For Pete's Sake

Experts are bullish on Royals’ second-half chances

Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield celebrated with teammates after his game-winning two-run double in the ninth inning of a game last month against Toronto.
Kansas City Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield celebrated with teammates after his game-winning two-run double in the ninth inning of a game last month against Toronto. jsleezer@kcstar.com

To paraphrase Hank Williams Jr., are you ready for some baseball?

Baseball returns from the All-Star break on Friday, when the Royals open a key 10-game home stand against the Texas Rangers.

The Royals are 44-43 and three games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central. In the wild-card standings, the Royals are 1  1/2 back. They are right in the playoff hunt, and a good start after the break would boost their postseason chances.

With the break in action, many people took the time to forecast what might happen over the second half of the season. It seems folks are bullish on the Royals’ chances.

On ESPN’s Baseball Tonight podcast, Buster Olney answered a Twitter question about which teams will be the biggest surprise and disappointment in the second half of the season. Olney said the Cubs are poised to be the biggest disappointment (this was before they traded for Jose Quintana).

“For biggest surprise, I still wonder about the Kansas City Royals,” Olney said. “They are the team to me that all the other teams should not want to see in the postseason. This group of guys is going to be so loose, the last time together. I was talking about this with (Royals third baseman) Mike Moustakas yesterday (at the All-Star Game): they believe in each other, they’ve been in the postseason thing. I’m going to be really fascinated watching the Royals in the second half.”

At MLB.com, more than 50 people from the website and MLB Network made postseason picks. The Royals got some love for winning the American League Central, but the Indians are the favorite.

But how would a Royals-Yankees Wild Card Game strike you?

“Our survey likes the chances of the young, powerful Yankees to stick around in the AL East and grab an October berth, and Kansas City’s recent run of inspired play earned Ned Yost’s gang our second AL slot in a tight vote over the third-place Rays,” MLB.com’s Doug Miller wrote.

Former ESPN baseball writer Jayson Stark was interviewed by The Score and he sees the Royals in the postseason. It was one of his three bold predictions for the second half.

Here are my predictions: The Brewers will win the NL Central. Who’d have thunk it? But I think that’s where we are now. The Royals will make the playoffs. I think they will sneak into the wild-card game against the Rays. And the Astros will win the AL West by, I’m gonna say, 30 games. We haven’t seen that in a while.

And finally, MLB.com’s show “The Bullpen” shared this clip after the All-Star Game in which the topic was the Royals:

Pete Grathoff: 816-234-4330, @pgrathoff

  Comments