to say I was wrong and I apologize to the Kansas City Royals.
At least two or three years I have received a lengthy unsigned letter pointing out how many picks I get wrong. You have to remember, baseball picks are so subjective. You never know when a team — in last year’s case Texas – is going to be decimated by injuries that greatly affects its season. You don’t know what teams are going to come out of nowhere — like the Houston Astros or Chicago Cubs.
So if this person wants to waste their time and send me another unsigned letter telling me how foolish I was not to pick the Royals to win the American League Central, knock yourself out. Or get a life.
Remember, the Royals made the playoffs last year with a charge that earned them a wild-card spot and the result was the historic game with Oakland. They jumped on that wave of momentum and rode it all the way to Game 7 of the World Series.
My contention was the Royals caught lightning in a bottle. I went out on a limb and picked them to finish fourth behind four-time champion Detroit, what I thought would be an improved Chicago team and everybody’s trendy pick, Cleveland.
Of course Detroit’s pitching was obliterated by injuries and it waved the white flag early by dealing David Price at the trade deadline. Chicago’s offense tanked and Cleveland has only played like I expected it to the last six weeks.
I thought Kansas City would struggle with starting pitching and its lineup was spotty. But there have been several factors leading to it storming to the division title.
1. Kendrys Morales. Do you ever hear Royals fans mention Billy Butler’s name anymore? Maybe the best free-agent signing in baseball.
2. Lorenzo Cain. He’s had a breakout season and is starting to realize just how gifted he is.
3. Mike Moustakas. I called for the Royals to cut ties with him after last season and head in another direction. The guy always looked so lost at the plate, but give him credit. He’s put in the work to become a good player, though I think he won’t approach these numbers ever again.
4. The bullpen. Not quite the lockdown unit of last year, but still among the best in baseball. Losing Greg Holland, though, is a blow.
5. Ned Yost. I never thought I’d say that, but he never gets too high or too low. You never hear of problems in the KC clubhouse.
There are other factors, of course. They’ve hit more homers and their pitching as a whole is deeper, when you add in Edinson Volquez, Chris Young, Ryan Madson, Franklin Morales, Kris Medlen and Johnny Cueto. Cueto may finally be getting things ironed out after adjusting catcher Salvador Perez’s setup.
How will the Royals do in the postseason? It’s all about matchups and if they hold on for the best record, my guess is they’ll open with the New York Yankees, which would be a bad matchup. I’d rather see them against the Houston Astros. My fear is they could get the Minnesota Twins, who have been playing much better than the Royals this month.
The Royals need to use this final week to get their heads straight. They made a lot of mental mistakes this month, especially on the bases. Hopefully they can flip the switch back to the first five months when they were the best team in the American League.
Again, I’m sorry Royals. You proved me wrong.