After MLB threw out 50 million All Star ballots, the Kansas City Royals still had 6 players voted into the All Star Game. While most baseball expert predicted the Royals to repeat the success they had last year in winning the American League pennant, no one predicted them to perform as strongly as they have in the first half of the season. They currently lead the AL Central by four and a half games and have the AL’s best record. Recent injuries have not slowed them down either.
When you look at the Royals’ roster, it is easy to see why they are as good as they are this year. Their roster is filled with young players who are stars or are extremely solid players who contribute consistently. The Kansas City lineup features Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Alex Gordon. Combined with the solid production of the other members of the lineup, it provides a formidable challenge to opposing pitchers.
The Royals’ pitching staff is composed of bright, young arms and solid veterans. Led by Yordano Ventura and Edison Volquez, it often spells trouble for opposing lineups. The primary key to the performance of the team is that it has remained healthy throughout the first half.
The Kansas City pitching staff has been its greatest strength this year. Their starting pitchers consistently turn in quality starts and the pitching staff as a whole maintains a good ERA of 3.50. The performances of Ventura and Volquez in particular are largely responsible for Kansas City’s record at the All Star break.
Graphic via royalrevival
Another strength of the Royals is their hitting. While no one player stands out in particular as a major threat in their lineup, it is filled with good hitters from the top to the bottom. This enables the team to keep constant pressure on the opposing pitcher, eventually making him crack.
Finally, the Royals have an intangible strength. They play well as a team and always seem to turn in a solid game in all aspects. There is no area in which a critical observer can say that weakness will cost Kansas City games.
If Kansas City has one weakness at the All Star break, it is their bullpen. It has been shaky at times although it has not cost them very many games. However, given the performance of the team as a whole, a few slipups by the bullpen are magnified much more than they ordinarily would.
The Second Half
Kansas City is certainly poised to finish the second half of the season as well as they started it, barring injuries. Their solid play should net them the AL’s best record, but they will need to address the bullpen before the trade deadline. Adding another lefty specialist wouldn’t hurt and finding another quality reliever would also go a long way towards making them the favorites to represent the AL in the World Series.
The team’s most critical stretch should come about 2 weeks after the All Star break when they have series against Cleveland, Detroit, and the White Sox. If Kansas City can win these series, they will virtually assure themselves of another division title and prime playoff position.
Graphic via bloguin