The Kansas City Royals have become the first MLB team this year to clinch a division title. It’s the first time since 1985 that they’ve won a title. The American League team surprised a lot of people last year when they went to the World Series, and this year they were just expected to dominate in the AL Central. They have the best record by far in the American League, and only a handful of National League teams have better records. This is surprising at a deeper level though, because the Royals don’t really have any superstars on their team. There are no great power hitters, no one with really high batting averages, and no dominate pitchers. So why are the Royals so good?
First off, Lorenzo Cain has been a daily fantasy baseball gem this year. He’s one of those players that quietly turned out great performances game after game. By the last couple months of the season, most everyone was on to him, but up until that point, he was someone you could draft for cheap and still have a strong roster around him. He’s been batting up over .300, but only barely. Currently, he’s at .307, but his value lies in the fact that he also has 16 homeruns and 98 runs. He’s definitely not the strongest power hitter, but he combines enough power with his consistency to provide a lot of fantasy points.
When it comes to pitching, Edinson Volquez has stolen the show. He has 13 wins and 140 strikeouts. Again, not great numbers, but they are leading the team. Volquez is a lot like Cain in that he doesn’t get a ton of attention, but is still consistent. Not a star, but definitely talented.
Neither of these players are why the Royals are so strong. The reason why they keep winning is because although they have two standouts, the rest of their teammates are very close behind them. Cain is batting .307, but Eric Hosmer is batting .304 and has Kendrys Morales right behind him at .291. Morales has 21 homers this year, but so does Mike Moustakas. Salvador Perez has 20. Volquez has 13 wins, but Yordano Ventura has 12 and Chris Young has 10. Volquez has 140 strikeouts, but Ventura has 139. The Royals have a perfect blend of just-off top tier talent that has propelled them to the top. When one player has an off night, there are several others that can step up and play just as well. It’s a great atmosphere for winning because they aren’t relying on a stud to step up to the plate and smash in a game winning homerun. There are many of people capable of this on the team, but there is a lot of small ball involved too.
The Royals stand a good chance of going to the World Series again this year, and it will most likely not be the San Francisco Giants that they face. The Giants have struggled this year and are a few games behind the Dodgers in their division. They are 10 games behind in the hunt for a Wild Card spot, too. There’s very little chance of them making the postseason, although it is still mathematically possible. The teams to watch from the NL will most likely come from the Central division where the St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates have been playing strong ball all year long. They have already clinched playoff spots of some sort and will likely be the teams to beat in the World Series, whichever ends up making the big event, that is.