Milwaukee Brewers fans obviously would be happy if this comparison proves to be spot-on.
The Brewers are currently leading the National League Central, despite the Cubs being heavy favorites to win the division again. It's early June, so the Cubs could still end up on top, but FiveThirtyEight's Neil Paine took a closer look at why Milwaukee is doing well this season.
Paine found many similarities between this year's Brewers team and the 2015 Royals, who won the World Series (as if you forgot that).
"It isn’t just that the Milwaukee Brewers share the same center fielder with those Royals — although another All-Star caliber season from Lorenzo Cain hasn’t exactly hurt the comparison," Paine wrote. "The Brewers are also leading the NL Central with a strikingly similar combination of fielding, relief pitching and clever base running, even as the advanced metrics remain skeptical. (Sound familiar, Royals fans?) All that’s left is for postseason history to repeat — assuming Kansas City’s winning formula still works in a game that looks very different than it did just a few seasons ago."
The number of home runs in Major League Baseball has shot up (4,909 in 2015 to 5,610 in 2016 to 6,105 in 2017), and the game has changed dramatically, as Paine noted.
Nevertheless, entering Wednesday's games, the Brewers had a National League-best 37 wins.
Paine wrote: "Milwaukee ranks in the middle of the major league pack in runs scored, with middling numbers for both power and walks. ... Milwaukee is making up for the difference, though, with the majors’ 10th-best base running WAR per game, along with the third-best WAR per game from both defense and relief pitching. It’s a combination of metrics eerily similar to the one Kansas City produced during its own championship run three years ago."
Paine pointed out the Brewers' 27-0 record when leading after six innings and noted the Royals were 150-10 in 2014-15 when holding a lead going into the seventh inning.
"Milwaukee’s ability to track down balls in the field, led by Cain in the outfield and Orlando Arcia at shortstop, easily recalls the rangy Royals of, well, Cain and Alcides Escobar," Paine wrote. "And with reliever Josh Hader rewriting the all-time strikeout record book (to say nothing of the 0.60 ERA season Jeremy Jeffress is having), the Brewers have been even more unbeatable with a lead in the late innings than the Royals were in their Wade Davis-led heyday."
Paine's analysis also shows that the 2018 Brewers and 2015 Royals aren't exactly carbon copies, but there are obviously a lot of similarities.
You can read more on the comparison (and differences) here.