Get ready for more Royals playoff baseball at Kauffman Stadium

Ben-Zobrist-Playoffs

SEPTEMBER 2015 – After 29 years between playoff appearances, the Kansas City Royals will be going back to the playoffs again this year.

Guaranteed.

They entered September, 30 games above .500, a 13-game bulge over the Minnesota Twins to win their first ever American League Central Division championship and a magic number of 20.

No one in the AL Central is going to catch the Royals this year. They are too good and the other teams are too weak.

Of their remaining 32 games, only one – a Sept. 28 makeup at the Chicago Cubs – is against a team that would be in the playoffs if it started Sept. 2. Only six other games – all with the Twins – are against a team with a winning record.

The Royals want more than just to win their division. Manager Ned Yost said they covet finishing with the best record in the American League, which would give them home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The charging Toronto Blue Jays, who went 21-5 in August, have the second best record in the league. The Royals enter September with a six-game lead over Toronto.

If the Royals would play the Blue Jays for the AL title and it would go the distance, they want that seventh game at Kauffman Stadium, not Rogers Centre.

The Royals went 19-9 in August, which tied for their most victories in a month since they won 21 in August 1989. It is the Royals’ seventh straight winning month, including the first five months this season. It is the first time since 1982 a Royals’ team has begun the season with five consecutive winning months.

Royals ReportThis season reminds one of the 1980 season when the Royals went 97-65 and entered September with a 20-game advantage over the second-place club. They ran away with the AL West as the 2015 Royals are doing with the AL Central.

Here are some interesting August numbers.

Ben Zobrist, who was acquired from the Oakland Athletics at the end of July, hit .343 with a .972 OPS. He has four home runs, 14 RBIs and a .414 on-base percentage in his first 29 games with the Royals.

With Alex Gordon returning to left field after missing 48 games with a pulled groin, Yost needs to find a place for Zobrist to play every day. He is an accomplished second baseman, plus being a solid outfielder.

In August, second baseman Omar Infante hit .141 with a .162 on-base percentage and a .239 slugging percentage. The Royals will need much better production from the second base position if they are to advance far into the playoffs.

While right fielder Alex Rios had a better August, he still has only two home runs and 22 RBIs and a .333 slugging percentage for the season. San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner has three more home runs than Rios and a .525 slugging percentage. He is not too bad on the mound either (see 2014 World Series if you need a memory refresher).

Shortstop Alcides Escobar needs a break and maybe Yost can give him a breather in September. Escobar had a miserable August, a .197 batting average with two extra-base hits, although he did steal six bases without being caught.

Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer and Kendrys Morales had a superb August.

Moustakas broke out of his July struggles to hit .281 with a .562 slugging percentage and a .937 OPS in August. Moose and Morales are tied for the club lead with 15 home runs.

Morales had a .489 slugging percentage and an .895 OPS in August with five home runs and 20 RBIs. He is among the AL leaders with 90 RBIs. Gordon’s 74 RBIs topped the club in 2014.

Cain remains consistent, hitting .304 in August. He is hitting .313 for the season with 29 doubles, 12 home runs and 68 RBIs. Cain hit .301 with five home runs, 53 RBIs and 29 doubles last year. Add his defensive superiority and Cain is on the AL MVP candidate shortlist.

Hosmer is hitting .311 with 14 home runs and 77 RBIs with a month left in the season. He hit .270 with nine home runs and 58 RBIs last year.

The Royals won last year without a player having their best offensive year. This year several have improved infinitely at the plate, making the Royals’ a tough lineup.

On the pitching side, Yordano Ventura, who was optioned back to the minors in July but recalled a day later before he left town after left-hander Jason Vargas went on the disabled list with a torn elbow ligament that would require season-ending surgery.

Ventura given a reprieve went 4-0 with a 3.41 ERA in six August starts, holding opponents to a .210 batting average and striking out 37 in 37 innings.

Kris Medlen, who replaced Jeremy Guthrie in the rotation in August, went 3-0 with a 2.79 ERA in August.

Danny Duffy, who is having an up-and-down season, went 3-1 with a 3.66 ERA in six August starts.

The Royals need more from Johnny Cueto, who was acquired from the Cincinnati Reds to be the No. 1 starter. He went 2-3 with a 3.86 ERA in his first five Kansas City starts.

Greg Holland recorded seven saves in eight opportunities in August, but also had a 6.48 ERA. Yost said he is dealing with a “cranky elbow,” so there is concern.

Wade Davis did not give up a home run last year and had a ERA lower than one most of this season. He logged four saves in as many chances in August, but he also yielded two home runs and had a 3.27 ERA in 11 games.

Kelvin Herrera, the other member of the Royals’ bullpen trifecta for the final three innings, went 2-0 with a 3.29 ERA in 14 August games, while holding hitters to a .176 average.

The Royals need HDH to be nearly spotless in the playoffs if they are to win the World Series.

These above numbers are good enough to get the Royals back into the playoffs. It is the October and even possibly early November numbers that everyone will remember the most.

Article by Alan Eskew, Editor.

One Response to Get ready for more Royals playoff baseball at Kauffman Stadium

  1. Joe Hampton says:

    If I’m Yost I start Ventura in game one then young in game two. cueto scares me but I’m optimistic. Go royals

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