You ever think that I might be a little crazy? Let me take you on a journey inside my head. This is a debate…with myself. Can and will the Royals make the playoffs? That depends on which me you ask.
Just to give you a glimpse of what goes on in my head, I transcribed a conversation I had with myself just yesterday. This is between Fan Lesky and Analyst Lesky.
Fan Lesky: Why can’t the Royals make the playoffs?
Analyst Lesky: How can they?
FL: I asked first.
AL: I asked better.
FL: You’re annoying. From 2013-2015, the Royals won 270 regular season games, 22 postseason games, two American League pennants and one World Series title. The idea that this team is out of the race when they’re within a handful of games of a playoff spot and playing this well is absolutely silly. They’ve come back from longer odds during games in the most pressure-packed times of the postseason. There’s absolutely no reason why they can’t come back from this.
AL: Ahh okay, so coming back in a game where they had to beat one team and score a few runs in a short amount of time is surely a predictor of being able to play better than about 63 teams the rest of the way? That’s dumb. Yes, this team has come back so many times that I think we’ve become almost desensitized to it. And, sure, they were 48-50 in 2014 before they stormed to the first Wild Card spot and hosted that game against the A’s. So yeah, they have the pedigree, but at the same time, what happened the last three years doesn’t matter all that much for what’s happening now. And what’s happening now is this team has needed an unreal stretch of baseball just to get back to within sniffing distance of the postseason race. You want to compare this to the 2014 run, but I see 2013.
FL: First off, no, it’s not that they won the playoff games that makes me believe they can do it. It’s just an example of their tenacity. 2013 was kind of frustrating, and there are a lot of the same elements. I’ll give you that. There’s the one terrible month. There’s the fact that the offense is, well, less than good. Sure I could see this team falling a few games short, but the difference to me is that the 2013 club didn’t have any experience with the postseason or even a playoff race. Now, though, they’ve got as much experience as anyone. This is a team literally of champions. Of the current 25-man roster, 16 were on the roster for the World Series last year. Experience in these situations means something. Now, they’re THE ROYALS. Back then, they were the royals. Big difference.
AL: Yes, there’s more to it than stats. It’s hard to say how a team like the Mariners responds to the pressure of a race or how the Tigers respond to a non-division race or whatever. But still, they’re four games back with 37 to play. And that’s just in the Wild Card race. They have to pass whoever is sitting in the second Wild Card spot. They have to pass Seattle. They have to pass Detroit. They have to stay ahead of Houston and New York. That’s a lot of passing and holding fort. They have to do this in less than a quarter of a season. Man, I don’t see it.
FL: But look at their schedule. Once they get past this stretch against the Marlins and Red Sox, they get the Yankees (who are playing better than I thought they would) and the Tigers at home and then they get 14 against some bad teams. Let’s say they get through the road trip at 3-3. Then they go 15-5 in those 20 games after it. That puts them at 82-68. At worst, they’d probably be a game or two out of the Wild Card with that record and might even get close enough to the division. I’m not sitting here saying that they will make the playoffs, but to discount them when they have that kind of stretch in them is silly.
AL: I don’t think they don’t have the potential to be a good team. I simply think it’s too late. I mean, I love what Duffy, Kennedy and Ventura are doing and I think the offense has a run in them too. Well, I guess I hope they have more than a run in them. Get it? It’s baseball humor. Oy. Tough audience. But yeah, it’s the timing of it. There’s 37 games left. And they’d need to go on a crazy run to get enough wins to get it done. But what’s more is that it’s not just a crazy run they have to go on, but it’s that they have to go on a crazy run after another crazy run. Let’s say they have to win 90 games. They need to go 25-12 the rest of the way to get that done. They’ve already gone 14-2! That’s a 39-14 run. Last year’s team never did that. The 1985 team went 37-16 at one point. They’ve had runs of 39-14 or better in two seasons – 1977 and 1980, two of the four best Royals teams ever. Man, in 1977, they had a 43-10 run. Wow.
FL: So it has happened. That means there’s precedent. And what if they just have to get to 88 wins? What then? That’s “only” 37-16. I don’t think it’s a slam dunk or anything, but I think it’s more than possible. I know what the odds say, but don’t ever tell me the odds or something. I’m just saying that this team, while maybe not special like last year’s team, has elements of special in it. And if this starting pitching is for real, they could make a real run at this thing and they’re close enough that I think there’s a decent enough chance that it happens.
AL: But I still come back to the fact that they’ve needed this run just to get back to relevance. If they had made this run and it put them up in the Wild Card or only two back in the division or something, then I’d be singing a different tune, but it brought them simply to 2016 playoff relevance. And now they have to keep it up! Man, I just don’t know. It’s hard to see it.
FL: But how about if they can keep it for 12 more games and get to September? Then they can add some versatility and speed and even more pitching to help round out the bullpen. You have to think the Royals are built well for September callups. Won’t it be nice to have Merrifield back and Gore available to pinch run and even Fuentes for some key pinch hitting? Oh, and have we even talked about Wade Davis coming back? I don’t think so.
AL: Personally for me, I think if they’re two or three back of the Wild Card and with only a couple teams to jump by the time September 1 hits, I’ll believe it’s really possible. Anything more than that, and I’ll still think they have too much work to do. But if they get there, then we can really talk about something.
FL: Well at least you’re considering that a possibility. By the way, have I mentioned how handsome you are?
AL: Hey, thanks! Right back at ya.
FL: I think we can both agree that it’d be pretty cool if they got to the playoffs again, right?
AL: Does a bear fly kites in the woods?
FL: I…I don’t know. I don’t think so?
AL: Oh. Then my answer is yes. It’s just a yes. Ignore the bear thing.
FL (to self): Wack-job.