by John Viril—
Dayton Moore is a Prophet.
Move over Nostradamus. Forget about Jimmy the Greek. Three weeks ago, Dayton Moore asserted that his team would “keep pushing” to win this season instead of selling off assets as the trade deadline approached. He insisted that there was “no reason” that the Royals could not win 15 of 20 games and pull into contention.
Moore’s comment was mocked far and wide in sports bars, in living rooms, and across the internet. Blogger Rany Jazayerli insisted the Royals should sell. Craig Brown from Royals Review called for Moore’s head. I derided Moore for being “unrealistic” and insisted that he made a mistake by failing to trade not only pending free agent Ervin Santana, but making the case that Greg Holland should be put on the block as well.
The very next day Moore’s team returned from the All-Star break and did exactly what their general manager said they could do. The Kansas City Royals have now won 15 of their last 19 games. If you include their July 14 loss to the Cleveland Indians, the Royals are exactly 15-5 in their last 20 games.
The Royals have zoomed to 5 games over .500 after stumbling into the All-Star break 6 games under. Unfortunately, the Royals have actually LOST ground on the division-leading Detroit Tigers—who have now won 11 straight games. Kansas City is now 8.5 games behind Detroit in the Central. However, Kansas City has closed the gap on the 2nd wild card spot from 10 games on July 18 to a mere 5 games today. They have passed the New York Yankees and now trail the Baltimore Orioles, the Cleveland Indians, and the Texas Rangers in the wild card race. Meanwhile, Texas has lost their best hitter (Nelson Cruz) and Detroit has lost SS Jhonny Peralta to Biogenesis suspensions.
The Royals are in this thing.
Sure their chances remain remote. ESPN calculates Kansas City’s playoff odds at 12.9%. Baseball Prospectus is much more pessimistic at 3.7%—but that’s because BP believes the Royals will post a .480 winning percentage over their remaining 51 games. While certainly possible, Kansas City has 29 games remaining against under-.500 teams and play 27 games at home. The Royals also have plenty of chances to catch the teams they trail in the Central Division. They have 11 games vs. the Tigers and 6 against the Indians.
Even Moore’s decision to acquire OF Justin Maxwell looks good. Maxwell hit a game winning home run in New York on August 3, and has gone 4 for 9 since his trade to Kansas City.
Dayton Moore is on a roll right now. And that roll just might yet land Kansas City in the post-season for the first time in 27 years.