On Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays, Mike Moustakas hit his 37th home run of 2017. Moustakas now holds the single-season record for home runs by a Royal.
After the game Ned Yost was asked about Moustakas’ record-setting homer and had this to say:
“These guys here, they’re going to leave such a legacy on this team. World champions, All-Stars, Gold Glovers, All-Star MVPs, World Series MVPs. They’ve all accomplished so much. A part of this group being the new leader for home runs in a year, I think just adds on to everything else.”
This core group of Royals has won the AL Wild Card Game, an American League Central Division title, two American League Division Series, two American League Championship Series and one World Series.
And they’re not short on individual accomplishments:
▪ Eric Hosmer: Three Gold Gloves, an All-Star in 2016 and the 2016 All-Star Game MVP.
▪ Lorenzo Cain: An All-Star in 2015 and the 2014 American League Championship Series MVP.
▪ Alcides Escobar: A Gold Glove, an All-Star in 2015 and the 2015 American League Championship Series MVP.
▪ Alex Gordon: Three All-Star Games, four Gold Gloves and one Platinum Glove.
▪ Salvador Perez: Four Gold Gloves, five All Star Games, a Silver Slugger Award and the 2015 World Series MVP.
It took a while for some people to notice, but this team and these players started coming together in 2011.
Not the same old Royals
In 2010, Billy Butler played first base along with Kila Ka’aihue; Yuniesky Betancourt played shortstop, Mike Aviles got most of the playing time at second base, Jose Guillen played right field and designated hitter while Albert Callaspo and Wilson Betemit shared third.
The Royals were 67-95 that year and Royals fans didn’t have much hope that things would change any time soon.
The Royals’ record wasn’t a lot better in 2011, but that was the year Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar, Kelvin Herrera, Danny Duffy and Lorenzo Cain played their first games for the Royals. It was also the year Alex Gordon took over as the regular left fielder.
In just one season the Royals went from being defensively challenged to having Gold Glove candidates all over the field. The core of a championship team was in place.
Fans might have felt frustrated by decades of failure, but as far as the new players were concerned, those decades of failure had nothing to do with them — they’d just arrived.
And they weren’t the same old Royals.
Ask how long it takes for players to figure out how to survive and win at the big-league level and the most common answer you might hear is three to four years. Three years after this group of players came together, they made it to the World Series. Four years after this group of players came together, they won the World Series.
11 games left and lots to celebrate
This season has had its ups and downs and after beating the Blue Jays 15-5 on Wednesday night, the Royals are 3 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot with three teams to catch and 11 games left to play. The odds don’t look good.
But even if the Royals don’t make the postseason, Ned Yost is right: Mike Moustakas’ single-season home run record is just a small part of the legacy this team will leave behind. On Oct. 1 the Royals will play the last game of this season and what might be the last game these guys ever play together.
And however that game goes — win or lose — Royals fans have a lot to celebrate.