Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The 2014-15 Kansas City Royals Were One Of Baseball’s Great Underdog Stories

We love our sports forecasts here at FiveThirtyEight, but one of the things that make the games great is when a team comes along and takes prognosticators by surprise. So along with our Hall of Pretty Damn Good Players, we want to appreciate these unsung teams that nobody saw coming, in a series we’re calling the Little Teams That Could.

Before their magical playoff runs of 2014 and 2015, the Kansas City Royals had not exactly been a fixture in baseball’s postseason.

OK, talk about huge understatements …

Although K.C. had ranked among baseball’s best from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, the 1990s and 2000s were not kind to the franchise. Team cornerstones like George Brett, Willie Wilson and Frank White gave way to stars who didn’t stay long — Carlos Beltrán, Johnny Damon, Zack Greinke, etc. — and a host of lesser players who filled in the gaps. After winning the 1985 World Series, Kansas City missed the playoffs for the next 28 seasons in a row.1 And worse than merely being mediocre, Kansas City was almost always straight-up bad. From 1997 through 2013, the Royals finished better than 20th in our final Elo rankings just three times (19th in 2000, 18th in 2008 and 14th in 2013)....

And yet, the Royals started out steady in 2014 and exploded in the second half of the season — going an MLB-best 52-272 from July 22 onward (including playoffs). K.C. got an All-Star-level season (4.4 wins above replacement)3 from the late-blooming Lorenzo Cain in center field and an improved rotation, to go with manager Ned Yost’s core Royals formula: contact hitting, great defense, blazing speed and a lights-out bullpen. Kansas City made the playoffs for the first time since that 1985 championship and knocked off the A’s in an unforgettable wild-card game, then swept the Angels and Orioles to give themselves a perfect 8-0 postseason record en route to the World Series.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 11, 2020 at 01:44 PM | 2 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: royals

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. A triple short of the cycle Posted: November 11, 2020 at 04:56 PM (#5988351)
knocked off the A’s in an unforgettable wild-card game

Thanks for bringing that up.
   2. Walt Davis Posted: November 11, 2020 at 09:28 PM (#5988403)
going an MLB-best 52-272

It was a rough 2nd half for everybody. :-)

EDIT: Meant to add that 2014 just looks like a standard fluke -- decent team over-performs and manages to make the WC, gets hot at the right time. But following that up with 95 wins makes it all look very non-flukey. I don't imagine I looked too brilliant in my 2015 prognostication.

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.



<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Dynasty League Baseball

Support BBTF


Thanks to
Mike Emeigh
for his generous support.

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogWeekend OMNICHATTER! for May 15-16, 2021
(54 - 6:04am, May 17)
Last: TomH

NewsblogJoe Girardi, Jean Segura have confrontation as Philadelphia Phillies lose to Toronto Blue Jays
(2 - 3:43am, May 17)
Last: John Northey

NewsblogLos Angeles Angels designate slugger Albert Pujols for assignment
(187 - 1:40am, May 17)
Last: sunday silence (again)

NewsblogFree agent Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Dodgers agree to major-league contract
(5 - 1:33am, May 17)
Last: the Hugh Jorgan returns

NewsblogNBA 2020 Season kick-off thread
(3216 - 12:53am, May 17)
Last: "bothsidesism" word 57i66135

NewsblogNew York Yankees 3B coach Phil Nevin, 1B coach Reggie Willits positive for COVID-19
(39 - 11:56pm, May 16)
Last: Tom Nawrocki

NewsblogThe Detroit Tigers Should Be Better Than This By Now
(2 - 11:05pm, May 16)
Last: GregD

Sox TherapyTap the Brakes
(19 - 9:31pm, May 16)
Last: Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer

NewsblogOT - Soccer Thread - Spring is in the Air
(464 - 4:57pm, May 16)
Last: AuntBea odeurs de parfum de distance sociale

NewsblogEmpty Stadium Sports Will Be Really Weird
(13077 - 2:52pm, May 16)
Last: Joyful Calculus Instructor

NewsblogThe Caray legacy revisited, 30 years later
(33 - 9:08am, May 16)
Last: ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick

NewsblogESPN, MLB announce seven-year extension running through 2028
(3 - 12:45am, May 16)
Last: The Yankee Clapper

NewsblogPadres players Fernando Tatis Jr., Wil Myers test positive for COVID-19, at least 3 other players out for contact tracing
(46 - 11:53pm, May 15)
Last: Lowry Seasoning Salt

NewsblogMilwaukee Brewers ace Corbin Burnes sets record for strikeouts without a walk to start season
(10 - 10:01pm, May 15)
Last: Barry`s_Lazy_Boy

NewsblogMLB players union seeking $500 million in grievance against league
(4 - 5:09pm, May 15)
Last: Barry`s_Lazy_Boy

Page rendered in 0.2444 seconds
48 querie(s) executed