Cut4 Postseason Primer: Kansas City Royals
From 30 World Series hopefuls, only a few remain. In case you haven't been following every contender, here's a catch-up on what you missed and what to expect next. In this edition: The Kansas City Royals.
Twenty-eight seasons. That's all you need to know about how much this postseason means to Kansas City. The longest playoff drought in the Majors has come to a belated end and the Royals are ready.
But if you need a few more reasons to be excited about Kansas City's journey to the postseason, try these out
5. Alex Gordon leaping all over the place in left field
Alex Gordon isn't afraid to sacrifice his body while he patrols left field, and the man has taken some serious tumbles in 2014.
There was that time when he slid into the warning track going after a fly ball and broke the wall:
Or remember that game when he reached into the stands for a foul ball and came back down without his glove:
And, of course, he isn't afraid to do a barrel roll across the grass:
The Royals playing in October means Gordon has at least a few more opportunities for body-sacrificing playmaking in left. You wouldn't begrudge him that, would you?
4. Rookie Yordano Ventura locking down baserunners
The Royals' greenhorn has picked up double-digit wins and improved his ERA as the season's progressed. Even better, Ventura has had a monster second half, lighting up hitters and growing into a dominant starter for the Royals. Among other things, you can chalk up his success to a killer curve:
But the real story of Ventura's season is his near-implausible stinginess when it comes to base stealers. According to Baseball Reference, Ventura has given up a historically low number of stolen bases. Believe it or not, Ventura went into mid-September without even allowing a stolen base attempt.
Grantland's Ben Lindbergh noted earlier this month that "Ventura's streak of 29 starts without a steal attempt is easily the longest to begin a career since World War II." Lindbergh also points out that Ventura has the fastest delivery in the Majors.
It's a good bet baserunners will be staying put this postseason when Ventura's on the mound.
3. The Royals bring their superfans all the way from South Korea
When you're on the way to your first postseason in nearly 30 years, you have to celebrate in style. The Royals had their fair share of superfans this year, but the team went all out for SungWoo Lee.
SungWoo's been a diehard since the '90s, learning English from watching baseball and never giving up on the Royals. So when the team spotted him on social media, they brought him to Kauffman Stadium all the way from South Korea to meet the team...
...throw out the first pitch...
and spend some time in the booth:
Whatever happens to the Royals come October, we know SungWoo will be cheering right along.
2. The other side of the Wil Myers trade
When the Royals traded Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi to the Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis, many thought Tampa Bay had pulled off highway robbery. But after nearly two full seasons and with KC headed to the postseason, it might be time to reevaluate.
Shields has anchored the Royals' rotation, eating over 200 innings while posting an ERA in the low 3s. And Davis has been positively lights-out in relief, posting spectacular stats on the way to setting team record after team record.
With both Shields and Davis likely to play crucial roles in the Royals' postseason run, we think most fans will be glad they're on the roster. And when things get tense in October, just follow Shields' lead and try out some soothing dugout yoga:
1. Lorde is the Royals' secret good luck charm
Who should Royals fans thank for their trip to the postseason? That would be Grammy winner Ella Yelich-O'Connor, better known as earworm crooner Lorde.
After "Royals" stormed the airwaves in 2013, Lorde admitted the song was inspired by a photograph of Royals great George Brett in National Geographic. So this spring Brett sent the singer an autographed jersey, and the pair even met in person in April.
That was enough to inspire at least one Royals-themed fan cover of "Royals":
If you think it's simply a coincidence that Lorde came out for the Royals just as they punched their first ticket to October in 28 years, that's your fantasy.
So what can we expect from the Royals this October? A few predictions:
James Shields will blow a bubblegum bubble so large it engulfs Kauffman Stadium and floats out into space, making the Royals and their opponents the first two teams to complete an MLB game while floating to the far reaches of the solar system.
These chic, tasteful fan suits will make a comeback:
Wade Davis will set yet another team record while exploring the strike zone, not to be outdone by actual National Geographic explorer Wade Davis.
Yordano Ventura's MLB-fastest delivery will disrupt the space-time continuum.