Five goals for the last week of the Kansas City Royals’ season
Kansas City Royals: Five goals for the last week of the season
After Wednesday night's loss in Detroit, there is exactly one week left in the Kansas City Royals' season and that means seven games. They finish off the series against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday afternoon before going to the Cleveland Indians for three games over the last weekend and then coming home to finish the year against the Tigers again. It won't quite be a quiet end to the year for the Royals, playing the pennant chasing Tigers, but it will still be the end of another losing season in Kansas City. But despite being out of contention and despite it being confirmed that they will have more losses than wins, it's not all gloom and doom in Kansas City and certainly it is not the case that the Royals have nothing for which to play.
Of course, the Royals would prefer to be fighting for something more clearly and universally meaningful. But for a variety of reasons it has not panned out this year and they will be finishing the season in third place and below .500 come what may. Where Ned Yost tends to really excel as a manager, however, is that he keeps his players motivated and trying to win and indeed demands that they have a winning mentality. (Just ask Yuniesky Betancourt.) And despite the poor result overall, Yost will not lack material with which to motivate his players. There are still small victories to be won both for the team and for individuals on the whole and five of them stand out clearly.
Royals will want at least three more wins this year
It goes without saying that the Royals want to win games in the remainder of the season. Every team in every sport on the planet wants to do that regardless of the time of their season. But the Royals have a specific target for which to aim: 73 wins. If they finish the season with 73 wins they will avoid a ninety loss season for just the third time this century. They will also better their win total from last season, though they actually only need 72 to do that. With all the optimism surrounding the team it would be nice to add a clear, measurable improvement in record to the improvement in table position afforded by the Indians' collapse. In order to get to this mark they will need to win three of their last seven games. It's possible, especially with three against the Indians left, but they will have to do better against the Tigers than they are showing now.
Can the Royals climb one more spot?
Of course, the AL Central is a weak division. Third place there is nice, but that doesn't necessarily mean a lot to the rest of the league. With that in mind, the Royals will no doubt aim to finish above the Seattle Mariners. It's nothing personal against Seattle, but right now they are 2.5 games ahead of the Royals. If the Royals can both catch them and hold off the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays they will finish in what would be considered mid-table in the American League, specifically ninth out of 14. But more importantly, they would also then rank as the best of the non-contending teams. It obviously isn't as good as contending, but it is something.
Two more assists for Francoeur to set a record
The Royals could also aim to lead MLB in outfield assists, but as was alluded to yesterday they already have a huge lead. There is no chance that they will do anything but. Perhaps more notable is Jeff Francoeur's chance to tie or set the franchise record for most outfield assists in a single season. Right now the mark stands at twenty, set last year by Alex Gordon. Francoeur currently sits on 19 with seven to play. It would also be a nice mark for the Royals also to have the top two individual outfield assist leaders in the majors for the second year running. Last year Gordon finished first and Francoeur second. This year Francoeur will finish first (giving the Royals a first in 113 years achievement) and Gordon is tied for second.
Gordon can set a Royals record in doubles
Gordon may lose the Royals franchise record in outfield assists, but he has a fair shot at setting a different franchise record. His two doubles on Wednesday night gave him 51 for the season, best in the major leagues. But the number for which he will be looking is 55. That will be enough to break the Royals record set in 1977 by Hal McRae. Of course, he will probably be content with leading either the majors or just the AL in doubles, but that's a nice little target for which to aim. It'll also send him above teammate Billy Butler who hit 51 in 2009. You can bet that both players know exactly where the other stands!
Jake Odorizzi is looking for his first big league win
The last big thing the team as a whole will be trying to make happen is also a goal for one player and that is a first big league win for Jake Odorizzi. He pitched well last Sunday against the Indians, but got little run support and then the bullpen lost the plot. He's scheduled to go again this weekend against those same Indians (this time on the road) and his hitters will be angling to give him something with which to work as Odorizzi and the team build for next season.