Submitted by Wayne Allyn Root on Saturday, July 29, 2017 at 2:04 PM
We've seen it several times in recent seasons. Everybody (particularly the analytics guys) writes off the Kansas City Royals in terms of being championship material. Then, somehow, some way, the team rises to the occasion when it matters most to play its best baseball.
The most obvious instances...
2014: KC was a Wildcard who went 8-0 in the American League brackets before losing the World Series to the San Francisco Giants 4-3. How does a Wildcard team go 12-3 in the postseason?!
2015: KC went 11-5 in the playoffs and won a World Championship by dominating the NY Mets 4-1. That's 23-8 over two seasons in PLAYOFF games for a team that statheads didn't think was for real.
It might be happening again in 2017, as the Royals carry an eight-game winning streak into Fenway Park this weekend to face the Boston Red Sox. And, the Royals also had a great run before the All-Star Break until they met the seemingly unbeatable Los Angeles Dodgers in an Interleague series.
You can be sure THE KING OF UNDERDOGS is thinking about the Royals this weekend against the often-overpriced Boston Red Sox. But, I have a realistic view of what I believe is the ceiling for this Kansas City side.
*I'm aware that the eight-game win streak came against the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox, two teams who aren't in the playoff discussion. So, this "hot streak" was taking "candy-from-a-baby" rather than beating teams who mattered. If the streak runs to 11 straight after a sweep in Boston, THEN we'll talk.
*I'm aware that the starting rotation isn't very impressive. Maybe they can all improve down the stretch. But, when facing contenders who can score, the Royals will be in real trouble. It's very tough to sustain excellence over a couple of months without stellar frontline pitching.
*I'm aware that the offense lacks power at a time when power seems to trump everything else. That could be an issue that derails both the Royals and Red Sox in terms of winning playoff games (if they get to October). At least it will be less of an issue for bettors who want to take the Royals as a dog this weekend.
The great thing about Kansas City is that they give you effort. Effort can do well during the dog days of summer because so many teams lose that fire. Non-contenders go through the motions. Locked-in playoff teams pace themselves for games that will matter more later. The Miami Heat did this in the NBA last season. They looked like world-beaters for weeks, but that was because the rest of the world was disinterested or coasting.
So, I can see Kansas City as a value team in the right spots down the stretch. But, can they beat GOOD teams who are playing with a sense of urgency? On the ROAD? That's what I'll be studying this weekend. I don't expect them to beat out the Cleveland Indians for the AL Central title because the Indians are basically better than Kansas City at everything (starting pitching, bullpen, offense). Maybe the Royals will show me something this weekend that will change my thinking on that. They just scored 16 runs twice within a week against the Detroit Tigers. If Kansas City "found" an offense just lately...then they will become a much more dangerous threat. Can you beat out Cleveland without pitching?
One of the most difficult challenges for oddsmakers in the second half of any sports season involves properly accounting for the lack of motivation from some teams...and then properly evaluating the talent on other teams who have just bullied no-shows. This is true in college and pro football, college and pro basketball, and even Major League Baseball. This opens doors for smart bettors like you and me to drive in with a truck and get the money if we can make proper reads.
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I can't believe that we're now just days away from the start of the NFL Preseason. One of the hottest summers on record here in Las Vegas just flew by. The next time we're together I'll talk about handicapping exhibition games. That will get you ready for the Cowboys/Cardinals game in Canton, Ohio on Thursday night.
With baseball right in the sweet spot, and football ready to begin, it's time for YOU to go to W.A.R. alongside WAYNE ALLYN ROOT!