The Royals still have some things to play for.
Can the Royals still win the Central Division? Good sense would tell you it’s not worth checking the standings.
Could they somehow win a wildcard spot? Even less of a chance.
How about finishing .500? It would take a historic tear for that to happen.
So is there any number of wins worth rooting for? Any standard for the team to try to reach?
Well, while most critics bemoan the typical strong finish to an abysmal season, there are a couple of numbers worth watching.
(Now before you start accusing me of being part of the problem, accepting bad baseball, let me state that I hate losing, and I hate not being in a real pennant race. But there’s nothing I can do about it, and it’s fun to play with numbers, even when they’re losing numbers)
Here’s what the Royals still have to shoot for:
70-92: Since 1996, the Royals have only finished on the plus-side of 70 wins five times. Let’s hear it for small victories.
72-90: One win better than 2011. Not worth celebrating.
74-88: Good enough last year for 19th place of the 30 major league teams. Out of the bottom 10, into the middle third of the league.
75-87: The most wins by a Royals team since 2003 – matching the record of the 2008 team.
76-86: The Royals fell to 11 games under .500 on April 24 when a 12-game losing streak plunged them to 3-14. If the Royals can reach 76 wins, it will mean they’ve played better than .500 baseball since that dismal date. This is the number I’m most intrigued by.
3rd: The Royals haven’t finished third in the Central Division since 2003.
How about some individual standards to shoot for?
100: The number of RBIs Billy Butler will likely exceed. No Royal has reached this mark since Carlos Beltran did it in 2003.
54: Alex Gordon could reach this record – Hal McRae’s number of doubles, set in 1977.
13: If Bruce Chen could reach 13 wins, he would top his team-leading mark of 12 from both 2010 and 2011. He would tie his best-ever win total, which he notched with Baltimore in 2005. And he would finish above .500, barring he records no more losses. It will be tough, as Chen can only squeeze in a few more starts this season.
Ok, so these would all be very hollow victories, I admit. There are only a few numbers KC fans should care about – 1st in the division, 1st in the league, and 1st in the game.
But for the time being, some other numbers are worth pulling for.