So I have been listening to the “Throwback League” podcast during this self-quarantine, which I strongly recommend to anyone who loves baseball history or statistics. As I was listening to the podcast while on a run, a thought struck in my mind: what is the best Kansas City Royals team of all-time?
If you look at record solely, then that honor would belong to the 1977 Kansas City Royals, who won 102 games, the only Royals team in the club’s 52-year history to win 100-plus games. However, that team lost to the hated New York Yankees in the ALCS, so it’s hard to consider it the best team in Royals history when there are two others that have won a World Series (1985 and 2015).
Thus, I felt that this debate could be fun, and in the fashion of the “Throwback League”, I wanted to create a playoff format and simulate the matchups to see, statistically, which historical Royals team would come out on top.
So, here is the format of the “Royals World Series”, a historical simulation to understand who could be the “greatest Royals team” in the history of the Kansas City Royals franchise.
What teams are included in the “Royals World Series”?
I decided that I would include the 10 best Royals team by record. I went back and forth with this because there are some notable exceptions from the list: the 1984 and 1981 teams did not rank in the Top 10 record-wise even though they did make the playoffs (the 1984 team ranked 17th record-wise with a 84-78 record; the 1981 team had the fewest wins with 50, but that was during a strike-shortened season in which they went 50-51). Three teams had better records and were in the Top 10, but failed to make the playoffs: 1989, 1975, and 1982. While I wanted to penalize them from making the field, I still felt at the end of the day, record mattered more than simply “making” the postseason. After all, wins are wins, and it’s not necessarily the Royals’ fault that making the playoffs was a lot more difficult back then.
Here are the 10 teams included, and their record that season, according to Baseball Reference:
- 1977 (102-60)
- 1980 (97-65)
- 2015 (95-67)
- 1989 (92-70)
- 1978 (92-70)
- 1985 (91-71)
- 1975 (91-71)
- 1982 (90-72)
- 1976 (90-72)
- 2014 (89-73)
What is the format of the “Royals World Series”?
Of the Top 10 Royals teams in history, I basically split them into two “leagues”, so we could have something akin to the current baseball format. I alternated the Top 6 teams between the two leagues: the “George Brett” and “Frank White” League (the only two Royals Hall of Fame players with their numbers retired). The remaining four were then paired as “Wild Cards” with one WC match up occurring in the “George Brett” league, and the other taking place in the “Frank White” League.
So here is how the “leagues” are broken down
“George Brett” League
- Wild Card Matchup: 1975 (Home) vs. 1976 (Away)
“Frank White” League
- Wild Card Matchup: 1982 (Home) vs. 2014 (Away)
Much like actual baseball, the “Wild Card” matchup is a one game playoff. Whoever wins the “Wild Card” game plays the No. 1 seed, with No.2 and No. 3 consequently playing each other in the “Divisional” round. The format of the “Divisional” round should look like this after the initial “Wild Card” games.
- 1 vs. WC winner
- 2 vs. 3
The “Divisional” round will be a best of three format, and winners will proceed to the “Championship” series of their respective league. Winners of the “Championship” series will advance to the “World Series”, where the “best” Royals team of all time will be crowned. Both the “Championship” series and “World Series” will be best of five matchups. While I thought about best-of-seven, I felt that best-of-five would produce quicker results, while still being a strong enough sample to see which team would reign supreme over a decent period of games.
How will games in the “Royals World Series” be played?
All games will be played on the WhatIf Sports “SimMatchup” baseball simulation, a computer algorithm that takes all the statistics and historical factors into play and produces results based on that data. I have done a few test runs with other games, and it’s pretty impressive, since they produced not only detailed box scores of the game, but also play by play per inning.
It’s not quite Strat-O-Matic, but it’s close and it helps make this series entertaining, especially when it comes to seeing who produces and performs, and which ones don’t.
How will the results of the “Royals World Series” be shared?
Each day, I will focus on one game of the series in a post on this blog. The reason for focusing on one is that I would rather go more in-depth on individual games rather than skimp on ones in order to compress multiple games in one post. That could produce a lot of posts, but I think with all the time we have until “real” baseball starts, it’s something. I will post these ones under “Royals Recap”, since I will be analyzing these almost as game recaps. I will also link the box score and play by play of the contest, so I can focus more on writing the recap of the game, and less going over specific play by play.
What is the purpose of the “Royals World Series”?
I wanted to have some fun and look at Royals history in a different lens. With no games going on (and most likely not for a couple more months to boot), I wanted to do something “game-like” where Royals fans could examine great Royals teams a little bit better.
But in addition to pitting the “best of the best” in Royals history against one another, this is also an opportunity for myself and other Royals fans to get to know other teams and players in Royals history. Yes, most Royals fans know about the Eric Hosmer’s, Wade Davis’, and Alex Gordon’s. And George Brett and Frank White are pretty ingrained in any die-hard Royals fan’s psyche as well? But what about the lesser known ones? The heroes of the late 70’s and early 80’s that are often forgotten or overlooked by younger or bandwagon Royals fans? This series will attempt to bring a light to those forgotten Royals stars, as well as seasons that often are forgotten in comparison to the 1985 and 2015 World Series runs.
So, pay attention tomorrow, as I will post the results of game 1 of the “Frank White” league wild card between 1982 and 2014. We will see how this goes.
As always Kansas City fans, Go Royals!