Who should Royals fans root for?

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A week ago I posted about the Royals playoff outlook (here) and since then the Royals have won some games.

This week, I wanted to look specifically at the Wild Card race. For this, I have decided to include the following teams in my research:

Blue Jays : 70-54
38 games remaining

Red Sox : 69-54
39 games remaining

Orioles : 67-56
39 games remaining

Mariners : 66-57
39 games remaining

Tigers : 65-59
38 games remaining

Royals :64-60
38 games remaining

Astros : 64-60
38 games remaining

Yankees : 63-60
39 games remaining

My goal, when beginning this research, was to analyze each teams schedule and try to project what I thought might happen in the Wild Card race.

That being said, when I began my research I realized it was simply impossible.

By my count, there are 69 games remaining between the teams listed above. If you were to include the other two division leaders, there are 103 games remaining (it's possible I mis-counted, or double-counted a series or two... but you get the idea).

The realization that the races are relatively tight, and that all of these good (can we really call them all good? I guess if we call the Royals a "good" team we have to include the Astros and Yankees since our records are the same and the Royals got here by way of 15 of 20 stretch) teams play each other for the majority of their remaining games means that the playoffs this year are anything but set in stone.

But I had about 45 minutes worth of research done, and really didn't want to waste that time. I noticed throughout putting the schedules into my text document and spreadsheet that a few teams popped up more than others. It turns out there are a few teams who play a number of games against the other Wild Card contenders that are out of contention. With September fast approaching, I figured it was about time to start watching score boards.

I chose to exclude the Orioles and Blue Jays from this list of teams to root for. Both teams play over half their remaining games against other WC opponents, but it's really not possible to decide which one to root for between the two. The Blue Jays have 22 games remaining against WC opponents, Orioles 24. Blue Jays play the Mariners, Orioles play the Tigers. I think I'd rather play the Orioles in a 1-game playoff over the Blue Jays and the Blue Jays are in 1st already, but the Orioles could impact the division.

It's just too tough to decide which one, so just hope one of those two teams gets super hot.

Here are the teams we should be rooting for when they aren't playing the Royals:

#1 Tampa Bay Rays
Record: 52-70
Remaining WC games: 33

The Rays are the number one best team to root for. They are 14.5 games back from the Wild Card, so even a 15 game winning streak isn't going to do much for their chances (and will not impact the Royals... if the Royals go on a 15 game losing streak then it's goodbye playoffs).

However, they play a TON of games against other WC contenders, mostly due to being in the same division as 4 of them.

Here is a look at the games they have remaining:

4 v Red Sox - 8/22-8/25
3 @ Astros - 8/26-8/28
3 @ Red Sox - 8/39-8/31
3 v Blue Jays - 9/2-9/4
3 v Orioles - 9/5-9/7
4 @ Yankees - 9/8-9/11
3 @ Blue Jays - 9/12-9/14
4 @ Orioles - 9/15-9/18
3 v Yankees - 9/20-9/22
3 v Red Sox - 9/23-9/25

Then 4 @ White Sox and 3 @ Rangers.

As you can see, every game between now and September 26th is played against a team the Royals are competing with for a Wild Card spot. For the Royals to make it to the Wild Card, they almost HAVE to have the Rays go on a hot streak.

#2 Angels
Record: 52-72
Remaining WC games: 19

The Angels play 19 games against WC teams between now and the end of the year. That's 1/2 of their games. They are 15.5 games back of the WC, so it really doesn't matter how good they finish the season unless they win every game.

3 @ Blue Jays: 8/23-8/25
3 @ Tigers: 8/26-8/28
3 @ Mariners: 9/2-9/4
3 v Mariners: 9/12-9/14
4 v Blue Jays: 9/15-9/18
3 v Astros: 9/30-10/2

A decent run in these games can really improve the Royals chances.

#3 Twins
Record: 49-75
Remaining WC games: 16

The Twins also play the Royals 6 more games, so in a perfect World they would go 32-6 losing their 6 to the Royals and finishing the season at 81-81. They're not going to, but that would be nice.

Games of note:

3 v Tigers: 8/23-8/25
3 @ Blue Jays: 8/26-8/28
4 @ Tigers: 9/12-9/15
3 v Tigers: 9/20-9/22
3 v Mariners: 9/23-9/25
***For division purposes, they also have 6 games against the Indians. The Indians are 5-8 against the Twins this year**

It's entirely possible how the Twins finish the season will be a big deciding factor in the Royals final position. If you include the 6 games the Royals play and the 6 games the Indians play, along with the 7 the Tigers play, the division could be largely decided by how the Twins play out the year. I would rank them #1, but this post was about Wild Card standings only, not the division. Since the Royals still have several series against the Tigers and Indians themselves I feel how those series go will be far more telling than how the Twins fare.

I hope this has given you something interesting to think about. The Rays are super important to the Royals WC chances. If they can get hot and go 18-11, win 15 of their next 20 or even 17 of their next 38, it could see the Royals just squeak into the Playoffs this year.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.