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Pondering if the Blue Jays could have been the Royals (plus a Find The Link winner is crowned)

Ed Zurga

While watching the Kansas City Royals walk a tight rope against the Angels last week before tearing them apart last night, I couldn't help but think that it could have been the Blue Jays getting the sweep and advancing to the American League Championship Series. The comparisons obviously have to begin with both teams having playoff droughts that spanned more than two decades (before the Royals broke their drought this year of course). The 2014 editions of these squads also looked fairly similar at points this season with neither team having a consistent rotation although both the Royals and the Blue Jays starting pitchers certainly had their spectacular moments this year. While teams this postseason were rolling out pitchers like Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer, the Royals won games with big efforts by pitchers like Jason Vargas, who is a lefty with a 2014 ERA and FIP higher than Mark Buehrle. They also got a big effort in game two from a young 23-year-old in Yordano Ventura, which the Blue Jays also happen to have in Marcus Stroman (they also kind of look alike).

The Blue Jays actually scored more runs than Kansas City this year by a wide margin and hit nearly double the amount of home runs so it certainly wasn't offence that separated these two teams. In fact, the Royals had three players hit 10+ home runs compared to the Blue Jays seven. But when you look at the stats in the playoffs so far Kansas City has the most runs scored, granted they have an extra game played, but it still is a stark contrast to how they performed during the regular season. They've also hit four home runs in four games, which is a lot quicker than it took them to match that total during the beginning of the year. Did the team just get lucky/hot at the right time and rode the wave all the way to the ALCS?

Surely the ONLY difference between the Blue Jays and the Royals isn't the respective bullpens of the two teams. It's pretty well known that Kansas City had an amazing relief group in 2014, while the Blue Jays were not very good (not Detroit bad, but bad nonetheless). It's certainly true that 75% of the Royals' postseason games thus far have been decided by bullpens, but if they didn't perform earlier in the game then the bullpen would have never had a chance to play such an important role. It's hard to imagine that the bullpens were the only deciding factor between Toronto sitting at home watching the playoffs and the Royals flying to Baltimore to start the ALCS. It must have been a combination of good luck, strong relief pitching, and....magic?

Deciding if the Blue Jays could have been the Royals this year is a tough question to answer, but with the amount of similarities between the two teams it certainly begs the question whether Toronto fans right now could be lining up for ALCS tickets at the Rogers Centre box office if a little luck had gone their way. The Pythagorean records of the two teams for this season actually favour the Blue Jays (85 wins) over the Royals (84 wins), which makes the Royals success especially difficult to swallow. With both teams wearing blue and exhibiting similar characteristics, I guess we can just squint our eyes and pretend we're watching our Jays? You could also drink so much that the Royals become the Blue Jays in front of your very eyes...(not supported by Bluebird Banter but not not-recommended either)

Find The Link

It's also time to crown the Find The Link champion for the 2014 season! JaysfanDL held the lead basically all season, but then decided to stop trying (I think?) and allowed all of the competition to catch up. So without further ado, your 2014 Find The Link winner is eastcoastjayfan! Congratulations, you win nothing of tangible value but a whole lot of respect from everyone on BBB. Thanks to everyone who answered the FTL questions this year and actually read the previews as well! It was a lot of fun. Here's how the final standings looked:

  1. eastcoastjayfan: 13
  2. JaysfanDL: 11
  3. erik.t: 9
  4. masterkembo: 7.5
  5. e&n4e: 7.25
  6. madrush: 6
  7. rob.magnificent: 6
  8. Damaso's Burnt Shirt: 5
  9. TouchEmAllJoeC: 2
  10. TV_BJ: 2
  11. gmg411: 2
  12. paul12: 1
  13. fishedin: 1
  14. Kraemer_17: 1
  15. Siefert: 1
  16. ChronoTS: 1
  17. J. Bruce: 1
  18. bengrass: 1
  19. Hathorian: 1
  20. getupkid: 1
  21. Goldenhawk99: 1
  22. Raffa: 1
  23. JaysfanAtlanta: 1
  24. MookieG: 1
  25. stolarz88: 1
  26. ADK Mary: 1
  27. Pikachu: 1
  28. McBluejays: 1
  29. Lutherie: 1
  30. MOD: 0.5