Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: There’s nothing conventional about the 2015 Royals

Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas had 22 home runs during the regular season, tying Kendrys Morales for the team lead.
Kansas City third baseman Mike Moustakas had 22 home runs during the regular season, tying Kendrys Morales for the team lead. Kansas City Star

Mike Moustakas and Kendry Morales led the Kansas City Royals this season with 22 homers apiece.

On the pitching mound, Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura each won 13 games to lead Kansas City.

You know the last time a team won a World Series without a 25-home run guy or a 15-game winner?

Try never. As in it’s never happened, not in a World Series that concluded a regular season uninterrupted by a work stoppage. And the World Series has been played every year since 1903, except for two years in 1904 and 1994.

The 1981 world-champion Los Angeles Dodgers failed to produce a hitter with 25 homers of a pitcher with 15 wins. But the Dodgers played only 110 games in that strike-shortened season. Ron Cey led LA with 13 homers while Fernando Valenzuela won 13 games, as many as Volquez and Ventura won with a full slate of games this season.

What does this accomplishment/oddity/once-in-forever statistic say about the 2015 Royals, who are up 1-0 on the New York Mets in the World Series after a dramatic 5-4, 14-inning win Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium?

It says this is one of the most balanced teams in history. It says there might not be a megastar on the Royals’ roster, but that there are a bunch of guys pulling together for the common good. It says the Royals, unlike 99.9 percent of teams in baseball history, don’t have a weak link.

They don’t need a big bopper to win. They don’t need an ace. They have balance, depth, chemistry, heart and, for all in the sabermetrics crowd, they stack up well in alalytics, especially when it comes to putting balls in play and taking one tough at-bat after another.

The Royals, though, can’t be measured by a computer. There are too many variables, too many intangibles. Kansas City has come from behind to win five games in this postseason, which shows an uncanny resolve.

It’s no wonder this team is not only such a hit with the hometown crowd, but also becoming a national sensation.

Baseball fans are familiar now with the Royals, making their second straight appearance in the World Series. We love sports partly because of the drama it produces, and the Royals are a dramatic, never-say-die team.

This team does not follow convention, and it’s refreshing.

Winners of the 110 World Series before this year produced 134 players who hit 25 or more home runs and 270 pitchers who won 15 or more games.

That’s how it’s always been done. A team needs stars with big stats. Or so we thought.

The Royals don’t have players with big stats. But they have a lot of players who can fill a stat sheet, who excel in all facets of the game and who defy what we’ve all thought was normal.

In 1990, the world-champion Cincinnati Reds were led in home runs by third baseman Chris Sabo, who hit 25. And their top winner was Tom Browning, with 15.

In 1982, George Hendrick led the St. Louis Cardinals with only 19 homers. And St. Louis, which beat Milwaukee to win the World Series, had two 15-game winners in Joaquin Andujar and Bob Forsch.

So there have been a sprinkling of championship teams that struggle to produce players with big stats.

Nothing like the Royals, though. This is a team that got to 95 wins in the regular season without a player with more than 22 homers or a pitcher with more than 13 wins.

It’s remarkable.

It’s the Royals.