Not a good chance, but a chance nonetheless.
The Royals dug themselves a hole earlier this year, pondered climbing out, but then decided to dig some more. Recently, they have gone back to climbing and done so with enough consistency to make some of us dreamers do some more dreaming. Kansas City is not close enough to contention that you can look at the standings head-on and see it. One has to squint just right to see the possibilities. I’m old. I squint frequently.
Prior to Wednesday’s game, the Royals were 10 games out of first in the Central Division and seven and one-half games out of the Wild Card with five teams between them and the post-season. With 43 games left, it is a journey from here to there. As I type this, the Blue Jays are thumping the Yankees and the Cardinals are threatening to score against Houston. That is all relevant information as we begin this foray into wonderland.
Let’s start by looking at the Royals’ remaining games and what they might be able to accomplish all on their own. I went through the schedule first by just looking at who they played and what I thought was possible and then, as you will see later, went through all the contenders’ and pretenders’ schedules to assign wins and losses for all in one massive prediction of what might happen in the American League the rest of 2016. No matter the method (and they certainly were not completely independent of one another), I have the Royals going an optimistic 27-16 the rest of the way.
Kansas City can hit that mark, which gives them 86 wins for the year, by going 17-7 at home and 10-9 on the road. The home record is simply winning every series, sweeping none. An alternative method is the Royals take 6 of 7 at home against Minnesota (one sweep) and lose two of three to Cleveland at home, but that’s the same record in the end. The road record comes via the Royals losing two of three against Boston and Cleveland while winning two of three at Minnesota, Chicago and Miami. With four games at Detroit (counting Wednesday) still on the schedule, it assumes two wins and two losses there.
Eighty-six wins does not seem like enough and, logically, it probably is not.
Based on their current records, if every team with winning record played exactly .500 baseball the rest of the way with the exception of the 27-16 Royals, they would still end up two games out of the wild card. Boston and Baltimore would cruise in with 88 wins each, a game behind the division winning Blue Jays. Cleveland would end up with 91 wins and Texas would take the West with 92 victories. That is just a baseline look and, besides something that will not happen, does not interrelate the individual team schedules.
As a warning, what follows is simply one man’s shoot from the hip idea of how the season will play out. Analytics? Nope, too lazy. Unbiased? I did my best to not make the proof equal the result I wanted, but I was also starting from the stand point of what could be possible for my favorite team, so take it all for whatever value you wish.
On the first run, I had the Royals getting their 27 wins as referenced above. The rest of teams finished as follows:
- Home: 3-1 v NY, 2-1 v BAL, 2-1 v BOS, 3-1 v TB
- Road: 2-2 v NY, 1-2 v CLE, 1-2 v BAL, 2-1 v BOS, 1-2 v SEA, 3-1 v LAA
- Home: 2-1 v NY, 3-2 v BOS, 2-2 v TB, 2-1 v TOR, 2-2 v HOU
- Road: 3-3 v NY, 1-2 v DET, 1-2 v BOS, 1-2 v TB, 1-2 v TOR, 2-1 v SD
- Home: 2-2 v NY, 2-1 v BAL, 2-1 v TB, 1-2 v TOR, 2-1 v KC
- Road: 1-2 v NY, 2-1 v OAK, 2-2 v DET, 2-3 v BAL, 1-2 v TB, 1-2 v TOR
- NEW YORK
- Home: 3-3 v BAL, 2-1 v BOS, 2-2 v TB, 2-2 v TOR, 0-3 v LAD
- Road: 1-2 v BAL, 2-2 v BOS, 1-2 v TB, 1-3 v TOR, 1-2 v KC, 1-2 v SEA, 1-2 v LAA
- Home: 2-1 v MIN, 3-2 v CHI, 2-1 v DET, 2-1 v MIA, 2-2 v HOU, 2-1 v KC
- Road: 2-1 v MIN, 1-2 v OAK, 2-2 v CHI, 2-2 v DET, 2-1 v KC, 1-3 v TEX
- Home: 2-2 v MIN, 1-2 v CHI, 2-2 v CLE, 2-1 v BAL, 2-2 v BOS, 2-1 v LAA, 2-2 v KC
- Road: 3-3 v MIN, 1-2 v CHI, 1-2 v CLE, 1-2 v KC, 2-1 v ATL
- Home: 3-1 v OAK, 3-1 v CLE, 2-1 v TB, 2-1 v SEA, 2-1 v HOU, 2-1 v LAA, 3-0 v MIL
- Road: 2-1 v OAK, 2-1 v TB, 3-1 v SEA, 2-1 v HOU, 1-1 v CIN
- Home: 2-1 v NY, 2-2 v OAK, 2-1 v TOR, 2-1 v LAA, 2-1 v HOU, 1-2 v TEX
- Road: 1-2 v OAK, 1-2 v MIN, 2-2 v CHI, 2-3 v LAA, 1-2 v HOU, 1-2 v TEX
- Home: 2-1 v OAK, 2-1 v TB, 2-1 v SEA, 3-1 v LAA, 1-2 v TEX, 1-2 v CHC, 0-1 v STL
- Road: 1-2 v OAK, 2-2 v CLE, 2-2 v BAL, 1-2 v SEA, 1-2 v LAA, 1-2 v TEX, 1-2 v PIT
Where does that leave our Kansas City Royals?
Well, Texas runs away and hides with 98 wins while Cleveland cruised to the Central title with 93 victories. The East goes to Toronto with an 88-74 mark and quite honestly (no matter how it tastes) hoping the Blue Jays win more than that only helps the Royals.
Your wild cards? How about Baltimore and Kansas City with 86 wins each? Under the above scenario, Boston would just miss with 85 victories, followed by Detroit (84), Seattle (84), Houston (81) and the faltering Yankees (78).
Of course, the entire above exercise was started with the ‘get Kansas City into the playoffs’ mentality. As such, I worked with some preconceived notions that my best case scenario needed at least two teams to finish strong. As such, I have Texas going 27-14 and Cleveland 25-20 down the stretch. If Toronto wanted to surpass 88 wins by piling on against Baltimore, Boston and Seattle that would not hurt anything, either.
Is the above possible? Well, it is not impossible. Probable? I would say the odds are stacked against the Royals.
Still, after winning eight of their last ten, I am telling you that they do indeed have a chance.