We asked our resident Giants and Royals fans to walk us through their respective 2014 seasons, from spring training to the 7-game World Series. In part 5 of the 7-part series, Brandon Schlotfeld looks back at KC’s second half. (Previously: Part 4 – SF’s first half)
Post-All Star Break baseball is the best kind of baseball there is. Of course, the playoffs are always exciting, but the madness of the trade deadline (or lack thereof – we’ll get there in a minute) followed by September call-ups make for a steaming potluck of entertaining baseball. As addressed in Part Three of this series, the Royals mostly stumbled through the first half, despite claiming first place in the AL Central for a few days. The defense and pitching were top notch as expected, but things became grisly once you gave them a bat to play with.
If July could be summed up in one GIF, it would be this. After playing their best baseball to date with a 17-10 record in June, the Royals took a U-turn and finished with a 12-13 record only after ending the month on a 7-2 run. With 85 runs scored, only the Reds and Mariners scored fewer times than the Royals that month, which is simple to accomplish when you reach base at a .305 clip. After a dismal first half, Eric Hosmer found his groove, and posted a slash line of .366/.425/.535 and a downright silly BABIP of .421 in 80 PAs (small sample sizes are fun). Mike Moustakas also rebounded from a mediocre first half of his own, hitting five home runs and a ludicrous ISO of .260 in 82 PAs in the month of July (hooray for more small sample sizes).
As hinted at earlier, the Royals were shockingly quiet at the Trade Deadline, while division leader Detroit Tigers plucked David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays, and wild card contenders the Seattle Mariners picked up Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia. With major offensive holes to fill, General Manager Dayton Moore surprisingly was looking into the starting pitcher market, with the team being connected to Jorge de la Rosa, A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, John Lackey, and Ian Kennedy. Even more surprising was that the team wasn’t connected to any third basemen, given Moustakas’ horrific season so far. Many joked that Moore’s latest strategy implemented into “the Process” was to do absolutely nothing. It turned out to be the best move made at the deadline.
Just like in 2013, a new Kansas City team seemingly appeared to replace whatever versions of themselves that had been taking the field in the first half. The Royals went 15-3 to start August, and reclaimed first place on August 11th, holding it firm in their hands for the rest of the month. Things got shaky in September, the Royals dropped back-to-back series against the Tigers and Red Sox, which put the Tigers two games ahead in the division. They would never retake the lead. Regardless, history would be rewritten and the entire population of Kansas City would blue itself when, on September 26, pitcher Greg Holland would induce a pop fly on Michael Taylor to Salvador Perez, clinching a playoff berth for the first time in 29 years. There’s nothing I can say that could encapsulate the excitement of Royals fans that night, so let’s just watch George Brett’s celebration on a loop for the time being.
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