A lot of online betting fans thought that the Kansas City Royals might fall back down to mediocrity after taking the San Francisco Giants to Game 7 in the World Series last year. After all, their ace pitcher, James Shields, took off for San Diego in free agency, and the metrics last year didn’t really support the Royals playing as well as they did. However, even though they are still defying the metrics, the Royals ran away with the American League Central division, despite a late run by the Minnesota Twins, and now they await the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series.
AL Playoff Online Betting Team Preview: Kansas City Royals
— Royals (@Royals) October 7, 2015
Thirty years ago, the Royals won their last division title, in the old American League West. That year, they also won the World Series. Could they do it again?
One of the Royals’ greatest strengths is the fact that they just don’t strike out. Their team rate is 15.7%, the lowest in MLB this year. The next lowest rate is 18.0% (Oakland). The league average is 20.3%. Also, the Royals have the American League’s best batting average, at .272. They stole 99 bases this year, second only to the Astros (112). They don’t hit many home runs, just 132 over the season (good for 23rd in MLB), but they still score a lot of runs, coming in fifth in MLB, averaging 4.53 runs. Their defense leads the American League in DRS (defensive runs saved). They rank third in defensive efficiency ratio, at .703.
However, their biggest flaw is their starting rotation. They did bring in Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto at the trade deadline, but he simply has not pitched like they would like. He did get one win down the stretch, but mostly he struggled in his first run through the junior circuit. Yordano Ventura has become very inconsistent, and Edinson Volquez, who was supposed to be the team’s answer to losing Shields, posted an ugly 6.43 ERA in his four September starts.
When the series start to lengthen in the playoffs, the Royals don’t really have anyone strong to put into that fourth starting role. The choices are Danny Duffy, Kris Medlen, Chris Young and Jeremy Guthrie. All of them can eat innings during the regular season, but it’s hard to see them pitching with any authority with the postseason on the line. So if the Royals can’t sweep their opponents away like they did last year, when they didn’t lose a single playoff game until the World Series, they are going to face some real problems.
Houston brings some interesting challenges to the series. Their offense is potent, and the young players on their team are confident – too young to know that they’re not supposed to win. Houston is contending a year ahead of schedule, and even though the Astros saw their division lead evaporate in the last weeks of the regular season, their 3-0 wild card win over the Yankees shows that they have confidence and resilience. This will definitely be a series to remember.