It had been about 30 years since the Kansas City Royals lifted the Commissioner’s Trophy. Since winning the World Series in 1985, they have experienced just about everything a franchise possibly could.
The team had Rookie of the Year’s in the 1980s, endured run-ins with the rulebook, were consistent playoff contenders in the late 1980s through the early 1990s, were a consistently below average team in the late 1990s through the early 2000s, and were the worst team in baseball in the mid-2000s.
In the mid-2000s, the Royals had 9 consecutive losing seasons going all the way up through 2012. They posted 3 consecutive 100 game losing seasons. They were undoubtedly the worst franchise in baseball throughout the 2000s. If asked even as close as 3 years ago, many people would have bet that even one of the cursed Cleveland sports team would have hoisted a trophy before the Royals did.
However, all this talk ended on November 1. The Kansas City Royals beat the New York Mets 4 games to 1 and lifted the trophy once more. They shocked the world by making it to the World Series in 2014, and then proved to the world that they were a team to be afraid of by winning it all, almost uncontested, in 2015.
Now the question on everyone’s mind is “How did they get there?” This is a team that is still in the bottom half in payroll, ranking 16th among the 30 MLB teams, and is 159 million dollars behind the Dodgers, who have the highest payroll in baseball. They did not make a splash in free agency, and to he naked eye, seemed to have just sprinkled some fairy dust and magically won. The Royals had one of the worst pitching staffs in the MLB, and while they consecutively finished dead last in the AL Central, they started to build on their staff. They traded 4 star prospects to the Rays for pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis, both of whom were on the roster for the 2014 World Series appearance. They used both of these pitchers to solidify their staff and they used them as a base to grow and expand. During the middle of the season, they also traded for All-Star pitcher Johnny Cueto from the Reds.
The Royals also drafted exceptionally well in the mid-2000s. While they were playing some of their worst baseball at the MLB level, their front office was on the top of their game. Between 2005-2008, all of their first round draft picks were crucial parts of their title run in 2015. They also made some amazing international signings. Yordano Ventura, a pitcher from the Dominican, was a key part of the World Series run at only 24 years old. He posted a 1.13 ERA after the trade deadline. They also signed Salvador Perez, a catcher from Venezuela. Perez has made the All Star team every single season since 2013, and has been one of the top key players for the Royals over the past 3 seasons.
The Royals have shown the world that they could go from worst to first in just a few short seasons with a great front office. With important trades, solid drafting, and great international scouting, the Royals have gone from a team with no hope to MLB champions with many players on their roster who are not even in their prime yet. They are showing hope to many fan bases across the country who have lost all hope in their franchises, like teams such as the Cleveland Browns, Miami Marlins, and the Philadelphia 76ers.
After 30 seasons and a decade of demise, the Royals are back on top of the MLB. They defied the odds and their front office put together one of the most promising teams in recent years, providing hope to many fan bases across the United States, and suggesting that not all sports teams that wander are lost.
-Blake Saathoff ’17, Junior Sports Editor