After the All-Star break, the Kansas City Royals have been one of the hottest, if not the hottest team in all of the MLB. Their record since the ASG is 24-10. Four of their losses came immediately after the break, essentially giving them a 24-6 record since July 22nd. There are a few reasons why there is a good chance that they will remain in first place and continue their second half heroics in the 2014 season.
Their record away from the K has been tremendous. The Royals are 39-28 at other ballparks, which ties them for the second best road record in baseball this season (1- Dodgers, T – Baltimore). If the Royals do make the postseason for the first time since 1985, it could be in their favor if a wild card or division series elimination game is at their opponents’ ballpark.
Their remaining schedule is highly favorable for Kansas City. With just a little over a month left of the regular season, they have 17 games against opponents with a losing record. They do play two series against the Indians and Tigers, as well as one against the Yankees, who are all fighting for a wild card spot at the present moment. They also close out the year on a seven game road trip in Cleveland and finishing up with the White Sox. One of those teams may not have anything to play for by the end of the year, which is why September playoff races are the best.
They have nothing to lose. The Royals have become “Americas’ team” in the last few weeks and are on pace to make it to the postseason. A similar story occurred last season with the Pirates making the playoffs for the first time since 1992. Obviously the fairy tale ending would be making the playoffs and winning at least a series, but that will be determined in just a month.
Lastly, the Royals are one of the older teams in the playoff race. Only the Yankees and Giants have an older age average. Usually this means that players would be worn out and start to fizzle towards the end of the year; when in reality the Royals have done the complete opposite. About six-seven years ago, the Royals were a team that was being built to win in a couple of years. That couple of years turned out to be longer than everyone expected, but the time is finally here. Players like Gordon, Escobar and Perez have been propelling KC all year. Butler, who is coming off another injury, looks like he is ready to get hot and start hitting at any moment. Their pitching staff has really stepped up behind James Shields, and Ned Yost is on his way to winning AL Manager of the Year.
The final month of the season will make or break teams. The long, grueling season is finally starting to wind down. Teams who have no shot at a playoff race will fully utilize their September call-ups, while playoff teams will use them sparingly and only in dire moments. It is the most exciting time of year, and it all leads to the fall classic.