Aug 16, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar (2) jumps over Minnesota Twins right fielder Oswaldo Arcia (31) after making a force out at second and attempts to throw the ball to first base for a double play in the second inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Playoff Race: KC Royals spend One Week in First

We have been posting game recaps in the 9:30 slot. But, with the Kansas City Royals in a playoff race, we have decided to keep fans abreast of the Royals’ playoff chances and news about KC’s competitors.

This is a new section—since Kansas City hasn’t sniffed post-season contention in 11 years, unless you count last season’s residence on the fringes of the race. Our content here will be evolving as I adjust to the new format.

Hope you enjoy!

The KC Royals took over first place on Monday, August 11 for the first time this late in the season since 2003. Not only did the Royals hang onto first, they added a much needed power bat by trading for Josh Willingham with the Twins, and KC extended their precarious .5 game lead to 1.5 games.

Talk about a good week! Best one for a KC fan in 29 years.

AL CENTRAL

Rk Tm W L W-L% GB Strk R RA Home Road 1Run vRHP vLHP ≥.500 <.500 last10 last30
1 KCR 68 55 .553 W 1 4.1 3.9 33-28 35-27 17-21 49-38 19-17 38-35 30-20 8-2 21-9
2 DET 66 56 .541 1.5 L 1 4.6 4.3 33-29 33-27 19-17 41-38 25-18 36-33 30-23 4-6 13-17
3 CLE 62 61 .504 6.0 L 1 4.3 4.2 37-24 25-37 18-17 46-41 16-20 31-38 31-23 5-5 16-14
4 CHW 59 65 .476 9.5 W 1 4.3 4.7 31-29 28-36 21-18 42-49 17-16 36-38 23-27 4-6 15-15
5 MIN 55 67 .451 12.5 L 1 4.2 4.6 26-32 29-35 17-19 37-45 18-22 33-43 22-24 4-6 13-17
Avg 62 60 .505 4.3 4.3 32-28 30-32 18-18 43-42 19-18 34-37 27-23 5-5 15-14

Holy crap. The Royals have gained 8 games on the Tigers in the last 30. One of the more interesting things that this table shows us is that KC is 10 games over .500 against winning teams, and only 3 games over .500 against losing teams.

Kansas City is also better against righties than lefties, and the team still lags in 1-run games at 4 games under .500.

Notice that Cleveland is still hanging onto the fringe of the race. While 6 games out seems like a lot, look at what KC has done in the last month. Remember also that Cleveland won their last 10 games in 2013 to seize a wild card.

They’re not out yet.

AL WILDCARD

Let’s take a peek at how the wild card is shaping up.

Rk Tm W L W-L% GB Strk R RA Home Road 1Run vRHP vLHP ≥.500 <.500 last10 last30
1 LAA 72 50 .590 L 1 4.7 4.0 41-23 31-27 22-18 51-34 21-16 32-37 40-13 5-5 17-13
2 OAK 73 51 .589 L 5 4.8 3.5 40-21 33-30 17-17 53-36 20-15 41-33 32-18 3-7 15-15
3 BAL 70 52 .574 W 1 4.3 3.8 34-26 36-26 24-18 51-37 19-15 42-35 28-17 6-4 19-11
4 KCR 68 55 .553 W 1 4.1 3.9 33-28 35-27 17-21 49-38 19-17 38-35 30-20 8-2 21-9
5  SEA 67 56 .545 W 1 4.0 3.2 34-32 33-24 14-22 40-40 27-16 39-28 28-28 8-2 17-13
6  DET 66 56 .541 0.5 L 1 4.6 4.3 33-29 33-27 19-17 41-38 25-18 36-33 30-23 4-6 13-17
7  NYY 63 59 .516 3.5 W 2 3.9 4.2 29-29 34-30 20-16 47-42 16-17 31-33 32-26 5-5 17-13
8  TOR 64 61 .512 4.0 L 1 4.5 4.4 33-26 31-35 11-12 47-45 17-16 32-37 32-24 3-7 15-15
9  CLE 62 61 .504 5.0 L 1 4.3 4.2 37-24 25-37 18-17 46-41 16-20 31-38 31-23 5-5 16-14
10  TBR 61 63 .492 6.5 L 2 4.0 3.8 28-34 33-29 17-16 46-46 15-17 35-47 26-16 6-4 19-11
11  CHW 59 65 .476 8.5 W 1 4.3 4.7 31-29 28-36 21-18 42-49 17-16 36-38 23-27 4-6 15-15
12  BOS 56 67 .455 11.0 L 1 3.9 4.3 29-33 27-34 24-23 37-46 19-21 31-47 25-20 6-4 14-16
13  MIN 55 67 .451 11.5 L 1 4.2 4.6 26-32 29-35 17-19 37-45 18-22 33-43 22-24 4-6 13-17
14  HOU 52 73 .416 16.0 W 1 4.0 4.7 29-36 23-37 13-21 37-51 15-22 30-50 22-23 5-5 12-18
15  TEX 48 76 .387 19.5 W 1 4.0 5.1 23-38 25-38 16-18 35-53 13-23 27-49 21-27 3-7 10-20
Avg 62 60 .506 4.2 4.2 32-29 30-31 18-18 43-42 18-18 34-38 28-21 5-5 15-14

Kansas City and Seattle are the hot teams here with both going 8-2 in their last 10 games. Notice that the top 4 teams are division leaders (Oak and LA are tied for first in the West), with Seattle holding the 2nd wild card. KC has a 1 game lead over the Mariners.

The thing that jumps out at me here is how Seattle murders left-handed pitchers, but is only a .500 club against righties. That could really hurt Seattle in either a playoff series, or even a wild card play-in game. Most managers will load up on righties in any playoff vs. the Mariners.

Also notice that Tampa Bay has been nearly as hot as KC their last 30 games with a 19-11 record. The Rays have returned from the dead and are within striking distance of the wild card at 6.5 back.

It’s a long shot, but I wouldn’t count out GM Andrew Friedman’s boys just yet.

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Tags: Josh Willingham Kansas City Royals

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