By Kevin Kietzman
If the Royals are the best team in baseball at home, what are they on the road? Keeping in mind the bar is much lower on the road, it’s a fair question to ask as the AL Central leaders begin a three city, 10-game roadie that starts with four against Cleveland.
The Indians sit 2 ½ games back with a resume chalk full of computer stats that tell us they are way better than the Royals. Maybe 10 full games better than the Royals. The Royals resume is chalk full of post season trophies, flags and rings and a bunch of new players nobody has ever heard of. Oh yeah, and the Royals are alone in first place playing what injured left fielder Alex Gordon described as the best baseball he’s ever seen the team play.
The Royals have won six in a row, eight of nine and they’re batting a ridiculous .358 as a team during that stretch. In each of those games, the Royals have had 10 hits or more. It’s easy to see why Gordon’s observation has validity and it hasn’t all just been guys like Whit Merrifield, Paulo Orlando, Brett Eibner and Drew Butera leading the way. No, the stars are shining in KC. Lorenzo Cain is 10 for his last 21 and Eric Hosmer is becoming a true MVP candidate after going 14 for 26 with 12 RBI on the perfect 6-0 homestand.
But as wicked as this bunch as been at Kauffman Stadium, they have had some trouble on the road. The fans in Kansas City truly intimidate visiting pitchers during rally time and especially late in games. There is no magic potion on the road. KC is 11-15 in other ball parks and has a history of serious offensive droughts in many of those losses. It’s pretty obvious the Royals can’t keep up the pace they’ve set on the recent homestand, but can they be a .500 team on the road this year? If so, you get the feeling this division is over.
The Royals are already 13-5 against the Central, just flat out owning Minnesota and Cleveland. But the math guys, and many traditionalists that believe in starting pitching, think Cleveland is the most likely challenger. That makes this series so intriguing. The Indians haven’t played their best, have three outfielders out and are just 2 ½ back. The main problem Cleveland has is the Royals are just starting to play their best, have two outfielders, a third baseman and a catcher out and are 2 ½ games up. I know that’s not advanced math, but sometimes simple math provides the real answers. And the only math that matters in sports is wins and losses.
If the Royals can play better on the road, all the math tells us this division won’t be much of a race at all.
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