The Kansas City Royals find themselves sitting 4.5 games out of the second wildcard sport in the American League. They will have to leapfrog Cleveland, Baltimore and Texas if they hope to secure that playoff spot for themsleves. At this point, are the Royals a contender for the spot or a pretender that should start thinking about the future?
Their Recent Play Suggests That They Are A Contender
Kansas City has gone 13-2 in their last 15 games after defeating Minnesota Wednesday night. That is among the best records in baseball during that time. Only Detroit and Atlanta have played nearly as well during that same stretch. During their recent run of good baseball, they won nine games in a row for the first time since 1994.
The Teams In Front Of Them Suggest That They Are A Pretender
Unfortunately, the Royals are battling some of the hottest teams in baseball at the moment. The Tigers have won 11 in a row as of Wednesday night and Cleveland won 11 of 12 games before losing three straight to Detroit. In other words, the teams that they are chasing are only losing to each other. That doesn’t bode well when your team is chasing a division rival for both a division title and a wildcard berth.
They Rely Too Much On Their Defense
The Royals are one of the best defensive teams in the league. They have given up the fewest runs in the American League with a team ERA of 3.97, which is good for sixth in the league. Unfortunately, they don’t fare too well on offense. Kansas City has scored the fourth-fewest runs in the American League with 442. Their best hitter is batting .297 and Billy Butler has once again been their most productive player on offense. That is not going to scare a lot of opposing pitchers.
September Will Be Pivotal
September will decide if the Royals are going to be in the playoffs or not. Kansas City has six games against the Tigers, six games against the Indians and three games against Texas that could be crucial in the wildcard standings. If the Royals are still lurking within five or six games when September starts, there could be enough time to steal a division title assuming Kansas City gets the breaks to go their way.
Kansas City has been one of the more surprising teams in baseball this year. No one really expected them to do much despite bolstering their pitching staff with established veteran arms. When they slowly fell down the standings in May, June and July, it seemed like they were done. However, they have pulled themselves up and have the look of a contender if they can get into the playoffs.