A meteoric rise built on the game’s best outfield defense helped the Royals return to baseball’s postseason for the first time in 29 years and nearly win the World Series. With other teams around the majors racing to catch up, can the American League champs get back to the playoffs and win it all?
The Star explored this topic in-depth with a special 26-page print section Sunday, April 5. If you’d like to read about it digitally, here are the columns, features and graphics:
▪ To understand how great the Royals’ defense has become, we must remember how bad it was in 2009, Sam Mellinger writes.
▪ James Shields and Raul Ibañez, two influential clubhouse voices, are gone, but new leaders should emerge, Vahe Gregorian says.
▪ A graphical breakdown of three highlight-reel catches from last year’s playoffs, plus maps that show how much ground this year’s outfield alignment can cover.
▪ Unprecedented relief pitching was a catalyst to last year’s stellar playoff run. Can the Royals avoid regression this season?
▪ Baseball took notice of the Royals’ playoff blueprint, especially their philosophy on acquiring relief pitchers.
▪ Defense has worked against the Royals when opposing teams shift to take away Mike Moustakas’ pull hitting. But he’s made adjustments to beat the shift this spring.
▪ The AL Central got stronger during the offseason. Pete Grathoff breaks down which new pieces in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Minnesota pose as the greatest threats.
▪ A game-by-game season calendar, with TV information.
▪ Here’s more information about Monday’s 3:10 p.m. opening day game vs. the White Sox at Kauffman Stadium, including times for the AL championship ceremonies, the national anthem and new food and drink options.