The Kansas City Royals are your World Series Champions. That isn’t something the baseball world has heard since 1985, but after taking down the New York Mets in five games, the Royals were able to capture just the second title in the history of the franchise.
There are so many intriguing things about Kansas City’s championship run. They won two games in extra innings during the World Series, were able to win after falling behind multiple times, and served up some of the most clutch pitching and hitting performances you will ever see. Maybe the most impressive thing about this team is the fact that they lost the World Series in 2014 and were able to rebound just one year later. It was their goal all season to get to this point and quite simply, they were the hungriest team in all of baseball all season long.
Let’s explore the significance of this championship for the Royals in terms of franchise history and other points to put their season in perspective.
It’s been a long time
The last time the Royals won the world series was in 1985. That team included the likes of Cy Young award winner Bret Saberhagen and George Brett. They beat their interstate rivals(the St. Louis Cardinals) in that season’s championship, winning their first and (until now) only championship in team history.
This season’s Royals draw several comparisons to that ’85 team. First off, they beat the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series this season, just as they did 30 seasons ago. Both teams also rebounded from tough losses in the World Series to win the championship (the ’85 Royals lost; this season’s team lost in 2014). Aside from that, the way that the 2015 Royals won was quite different than the ’85 team.
A combination of great, clutch hitting and a powerful, clutch bullpen really paved the way to a championship this season for Kansas City. Guys like Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez were nearly unstoppable at the plate, especially in the series against the Mets. Then Wade Davis and so many other arms were nearly unhittable for their bullpen. It’s really the perfect recipe for victory and the Royals did it better than any other team in 2015.
It’s tough to compare teams that are separated by 30 years, but this year’s Royals should be considered the greatest in the history of the franchise.
How should the 2015 Royals be remembered?
If there is any one characteristic that defines this Royals team in 2015, it is relentlessness. Think about what this team did in the postseason to capture the title. First off, in the ALDS against the Houston Astros, they were on the brink of elimination in Game 4, entering the 8th inning of that game down by four runs on the road, trailing in the series two games to one. In that eighth inning, a string of clutch hits saw Kansas City take the lead and ultimately allowed them to win that game and the series clincher in Game 5.
The Royals’ clutch play continued in the ALCS against the Toronto Blue Jays. With a 3-2 series lead in Game 6, Kansas City was at home with a chance to clinch a return trip to the World Series. In the 8th, with a 3-1 lead, Blue Jays’ slugger Jose Bautista tied the game with one swing of the bat. Then came the bottom of the 8th and once Lorenzo Cain reached base, he wasn’t going to be denied a game-winning run. Cain scored from first base on a single by Eric Hosmer, running the bases with sheer determination. In the 9th, Wade Davis shut Toronto down to win the series.
Then came the World Series and the Royals’ relentless attitude didn’t quit. In Game 1, down 4-3 in the ninth, Alex Gordon tied the game with a home run to send in to extra innings. Then, in the 14th, Hosmer his a sac fly to win the game and set the tone for the series. In the series clincher in Game 5, they entered the top of the ninth down 2-0, facing one of the best pitchers in the game in the Mets’ Matt Harvey. Again, Kansas City came up huge, sending the game to extra innings once again. In the 12th, they scored five times to put the Mets away.
More than any team in recent memory, the 2015 Royals were the embodiment of what it takes to win a championship in Major League Baseball. They never gave up, never were overwhelmed by any situation, and continued to believe in one another. For that, the 2015 World Champion Royals should be remembered as the model of how teams should go about chasing a championship.
For both of the teams in the 2015 World Series, the future looks bright. The Mets’ roster is full of young pitching talent and if they can keep that starting rotation together, they will be a force in the National League for years to come. They need to develop and find more hitting, but this isn’t the last you’ll hear from New York.
As for Kansas City, this is a team that will be among the World Series favorites for the next handful of seasons. Their farm system develops talent about as well as anybody in the majors, and with their great manager in Ned Yost, the Royals should be able to continue to reload and find talent to keep them near the top of the heap in the American League. If they can keep the core of their lineup together, keep the bullpen together, and find more starting pitching, it isn’t crazy to think that this team can be right back in the World Series as soon as 2016.
Regardless, the 2015 Royals deserve to be recognized as one of the best teams of the decade, certainly, and maybe even of the new millennium.