Five things we learned about the Royals from their dominant World Series win
That's it. The season's over. Sure, the Royals could have decided to lose on Sunday night to ensure that we would have baseball until Tuesday, but that's just not how professional sporting teams think. They don't worry about how I'm going to fill my Tuesday night, they just want to win the World Series. (For the record, I guess I'll start watching that show where Rob Lowe is a lawyer.)
But now that the Series is over, it's time to look back and see what the Royals taught us along the way.
1. Put the ball in play
As strikeout rates continue to rise across the league, with an endless stream of hard-throwing relievers and batters not afraid of striking out to instead focus on power, the Royals are positively Little League-ian in their "Hey, make contact and good things will happen."
The Royals were tied for first in the Majors with an 81.9 percent contact rate during the regular season and they kept it up in the postseason. In the American League Division Series, the Royals struck out 36 times to the Astros' 58. In the AL Championship Series, the team struck out 35 times to the Blue Jays' 56. And in the World Series, even going up against pitchers like Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, they struck out just 37 times compared to the Mets' 46.
During the World Series, it felt like the Royals were using 2x4s instead of baseball bats as they continued to foul off pitches, before hitting the ball fair and watching balls drop easily in between fielders. The numbers back that up, too, as Kansas City hit .202 with two strikes. While that seems low, compare that to the league average during the regular season when teams hit just .177. Factor in that the Royals were going up against one of the best rotations in baseball and it looks even better.
Like Mike Moustakas' RBI single to give the Royals some extra breathing room in Game 2:
Or Christian Colon coming on for his first plate appearance of the postseason, and with a runner on third and the count at 1-2, lining the game-winning single into left field:
2. Salvador Perez doesn't need rest
Do you remember that X-Files episode, "Sleepless," about a government experiment that created people who didn't need to sleep? While I'm not saying that Salvador Perez was part of a later series of improved experimentation, I'm also not saying that he wasn't.
After all, one year after setting a record for most innings caught by a catcher in a season, catching every inning of the postseason along the way, Perez caught only 56 1/3 fewer innings during the regular season ... before catching all but four innings in the postseason en route to his World Series MVP.
Because he's a Royal, Perez also picked up six of his eight World Series hits with two strikes on him. And when he wasn't in two strike counts, he treated the field like it was a pinball machine.
He was also impressive behind the plate. After the Mets stole a surprising seven bases against the Cubs in the National League Championship Series, they managed only one against the Royals, getting caught twice thanks to Perez's maybe-created-in-a-lab-throwing arm.
3. Never stop running
While the Mets' speed game was stopped, the Royals never stopped running. After Lorenzo Cain scored from first to send the Royals to the World Series, K.C. continued to race around the bases in the Fall Classic.
Not only did the Royals swipe seven bases in the series, but their aggressiveness on the bases exploited the Mets' defense and opened holes that allowed them to score.
Like in Game 4 when the Royals scored three runs in the top of the eighth to win the game. While many point to Eric Hosmer reaching first base on Daniel Murphy's error, Cain racing to third on the play opened up a hole for Mike Moustakas to hit his RBI single that would score another run.
And, of course, there was Hosmer racing home to tie the game in Game 5, allowing the Royals to tie the game. While some point to the fact that Hosmer may have been out with a better throw, the fact is that Hosmer's play forced Duda into making a quick decision, like when getting to the front of the drive thru before you're ready. And that's why moments like this happen:
4. Wade Davis is less of a man and more of an unhittable pitching machine
Imagine a mad scientist working deep into the night on a pitching machine that renders the baseballs completely unhittable. They simply disappear when you hit them or have powerful anti-gravity cores causing them to simply fall directly in front of the plate when you do make contact.
You don't need to imagine that. It exists and his name is Wade Davis. While we already knew he was good -- like if you were to describe a Michelin meal as "good" -- with a 0.97 ERA over the last two regular seasons. But in the playoffs, going up against the very best in the world, he is still untouchable. Davis pitched 10 2/3 shut out innings in the postseason with four of those coming against the Mets.
Of course, part of what allowed the Royals to comeback in each of their victories against the Mets, when they were slowly, methodically stalking them before going for the jugular with one of those well-placed singles, was their amazing bullpen. Not only did Davis shutout the Mets, but Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera and Ryan Madson combined for another 13 innings of scoreless baseball.
5. The Royals are very, very good
And really, that's what it all comes down to. While there were some skeptics coming into this season after their hot run to last year's World Series, this year's version won 95 games, never trailing the division by more than a game at any time.
Five hitters had an OPS+ of over 120 and the team had an amazing defense with the highest UZR in baseball (nearly twice as high as the second-best team), leading to plenty of moments like this:
And the team was incredibly deep. Not only with players like Alcides Escobar stepping up to win the ALCS MVP and hit the first inside-the-park home run in the World Series since 1929, but with Jarrod Dyson ready to come in off the bench or Chris Young a strong rotation option despite a mid-80s fastball.
And that's why the Royals are your 2015 World Series champions. Because they were simply a very good team, from top to bottom. Not a whole lot you have to know after that.