Words you think you'll never type: the Kansas City Royals, led by Dayton Moore and Ned Yost are Amercian League Champions. Dayton Moore, the man that has spent the last several years being the punch line for jokes that include the words Jeff Francoeur, is the general manager of the American League team that is going to the World Series.
So what can the Blue Jays learn from the Royals?
1. Just get in.
I think this is the big lesson from the Royals getting to the World Series is you just gotta make the playoffs. I've always kind of discounted the Wild Card spots because you go into the next round having just used your best starter, you are going into the Divisional Series with a handicap. But, in reality, just get into the playoffs and your team can go on a hot streak and anything can happen. Just get in, good things can happen. Easier said than done. I guess the other half of this one is get hot at the right time. There was a Tweet from Sportsnet saying that this time in MLB history that neither World Series team won 90+ regular season games in a non-shortened season.
2. Have a good bullpen.
You know, you don't need an incredibly deep bullpen. The Royals have had the same 3 guys come out of the bullpen in each of their 4 wins over the Orioles: Wade Davis, Kevin Herrera and Greg Holland threw 14.2 innings of baseball, allowing just 1 run, over 4 games. They allowed 7 hits, 3 walks with 15 strikeouts. Jason Frasor chipped in with a scoreless inning of his own. Brandon Finnegan was the one guy out of their pen that had a bad time of it, pitching in 2 games, getting just 1 out, while allowing 3 hits and a walks.
3. Build from your minor league system?
Of their regular starting 9:
- Perez was a amateur free agent signing.
- Hosmer was a Royals first round draft pick (number 3 overall).
- Infante was a free agent signing.
- Escobar came in the Greinke trade.
- Moustakas was a Royals first round draft pick (number 2 overall).
- Gordon was a Royals first round draft pick (number 2 overall).
- Cain came in the Greinke trade.
- Aoki came in trade with the Brewers for Will Smith.
- Billy Butler was a Royals first round pick (14th overall).
Greinke was a first round pick too, number 6 overall. It seems like the moral of the story is to have picks in the top 10 of the first round of the draft. But also, if you aren't going to be the Yankees or Dodgers, you have to develop players through your system to keep a reasonable payroll.
I think picking your moment kills. In the Wild Card game against the A's they stole 7 bases caught once. In the Divisional Series against the Tigers, the Royals stole 5 bases without getting caught. Against the Orioles, they only stole 1 base and were caught twice (Jarrod Dyson both times). The Royals seem to be very smart at figuring out when they can run and when they can't. On TV they made a big deal about how smart Rusty Kuntz was a picking up signs from the pitcher about when he was going to the plate. I'm thinking that maybe they just were very good at timing how long it took the pitcher to throw to the plate and used that information to decide whether to steal or not. I think that's a good lesson, some teams you can steal against, some you can't.
5. Defense is important.
The Royals had exceptional defense in center field (Lorenzo Cain had a 18.7 UZR/150 there and yet Jarrod Dyson was even better in center, 36.6 UZR/150), left field (Alex Gordon had a 22.6 UZR/150). Alcies Escobar and Salvador Perez are very good at short and catcher. Of course, the group of them are pretty good on offense too. It isn't like they are putting out 9 guys like Ryan Goins and Anthony Gose, who are great on defense, but can't hit enough to keep in the lineup, but they are putting out guys that play great defense and can hit enough to
What lessons would you like the Jays to learn from the Royals?