Winning back to back championships in any sport is difficult. Stunning revelation there, I know, but given that winning one is hard (ask the Detroit Lions) it stands to reason that coming back the very next year and winning another one would be even more unlikely. So, here stand our Kansas City Royals, champions of the world and entering the 2016 season with back to back World Series appearances (which is kind of a feat in and of itself).
As most of you know, there has not been a repeat World Series Champion in this century and during that same arbitrary timeframe, only two teams have made it back to the World Series after winning it the year before. Have a look:
Only three defending champs have fallen off a cliff the next year, dropping anywhere from 18 to 26 wins from their championship regular season total. Conversely, only three champions have increased their regular season total and, not all that surprisingly, two of those three were the teams that did manage to make it back to the Series the year after winning it all.
Do you believe in cosmic tumblers and such? If so, baseball is due for a repeat champion. Do you believe in the odd roller-coaster that we refer to as the San Francisco Giants? Well, it is an even numbered year. Of course, we could use things like projections (gasp!), true talent levels and, I don’t know, a bit of common sense as well.
We know the projections don’t much care for the Royals and the discussion/outrage/analysis associated with that have been beaten into the ground the past week. Are the Royals better this year than last or did they overachieve in 2015?
To be honest, the Kansas City Royals coasted to a 95 win season in 2015 and hardly came out of nowhere to do so. They won 89 in 2014 and 86 games the year before that. This team has morphed around the edges and at the top of its starting rotation, but the Royals of 2013 are not all that different than the Royals of 2015 or, probably, 2016. If this year’s Royals conform to the norm of past champions they would seem far more likely to win 90 games than just 76.
Back to back championships? I’ve heard crazier things.