This early in the season, the record can look different after two days. On Sunday morning, the Royals woke up 10-4. That looks, almost dominant. That looks like a team that can make some noise. Today, they're 10-6. Still a nice record, sure, but one that looks much closer to .500.
According to the Playoff Odds Report at Baseball Prospectus, the Royals have just a 0.8% chance of winning the AL Central. (Last week, I explained how BP computes this.) While those odds are an improvement over what the Royals were slotted for a week ago, the team remains a serious long shot. BP pegs the Royals as the worst team in the division and there are still months and months and months of baseball left to play. The heartening thing is that, yes, they play the games on paper and that yes, the games now do in fact count.
What really excites me this afternoon is what BP's computer says about the rest of the division. With Minnesota and Chicago floundering, the Tigers are now the favorites to win the division... with a robust 83 wins. The White Sox come in second with 82, followed by the Tribe at 81 wins. The mediocre Al Central is back! A three-team race in September would be pretty fun, even if the Royals aren't involved. Well, the Royals would be involved, because they'd be playing all those teams.
And actually, a four-team race is possible, because BP projects Minnesota to win 79 games as well. Crazy. This must be what being a National League fan is like. Every year I want to believe that the AL Central can produce a three team race, because usually the Tigers/White Sox/Twins are mostly the same. Somehow, it never quite happens.
In all seriousness, this is all very good news for the Royals. Step one in the Royals having any playoff shot is that the rest of the division needs to struggle. The Royals can't win 90 games with this roster. They just can't. They might be able to win 85 if everything breaks right. Moreover, those 85 wins are going to be easier to get if essentially everyone other than the Indians has a down year.
Keep hope alive.