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After coming so close to winning a championship only to fall in the World Series in 2014, the Kansas City Royals made it back to the World Series and closed the deal in five games against the New York Mets. It was their first championship in 30 years, and was all the more rewarding given how close they came to winning it the year before.
Of course, the toughest thing about winning a championship is having to win it again the next season, so can the Kansas City Royals win Major League Baseball’s biggest prize for a second season in a row come 2016? Here are some reasons that they can, and reasons they might not.
Kansas City Royals’ Strengths To Repeat
Despite not having a group of award winning players, the Kansas City Royals have plenty of strengths that will perpetually make them capable of winning championships for the foreseeable future. The first of which is their bullpen, which was lights out throughout this postseason when they proved their superiority over the Mets, Astros, and Blue Jays bullpens by a wide margin with very few exceptions. Having the best bullpen in Major League Baseball puts less pressure on the Royals’ starting pitchers, which is very important.
Kansas City Royals hitters also give them a great advantage over all comers, in their ability to avoid striking out. This was on full display in the World Series against the Mets, where New York’s power pitching was neutralized and their weak fielding exposed by a Royals team hellbent on simply putting the ball in play and testing opposing defenses. With the increased emphasis on home runs in recent decades, this approach has become more and more rare, but the Royals have proven that it can be very effective when the right players are in place.
MLB Competition May Be Too Strong
While there are undoubtedly great qualities that have rocketed the Royals to the top of Major League Baseball, there is also no shortage of competition that is looking to take them out come next season. That is the chief reason the Royals wouldn’t win the World Series in 2016, not because of any of their own shortcomings, but because of the presence of other great teams.
Chief among those great teams will be the Chicago Cubs, who have solid pitching, but suffered from a lack of meaningful experience at the end of their postseason run. Next year, they will be more aware of situations in their batting order, and they will reduce their number of strikeouts to increase their offensive production against power pitching as they saw against the Mets.
Speaking of the Mets, they are not to be counted out next season either, as their pitching staff will only get better with another year under their collective belt. Back in the American League, the Toronto Blue Jays are also a threat to lift the World Series trophy in their first full season with David Price and Troy Tulowitzki on the team.
By: Jason M. Sanin