Look: I am eager to learn stuff I don't know--which requires actively courting and posting smart disagreement.

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-- Brad Delong

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Thoughts on the Royals

I did a little Google questing this afternoon. 

MLB started the wild card in 1994.

Three years later, a wild card team won the World Series.

Here is the complete list of wild card world series winners.

Florida Marlins (1997)
Anaheim Angels (2002)
Florida Marlins (2003)
Boston Red Sox (2004)
St. Louis Cardinals (2011)

Five incidents in 20 years, so not at all rare.

This year the list will grow, since the Royals and the Giants were both wild card teams.

This has only happened one other time, in 2002, when the Giants and Angels met.  They were 95 and 99 game winners, respectively.  This year's contenders were both sub-90 game winners, so this outcome has to be considered a bit of a fluke.

I doubt that any team in any sport has ever fluked its way into a championship series like the Royals did this year.  They were down 7-3 to the A's in the 8th inning of the single wild card playoff game, scored three, tied it in the 9th, gave up a run in the top if the 12th, and scored 2 to win in the bottom, 9-8. Exciting - sure, but a bit too story-book for the real world, I'd say.

Then they swept (!) out the Angels - 98 game winners - with two extra inning wins and a 3rd game 8-3 blow out. 

Three extra-inning wins in a row says something about your bull pen, but even more about luck.  In the regular season the Royals scored 4.04 runs per game, 14th of 30 MLB teams.  In the post season, they've outscored everybody with 42 runs in 8 games, for a 5.25 average.

Alcides Escobar has hit 16 regular season home runs in 4 full years with the Royals.  He knocked one out for the first run scored in the Orioles series.  Mike Moustakas, whose offensive stats have declined in each of his 4 years with the Royals, has hit 4 HRs in the playoffs, in 32 plate appearances, 1 in every 8.  In the regular season he had 15 in 500 PAs, 1 in every 33+. 

As a team, the Royals have 8 HRs in 8 games, second only to the Cardinals, 15 in 9 games. But with only 95 HR's this season, the Royals were dead last in the majors.  The Cardinals, BTW, were next to last, with 105 in the regular season.  During the regular season, the Orioles hit 11 more than the entire state of Missouri, but only 6 in 7 post season games.

The Royals have a decent rotation, above average defense, and perhaps the best bull pen in MLB.  What they do not have is offense.  Up until these playoff games. 

There is no rational explanation for the Royals post season success.

One might suspect divine intervention.  But this is baseball, and I consider it far more likely that someone has made a pact with the devil.
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1 comment:

Janice Adcock said...

Been missing you over at Carpe Diem and thought I would check on you. And here you have a post about the Royals. While my husband is a die hard Cardinals fan being from MO he is rooting for the Royals. As the Cardinals of 2011, the Royals sort of lucked into the series this year. Glad to see you are still out there kicking around!