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The Royals are what we thought they were

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At the end of the day, there were...no surprises

Whit Merrifield #15 talks with Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals after scoring a run in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 08, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Whit Merrifield #15 talks with Salvador Perez #13 of the Kansas City Royals after scoring a run in the third inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 08, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The 2021 Kansas City Royals season is over, and what a ride it has been. This was an incredibly streaky team, catching fire for weeks at a time only to turn around and display incompetence only rivaled by the 2004-2006 trash fires that Royals fans would rather soon forget.

Consider: on May 1, the Royals stood 16-9 and were in first place in the American League Central. Over the next two months, Kansas City went 17-38, sinking to last place in the AL Central. Then, from the All-Star break through their doubleheader on September 20, Kansas City went 32-29. The Royals went to one of the best teams in baseball to one of the worst teams in baseball to a quietly competent team that maintained its pace for months.

But if you take it in aggregate, at the end of the day, the Royals are what we thought they were.

Why, then, did the 2021 Royals look so dang good and so dang bad for such long stretches? The simple answer is that mediocre teams like the 2021 Royals aren’t good or deep enough to maintain their winning for months at a time, but they’re too good to stink for too long. This results in a team that is all over the place but ends up with a mediocre record.

But it is the team’s volatility and streakiness that has obscured another fact of the 2021 Royals: that they’ve been basically just what everyone predicted them to be! Preseason predictions can sometimes look silly in hindsight—take a look at projections for the Minnesota Twins, for instance—but they’ve been spot-on for the Royals.

Royals Win Total Projections

Predictor Wins
Predictor Wins
RR Staff Median 76
PECOTA 71
ZIPS 77
ESPN 78
Sportsbook 72.5
Bovada 71.5
AVERAGE 74.3
ACTUAL 74

Taking the average these publications and bettor lines, you get a preseason prediction of 74.3 wins. When the Royals closed out their season yesterday with a loss against the Twins, they finished at...74 wins.

It’s a big, big, long offseason when your team doesn’t play in the postseason. We’ll have months and months to analyze and re-analyze what went wrong and what went right. We’ll look to the future and dream about the potentials of Bobby Witt Jr., Nick Pratto, MJ Melendez, and others.

But at this current moment, it’s worth noting that, when it was all said and done, this team did about what everyone expected them to. It’s easy to point out when projection systems and bettor lines and experts mess stuff up, but we should also remember that these predictions are useful because they’re right a lot of times, too.