The 2016 season is over. The Royals didn’t make the playoffs, but it was still an exciting year.
It’s important first to put things in perspective for upset fans. Since 2000 the Royals have finished four seasons with a winning record, 2003, 2013, 2014, and 2015. This year they wrapped up the season with 81 wins and 81 loses.
The games this year were exciting, and every victory felt significant. It may have been the Salvy splash, which in this writer’s opinion, marked the official end of a game.
Everyone knew who was going to get doused with the bucket after the game. The only surprise was when Salvador Perez decided to get a teammate twice to emphasize his congratulations.
The Royals finished more than 5 games out of the wildcard race and more than two handfuls behind the American League Central division winner, the Cleveland Indians.
Yet people were still wearing their Royals gear, even after being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. This winter you will surely see someone wearing a Royals ball cap. Kansas City is endeared to the team. They brought home two American League Pennants and a World Championship.
Through 81 games this year more than 2.5 million fans turned out. It was the second highest attendance in Royals history.
Of course, it would have been nice to see the city paint itself blue for October. The t-shirt sellers will miss this good business. Last year they were constantly sold out of the latest victory announcement to display across your chest.
One of the things that caught up to the team this year was player health. It wasn’t an issue the past two seasons, which is a very fortunate thing.
The next question that many will ask is who are the free agents in 2017?
Edinson Volquez, Kendrys Morales, Luke Hochevar, Kris Medlen, Drew Butera, and Peter Moylan.
In 2018 there will be 12 more free agents. Most notably Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Wade Davis, Alcides Excobar, Danny Duffy and Jarrod Dyson.
Last year the team lost Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto, but many of the homegrown heroes stuck around.
What are we missing by not going to the playoffs?
October is the most exciting time for baseball. That’s where the Royals defeated the Oakland Athletics, 9-8, in 12 innings to win the 2014 wildcard game. The Royals were down the majority of the game and tied it in the 9th to send it to extra innings. It’s still a fun one to re-watch on youtube.
Last October the Royals were down by 4 runs in the 7th inning during game 4 of the 2015 American League Division Series. The Governor of Texas prematurely congratulated the Houston Astros and it was a goof on his part – the Royals scored 7 runs in the 8th and 9th inning and then went on to clinch game 5.
The Royals are a team that has been down and out before, so not making it to the playoffs isn’t new. The mistake is in believing that there is no such thing as them coming back.