It’s a battle of the bests this weekend, as the first place Royals take on the first place Cardinals in another I-70 Series showdown, this time in St. Louis. The Royals walked away victors in the first series last month, taking two out of the three games. The Cardinals will be looking for revenge this time around, but the Royals are on a four game win streak and just swept the Minnesota Twins.
I don’t put a lot of value into momentum, but this time I am. As I mentioned, the Royals just swept the Twins and are turning things around after a pretty ugly slump, both offensively and defensively. A trip to the Twin Cities came at just the right time, as they managed to create some separation in the standings, and do have at least a little room for error this weekend.
The Cardinals are 6-4 in their last 10 games, and are returning home from a trip on the west coast against the Dodgers and Rockies. They have a 22-7 record at home this year, and MLB best. The Royals are hovering just over .500 on the road with a 15-12 record, but as I said, they’ve built momentum in this one.
I’m going to deviate from my regular routine in this preview, and instead of breaking down each game, I’m going to talk about the series as a whole. Partly because most of the time I usually ramble instead of analyze, and partly because I just feel like doing something different.
Yordano Ventura, much like the rest of the rotation, has been a roller coaster this year. We’ve seen him pitch really well, and we’ve seen him pitch not so well. He’s very unpredictable, something the Royals can’t really afford right now. He owns the fourth best ERA in the rotation at 4.62, ranking only ahead of Jeremy Guthrie. If Ventura can gain consistent command of his pitches, he should be able to climb back to where he was last season.
I’d really like to see more offensive production from the Royals in this series, mostly because I know that they are capable of doing so. Kendrys Morales leads the league in RBI, a stat we didn’t think he would have at this point in the season. Clearly a proven upgrade over Billy Butler, Morales has been just one of several high points of this offense.
A rather surprising statistic is the Royals lack of stolen bases this year, especially considering it was such a big key to success for them last year. They rank 17th in the league in this category, a number that should really be much higher. The players haven’t gotten any slower, so I’m not sure why they aren’t running as much.
Of course, they’ve added quite a bit of power, but having that threat on the bases can be a huge advantage in important games. Despite the offseason acquisitions of Morales and Alex Rios (although he hasn’t played in over a month), the Royals rank 27th in home runs. While they are still finding ways to score runs, they’re going to need to turn on the jets in order to sustain any sort of offensive production.
Moving from the players to the fans, I want to respond briefly to a column written by a St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer today, Joe Strauss. In it, he calls us Royals fans “New Money” fans, whatever the hell that means. Quite frankly, it doesn’t really make any sense at all. Basically, his argument is that the Cardinals still have the best fans in baseball.
I tend to disagree. Here’s a quote from his story:
The Kansas City Royals’ fan base is new money and it’s not going away.
Look out the window and these folks may be parked on your lawn while letting their pit bull mix “stretch” himself all over the landscaping.
After living on baseball’s version of corned beef hash for more than a generation, Royals Nation is getting used to filet mignon in a barbecue market.
While the food metaphor is adequate, I wouldn’t call the Royals fan base “new money.” This city has prided itself on being a sports town for literally the past decade (and far before that, as well) and these comments have no merit.
Are attendance numbers up at games? Sure, but those numbers don’t reflect an entirely new fan base. They reflect a revived, rejuvenated, and more excited fan base that was always here. To put it other words, maybe we’ve simply been a fan base in hiding. We are not acting as a “nouveau riche” as Strauss argues, but rather we are finally rewarding our team for finally giving us something good to watch.
I don’t expect Strauss to understand, and I don’t expect the Cardinals fan base to understand either. If you’ve watched a team crap on the field for a decade, you’ll understand. We aren’t new money at all. And even if we were, as a fellow Twitter member put it, new money always trumps old money.
Go flood Busch Stadium this weekend, Royals fans. Show them who the best fans in baseball really are.