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Getting into and staying in contention

What do the Royals need to do between now and July 31st to avoid trading?

MLB: Kansas City Royals at San Diego Padres
Ned Yost’s team is a conundrum wrapped inside an enigma.
Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

There is a lot of debate right now about whether the Royals are in contention. Some people say that because the Royals are within 4 games of the division leader with lots of time left that they are in contention. Other people argue that because the Royals have still lost more games than they’ve won they are not yet in contention.

I argued last weekend that if the Royals wanted to get back in the conversation they needed to destroy their road-trip opponents and win at least 7 of the 9 games. They did exactly that. Still, there’s more than a month left until the deadline. But they are under .500. But they’re also close to the division leader. But that division leader is now the equally red hot Cleveland baseball team instead of the “will fall apart any day now” Twins. But the decision won’t be made, yet.

The Royals did well enough on the road trip to make me wonder what a good enough record would be to justify not selling at the deadline and whether the Royals could get there. I wasn’t alone in my pondering as one of my fellow Kevin’s posted this twitter poll on Friday morning:

A full quarter of respondents thought simply being at .500 would be sufficient. The best vote getter, on the other hand, was actually 3 games above .500 at 29%. But most people thought the Royals would need to get to 5 games or more over .500 before they could justify not selling.

Given the Royals’ current record of 33-35 they would need to win of 21 of their remaining 35 games before the Trade Deadline; a winning percentage of .600. For those that think April was a fluke that’s still higher than their winning percentage since the start of May which is at .578. If you want to argue that the Royals’ June winning percentage is all one must pay attention to then you’re in luck, they’ve won at a .688 clip so far, this month.

There’s been a lot made of the Royals’ recent winning stretch being about facing bad teams. But the Royals’ combined opponent record - weighted for games against and measured after Saturday’s games - is only .503; since then they’ve faced opponents with a .509 record. Also, while it’s true that their recent winning streak was against very bad Padres and Giants teams - plus an at-best mediocre Angels teams - they’ve actually done better against middling teams:

Royals vs Opponent Record

Opponent Record W-L Winning %
Opponent Record W-L Winning %
5+ over .500 6-7 .462
Around .500 19-19 .500
5+ under .500 8-9 .471
Stricly over .500 15-23 .394
Strictly under .500 18-12 .600

Before the games last week the Royals were actually much worst against terrible teams than they were the good ones. Where they’ve made their money is against the ones, like the Royals currently, who haven’t yet figured out where they’re going. This is especially true since the end of April when they’ve gone 16-10 against them.

Of the Royals’ remaining game opponents before the All-Star Break 9 are currently well above .500, 26 are near to it, and none are more than 5 under. If the Royals were to maintain their overall winning percentages against those groups they’d go 4-5 against the good teams and 13-13 against the mediocre teams for a total record of 17-18. That won’t cut it.

What about if the Royals use just their records since April ended. Then they’d go 3-6 against the good teams and 16-10 against the bad teams. That would be worth a 19-16 record, which still won’t cut it.

If the Royals use the strictly over and under .500 numbers from up there they could expect to go 6-10 against the over .500 teams and 12-7 against the under .500 teams which would leave them at 18-17.

Basically, if the Royals want to be 5 games over .500 at the All-Star Break they’re going to have to play even better than they have since May. They’ll manage it easily if they play the rest of June like they have so far but this pace is going to be hard to maintain as they leave the friendly west coast to play some tough east coast teams over the next week. To say nothing of the horror they will face next week when they play against some more of their dreaded division rivals.

While everything is clicking and they’re scoring gobs and gobs of runs it seems incredibly possible to defeat these foes that have previously tasked the Royals. We shall see if the Royals can maintain this momentum against good teams when they start their series against the Boston Red Sox, tonight.

Poll

Will the Royals be at least 5 games over .500 by the trade deadline?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Yes
    (263 votes)
  • 56%
    No
    (479 votes)
  • 12%
    That’s just, like, your opinion, man.
    (102 votes)
844 votes total Vote Now