The Royals are American League Central Division Champs.
They confounded many of the experts, not just PECOTA and Fangraphs, but baseball writers, Sports Illustrated, and yours truly, who pegged them at around 78-79 wins showing you should probably stop reading me when it comes to baseball analysis. The Royals exceeded expectations, not just of those useless prognosticators, but of even the most optimistic Royals fans who never would have guessed this team would own the best record in the league with a week left in the season. How they did it will be the subject of a lot of analysis in the off-season, but the fact they did it just shows how unpredictable and amazing baseball can be.
The Division Title is just one stepping stone to a larger goal - a world championship. But the Division Title is an impressive achievement to be celebrated nonetheless. A division title rewards enduring the marathon of the regular season. While a team can fluke their way to a hot post-season run, its much harder to fake your way over 162 games. The six-month Major League season has its ups and downs, injuries, slumps, hot weather, cold weather, and long road-trips at late hours. To endure all of that and come out on top is a testament to greatness.
And the Royals have not been a one-season wonder either. It is time to acknowledge their staying power. Over the last three seasons combined, no American League team has won more games than your Kansas City Royals.
Wins, American League 2013-2015
This Division Title has been a long time coming. The last time the Royals won a division title, they actually played in a completely different division - the American League West. The last time they won a division, in 1985, baseball had just four divisions, no Wild Card, and no interleague play. Montreal still had a team, and Dee Gordon's dad Tom had yet to be even drafted by the Royals.
The Royals have never won a Central Division title before. The Central Division was created in 1995, and in that first year, the Royals finished in second place - 30 games back of the Cleveland Indians. Over 20 seasons, the Royals have finished an average of 22.5 games out of first. In 2005, they finished a whopping 43 games out of first.
Over the past 29 seasons, 142 division titles have been earned, none by the Kansas City Royals.
That all changed last night. The Royals are your AL Central Division Champs. There may still be concerns about October, but Royals fans should enjoy this moment and recognize the great achievement the Royals have already accomplished. They gave Royals fans one of the most exciting seasons in franchise history, then double-downed and did it again this year. No matter what happens the next few weeks, the Royals will hoist another flag up at Kauffman Stadium next spring, a flag to fly forever.