The Royals CAN make the playoffs…but…Mellinger’s not wrong!

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Royals fans are up in arms over an article from Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star.  Should they be?

Sam Mellinger wrote an article on Monday giving his reasoning for why the Royals will not make the playoffs, basically boiling his arguments down to math and July.  The thing is, he’s not wrong.  The Royals begin their most important stretch of games this season Tuesday night in Miami.  There they will face the Marlins for three games, then they go to Boston for three, and they host the Yankees for three and Detroit for three.  That’s twelve games against teams with winning records.  It’s a really tough stretch.

The Royals, as far as Baseball Prospectus is concerned, has a 4.4% chance of making the postseason this year.  The odds are against them, to say the least.  However, these odds are about the same as the Royals chances of winning the 2014 Wild Card Game going into the bottom of the eighth against Oakland and are actually greater than the odds of winning going into the top of the eighth of Game 4 of the 2015 ALDS in Houston.  Therefore, this is nothing new for the Royals.  This is a team that has perfected the art of the comeback.

That being said, Mellinger isn’t wrong.  Yet, he may not be right, either.  Mellinger is using ninety wins to get into the Wild Card Game.  That’s a good, solid, number.  However, he may be overstating this number.  Here are the American League Wild Cards since 2012 (when the Wild Card Game was established) and where they stood heading into August 23rd.
 

Year

Team

August 23

Final Record

2012

Texas Rangers

72-51

93-69

 

Baltimore Orioles

68-58

93-69

2013

Cleveland Indians

69-58

92-70

 

Tampa Bay Rays

72-53

92-71

2014

Kansas City Royals

71-56

89-73

 

Oakland Athletics

75-52

88-74

2015

New York Yankees

68-54

87-75

 

Houston Astros

68-56

86-76

As you can see, you can have a great record on August 23rd and still not win ninety games.  Case in point, the 2014 Oakland A’s were twenty-three games above .500 on August 23, yet, they finish fourteen games over .500.  It’s not a foregone conclusion that the Wild Card winner will win ninety games this year.

Mellinger’s has a great second point though.  As you can see in the table above, no team earned a wild card berth without being at least ten games over .500 on August 23rd.  The Royals currently sit four games over.  If the Royals don’t make the playoffs, it’ll be because of the month of July.  A .500 record in July and they’re in the discussion for winning the Central Division.

If the Royals fail to make the postseason there is plenty more to play for.  First and foremost, the Royals haven’t had winning records in four straight years since 1975-1980, the only other time that feat has been accomplished in team history.  They also have players earning valuable playing time.  Players like Cheslor Cuthbert, Raul Mondesi, and Paulo Orlando plan to play some sort of role in the future of the Royals, whether it’s with this team or as part of a trade.  Danny Duffy currently is in the running for American League Cy Young.  Finally, the Royals are looking to build momentum going into next year, which appears to be the last year this group will be together.  They’re playing for each other.  In baseball, only one-third of the teams make the Postseason.  To be in contention this late in the season is a success.

Sam Mellinger makes some great points and he’s not wrong.  However, if there is anything we have learned about this team from the last two seasons is that they won’t quit and they’ve mastered the art of the comeback.  If I were a betting man, I would not bet against this team.

 

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Christopher Till

Author: Christopher Till

Christopher is a lifelong Royals fan who loves long walks on the beach, sunsets, and trips to #DongTown. He also loves writing about the Royals (pants optional). Ian Kennedy once ruined a perfect game Chris had going (though, to be fair, Chris' pitch came before the game with nobody in the batter's box). His favorite Royals' memory is sitting in Section 401 with his daughter when Salvador Perez laced a line drive past Josh Donaldson to win the 2014 American League Wild Card Game.

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