Royals: 2015 Season in Review

Thirty years. It has been thirty years since Kansas City has celebrated a baseball championship. Since 1985 this great city, these great fans, have been lacking this moment. On November 1st, 2015 the Royals sent the city into a frenzy. The 2015 World Series Champions call Kansas City home.

The road to the championship was entertaining in itself. 162 regular season games, and every single one counted. This is the story of the 2015 Kansas City Royals.

Preseason

3rd or 4th. That is where almost every single “expert” had the Royals finishing in the AL Central. Wonder what they are thinking right now.

The addition of Kendrys Morales and Alex Rios before the season began turned out being very good moves by the Royals GM Dayton Moore. Alex Rios was a very good addition, something a lot of people preseason didn’t think would turn out well. Rios hit a .255/.287/.353 stat line (Batting average/On-Base % /Slugging). While his .255 average doesn’t look very good, for a usual 9 hitter it’s a pretty serviceable season average. Add on a couple clutch postseason hits and he was a real good pick up.

Kendrys Morales came back from his ankle injury suffered on a celebration at home plate after a walk-off grand slam to go on and be one of the best hitters in the league this year. His .290/.362/.458 stat line was among the best in the league. His 22 Home Runs was his 3rd most in his career. His 106 RBI’s was the 2nd 100 RBI season in his career. He lead the Royals offense usually hitting in the 3 or 4 slot in the lineup. If Dayton Moore got what he wanted preseason, KC would have landed Torii Hunter who retired as a member of the Twins this season. Morales was a better player all year compared to Hunter and has some years left in him. Morales was the better moved, and he proved it all year.

First Half

The Royals began the season @ Minute Maid Park to face the Astros. The Royals made an early statement with an 11-1 win. They went on to sweep the series and head back to Kauffman Stadium for their home opening series against the White Sox. On the home Opener, KC dominated the game and won 10-1. After sweeping that series and a couple more wins, the Royals started the season on a 9 game win streak. The whole team was clicking on all cylinders going into their April 17th matchup with the Oakland Athletics.

The Athletics hadn’t been back to KC since their season ended in the 2014 AL Wildcard game.  It was a good back and forth game until this happened.

This hard slide from the A’s Brett Lawrie sparked some uncontrollable animosity between the two teams. In the very next game Ventura decided to back his teammate up, and teach Lawrie a lesson.

Later in the series, Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera also decided to back up his teammate.

The new found hatred between the teams went on for days after the series through comments from Lawrie. (WARNING: NSFW language)

The fighting didn’t stop there for the Kansas City Royals. On April 23rd the White Sox and Royals got into it. Going back to the Royals first home series of the year, there was multiple batters hit by a pitch. The Royals did not forget. Ventura had something to say to Adam Eaton and everything broke loose.

This bench clearing brawl resulted in multiple suspensions and fines for both teams. The Royals ended up winning the game 3-2, but losing the series.

After April finally ended, the fighting was all behind the Royals and they had a 15-7 record. Good for first place in the AL Central.

July 8th was a date that many Royals fans want to forget. On this date All-Star left fielder Alex Gordon went back to try to catch a deep fly ball from Rays Logan Forsythe’s eventual inside-the-park home run. It ended up being just a groin sprain when it could have been way worse. He missed only about 8 weeks.

Then, possibly the single, most important play of the Royals 2015 regular season ensued. Jarrod Dyson came in to replace the injured Gordon and made the fans erupt back into the game. Dyson then pursued to have one of the biggest performances of the season, putting the fans back in it, and proving the Royals can still win without their all-star LF. Next man up became a reality.

The rest of the first half was quiet. They kept winning, but still found a way to fly under the radar.  As the First half ended the Royals had a 52-34 record and were 4.5 games up on the Twins for first in the division.

The All-Star Game.

KC had 7 players voted onto the AL all-star team. But with Alex Gordon on the DL with the groin injury, only 6 were on the active roster.

From Left to Right: Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Pérez, Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Mike Moustakas.
From Left to Right: Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Pérez, Wade Davis, Kelvin Herrera, Mike Moustakas.
Lorenzo Cain went 2/3 with a RBI and Wade Davis pitched a scoreless 8th to help the AL clinch home field advantage for the World Series.

Second Half

The July 28th trade deadline was a busy one for the “Boys in Blue”. On July 26th, KC recieved Johnny Cueto from the Reds for pitching prospects: Brandon Finnegan (who you may remember from the 2014 World Series where he became the first player to ever play in the college and MLB World Series in one year), John Lamb, and Cody Reed. Along with Johnny Cueto, KC traded for Oakland’s super utility player Ben Zobrist. In return KC sent Oakland Sean Manaea and Aaron Brooks, both pitching prospects.

In conclusion the Royals sent 5 pitching prospects out of town for 2 impact players to help them get a title. If that isn’t all in I don’t know what is. Knowing Cueto would most likely leave the team after the season for more money elsewhere, some Royals fans didn’t like the Cueto trade. Especially after his overall poor play in the regular season. But you couldn’t judge the trade on the Cueto’s regular season results. The Royals got him to win playoff games. After a lackluster game 2 @ Houston in the ALDS, Cueto turned it on and won a couple clutch games. Including gems in game 5 of the ALDS and Game 2 of the World Series. In the end, Cueto lead the starting rotation to a World Series title. The Cueto trade was a success.

Ben Zobrist proved to everyone he is a player to be reckoned with. All the way from this first game with KC, all the way till game 5 of the World Series, Zobrist just performed. He was so easily welcomed into the clubhouse because he embodies what the Royals do on the field. He had unselfish, team first, mentality and won over so many fans in KC and beyond. This offseason, after Kansas City has finished partying, re-signing Ben Zobrist has to be near the top of their off-season to do list.

September 25th, 2015. Seattle came into Kauffman Stadium to face the Royals. The Royals magic number on the division was 2 games. About two hours into the game the word came in, the Cleveland Indians had defeated the Minnesota Twins to bring the magic number down to 1. A couple innings later and the Royals had their first division crown in 30 years. The crowd was electric. 

The celebration was the first of the year, but they knew that their work wasn’t done. Toronto was hot on their heels for the #1 seed in the AL. It took the Royals all the way to game 162 to clinch home field advantage.

Most Memorable Moment from 2015 Regular Season.

This is actually a tough decision. Because I already mentioned the Dyson performance after Gordon’s injury, Paulo Orlando’s walk-off grand slam was my choice. The rookie came out of nowhere this season and make his mark. He was known for his triples before this one swing put his name into every Royal fan’s household.

Postseason

Where do I start? Let’s fast forward to game 4, 8th inning of the ALDS. Royals are down 2-1 in the series. KC is down 6-3 going into the 8th inning the Royals were 6 outs away from elimination. Sound like a familiar setting? It’s almost the same as the 2014 AL Wildcard game; and history repeated itself. They key to the comeback was an error by the young shortstop phenom Carlos Correa.

Then Cueto pitched a gem. Game 5 was as easy a win as an elimination game can get. Cueto in this single game alone, showed him why the Royals traded for him.

The Toronto series was a very good series in itself. The Blue Jays found out first hand that the Royals don’t know how to quit. It seemed like almost all of their wins were come from behind. In game 6, up 3 games to 2 in the series, it seemed like Jose Bautista did it again. In the top of the 8th he hit a 2 run bomb to tie the game up at 3. But then Mike Jirschele had the “send heard round the world”.

Lorenzo Cain went from 1st to home on a single, Wade Davis comes in and ends the game with the winning run on 2nd for Toronto, and the Royals are on to their 2nd straight World Series.

World Series

Logo of Major League Baseball teams New York Mets and Kansas City Royals. The teams are playing in the 2015 World Series.
Logo of Major League Baseball teams New York Mets and Kansas City Royals. The teams are playing in the 2015 World Series.
The 2015 World Series put the New York Mets (90-72) against the Kansas City Royals (95-67). Games 1, 2, 6*, and 7* were to be played in Kauffman Stadium because of the AL win in the All-Star game. Games 3, 4, 5*, were to be played in Citi Field.

*Games if necessary.

Game 1

Edinson Volquez vs Matt Harvey. 14 innings. 5 hours 9 minutes. That’s how long game one of the World Series took. It was tied for the longest game inning wise in World Series history, and the 2nd longest in time. Game 1 started with a inside-the-park home run. The bottom of the 9th home run to tie the game by Alex Gordon is one of the clutches hits in MLB history, definitely Royals history. Then after 5 more innings of free baseball Eric Hosmer made up for his costly 8th inning error that put the Mets on top in the first place with a sac fly to win the game.

Game 2

Cueto pitched a 2 hit complete game. This is why the Royals traded for him. Royals win 7-1.

Game 3

As a Royals fan. Lets just pretend this game didn’t happen. Like I don’t even understand how this happens in a World Series game…

You know what, I can’t watch it again. Franklin Morales made on error on a play you expect to be made in high school ball. It was bad.

Royals lost 9-3. On to game 4 please.

Game 4

Daniel Murphy made an error that more than likely cost his team the game. Instead of tying the series at 2 all, the Mets fell back to a 3-1 deficit in the series. Going into the top of the 8th, the Mets were up 3-2 when Daniel Murphy let a grounder get under him and allow the tying run to score and put the winning runs in scoring positions. Then after a pair of RBI singles by Mike Moustakas and eventually MVP Salvador Perez the Royals took a 5-3 lead. The bullpen of KC was to good once again, and the Mets could not get anything going. Royals win 5-3.

Game 5

There were a lot of storylines going into this game. Edinson Volquez pitching for his dad who he lost just days before. Royals trying to win their first World Series in 30 years. New York Mets trying to salvage the series and win their first title in 29 years. The game was the Matt Harvey show for the first 8 innings. Holding the Royals to no runs. Terry Collins, the Mets GM, was going to pull Matt Harvey in favor of his closer Jeurys Familia. Matt Harvey talked his way back into the game and proceeded to give up back to back doubles to make the game 2-1 with the tying run on 2nd base with no outs. Terry Collins proceeded to pull Harvey and brought Familia into the game. After a groundout by Mike Moustakas that moved Hosmer to 3rd, perhaps the play of the series happened. on a soft grounder to 3rd baseman David Wright, Eric Hosmer waited until Wright wasn’t looking to take off towards home plate. He scores, the game is tied, he gets thrown out and they are going back to KC for game 6.

A good throw would’ve gotten him out. But Hosmer just showed what the Royals were all about in one 90 foot sprint. Putting pressure on the opposing team has been what has got them to there for 2 straight years, and in the end it is what won them the championship.

At this point the game is tied at 2-2 going into the 12th inning. Where we get a guy coming off the bench who hasn’t had an at-bat in over a month. A guy who hadn’t had a RBI in 41 days before this at-bat. Christian Colon got the hit that put them ahead. You may remember Colon as the guy that scored the winning run in the wild come from behind victory over the A’s in the Wildcard game last year. But this year, he made the difference with his bat. Followed by a rbi double down the left field line from Alcides Escobar and a bases loaded, bases clearing double by Lorenzo Cain, the Royals took a 7-2 lead with Wade Davis coming out of the pen.  Escobar’s RBI double in the 12th had him achieve a feat no other Royal has ever done. He now has a hit in 15 consecutive postseason games, a Royals franchise record. Escobar also beat a MLB record set by MLB legend Derek Jeter. He got 23 hits this postseason, beating Jeter’s record of 22 by a shortstop.

We did it Royal faithful. We did it. Go Royals. #TookTheCrown

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