Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

Royals' confidence paying off at right time

MLB.com @RichardJustice

We've seen this movie before with the Kansas City Royals. We don't know if they're going to change the ending, but here's what we do know: You do not want to play this baseball team right now.

On May 7, Kansas City had MLB's worst record at 10-20. Manager Ned Yost did not panic. He said things would turn around. Yost said, emphatically, that he believed in his guys.

We've seen this movie before with the Kansas City Royals. We don't know if they're going to change the ending, but here's what we do know: You do not want to play this baseball team right now.

On May 7, Kansas City had MLB's worst record at 10-20. Manager Ned Yost did not panic. He said things would turn around. Yost said, emphatically, that he believed in his guys.

Since then, the Royals are 41-27. Only the Astros (45-22) have been better among the 15 American League teams.

Remember when there was speculation general manager Dayton Moore could break up his club by Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline and focus on 2018?

No more.

The Royals are 1 1/2 games behind the Indians in the AL Central and a game in front of the Rays in the race for the second AL Wild Card berth.

On Tuesday, Moore traded for three pitchers -- right-handed starter Trevor Cahill, right-handed reliever Brandon Maurer and left-handed reliever Ryan Buchter -- in a six-player deal with the Padres.

Video: Royals GM Moore on Cahill, Buchter and Maurer trade

This was Moore announcing that he believes in this team and is going to do his part to help it to another postseason appearance. As you probably know, there's some history in this area. In the past three seasons, Kansas City has won more postseason games (22) than any other team in the Majors.

At the moment, the Royals have baseball's best bullpen. Stop me if you've heard that one before.

Kansas City has a solid rotation led by Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel and Danny Duffy.

And that offense …

In the past six weeks, the Royals are near the top of the AL in runs, home runs and extra-base hits. Like those other years, they don't walk much, but they don't strike out much, either.

During their current six-game winning streak, they've had three walk-offs, which build confidence and resilience.

Third baseman Mike Moustakas has 14 home runs in this six-week stretch; first baseman Eric Hosmer has 10. Center fielder Lorenzo Cain and catcher Salvador Perez are hot, too.

In the bullpen, Pete Moylan has been insanely effective, with an 0.87 ERA since May 24. Closer Kelvin Herrera has converted 20 of his past 22 save chances.

Video: KC@DET: Herrera seals Royals' extra-inning win

It won't be smooth sailing to the postseason for Kansas City. Cleveland has morphed into the team we thought it would be. The Royals and Indians play each other 10 more times, so they may just settle it on the field.

If Moore had been tempted to blow up his roster, it's because this is the last season he'll have this group of players together.

Hosmer, Cain and Moustakas are among six Royals eligible for free agency after the season. But there's not a sense of this being a final rodeo. During Spring Training, I said something to outfielder Alex Gordon about what a ride this group of Royals had "had."

Wrong word.

"We're not done," he said.

Regardless of what happens, this group of players has had a great legacy of having resurrected baseball in Kansas City with a resume that includes two trips to the World Series (2014-15) and huge increases in television ratings and home attendance.

In short, they awakened the sport in one of the country's great baseball cities. That awakening began with the hiring of Moore in 2006. He did it the right way, focusing on player development and with a methodical approach that at times was too methodical for some.

Midway through the 2014 season, Royals owner David Glass had plenty of people telling him the whole Dayton Moore experiment had failed and that it was time to start over.

Glass did not waver. He believed he had the right guy in charge. Glass believed he had the right players, too. On July 21, 2014, Kansas City was still languishing below .500 at 48-50. And then something clicked.

Since then, the Royals have been the AL's winningest team, with a 268-218 record. They've won two AL pennants and the 2015 World Series.

Those teams -- their style, their makeup, their confidence -- were similar to these teams in plenty of ways.

To sum up: Don't sleep on the Royals.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Kansas City Royals