A Bunch Of Things That Were Different The Last Time The Royals Made The Playoffs In 1985
We're as shocked as anyone that the Royals are in the playoffs after 29 years of sitting on the couch during the month of October. As is becoming tradition for dudes on surprising playoff teams, Salvador Perez gave each of his teammates a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label to commemorate the occasion (Neil Walker of the Pirates did it last year). That's the good stuff.
Quote from Salvador Pérez: "This team has worked hard to get to where we are today. We never let 'the drought' define us. We looked at each game as the next step in our journey to re-write history and make the playoffs. To clinch a playoff berth for the first time in 29 years is a great accomplishment, for the Royals and the city, and I'm proud to be a part of it. But this is hopefully just the first step and ‘we need to keep walking'. So I decided to give each of my teammates a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label to remind us just that."
Along with the presser for the giveaway, we got a list of cool facts written by Joe Sheehan about the last time the Royals were in the postseason, back in 1985. And it's actual baseball-related stuff too -- not, like, "Madonna was cool."
Check it out:
• The Kansas City Royals are headed back to the baseball playoffs for the first time in 29 years -- since the 1985 team won the AL West and went on to the franchise's only World Series. The Royals have snared a playoff spot that didn't exist in '85 – the wild card – while playing in a division, the AL Central, that didn't exist in '85. Their first playoff game will be broadcast on a network, TBS, which was mostly airing Braves and sitcom reruns in '85. Should they make the World Series, they'll be on FOX, which didn't exist in '85. It's appropriate, because most of the Royals themselves didn't exist in 1985 – just a third of the players likely to make the postseason roster were on the planet when the Royals won the '85 World Series.
• Other things that didn't exist in 1985: five current MLB teams, 24 current MLB ballparks, your e-mail address, Jennifer Lawrence, Ariana Grande, any version of "Law and Order", and a whole bunch of sovereign nations including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, and Croatia. On the other hand, you had the pop stylings of Dire Straits, who had the #1 single, "Money For Nothing," when the Royals last played a postseason game. It was the end of the summer of Madonna, whose "Like A Virgin" album pumped out top-ten hits throughout the year. Ah-thuh commanded our attention with "Commando," #1 at the box office 29 years ago. Maybe you watched baseball six days a week, but on Thursday nights, you were watching NBC, whose lineup of "The Cosby Show", "Family Ties" and "Cheers" dominated television.
• Then again, the Royals are playing a style of baseball last seen in 1985. They're last in the AL in both home runs and walks, and no team has finished last in both those categories and gone on to reach the postseason. They've struck out just 941 times, far and away the lowest mark in MLB. That '85 title team struck out 840 times – despite the MLB strikeout rate being 50% higher than it was in '85, this team has whiffed just a bit more often than that one did.
• Like this team, that '85 team was built upon a young pitching staff with some exciting homegrown starters. The 1985 Royals used seven starting pitchers all season, and not one was more than 28 years old. The Danny Duffy and Yordano Ventura of the Cosby Era? Those were Bret Saberhagen (21) and Danny Jackson (23), a homegrown righty/lefty combination who combined for 34 wins in the regular season and four of the Royals' eight victories in October. How has baseball changed? Well, the 1985 pair threw well over 200 innings apiece, 443 in total. Duffy and Ventura, each two years older than his '85 counterpart, have thrown just 326 – about a fourth less. Game done changed.
• The relievers are worked just a bit differently as well. Those '85 Royals had one of the best relievers of all time in sidearming, Dan Quisenberry. The Quiz, enormously popular, submarined his way to 37 saves in 129 innings pitched. The 2014 Royals' top two relievers, Wade Davis and Greg Holland, have combined for just 140 innings! Those Royals went through the year using just 14 pitchers all told, just eight for 40 or more innings. These Royals have used 23 hurlers, ten for at least 40 innings.
• One thing that hasn't changed is the Royals' ability to shut down the running game. At a time when teams stole more bases than they did today, veteran catcher Jim Sundberg allowed just 85 attempts in his 960 frames behind the plate, and caught a third of the runners who tried to steal on him. Salvador Perez, in just his second full season in the majors, does even better: just 80 runners have tried to go on Perez, 30% of those have been caught. Perez leads all MLB catchers in workload, with more than 1200 innings caught, while ranking just 18th in steals allowed and allowing the fewest attempts of any catcher with at least 1000 innings behind the plate. Keep walking, because you aren't going to run on Perez.
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