In a surprising twist, a rally in extra innings gave the Kansas City Royals a 7-2 win over the New York Mets on Sunday Nov. 1—and their first World Series title since 1985. The Royals took the series from the Mets 4-1, outscoring their opposition 27-19 through the five game series.
Utility man Christian Colon appeared in just 43 regular season games and was an unlikely hero for Kansas City in the late innings of Sunday night’s game. Colon singled home the tiebreaking run in the 12th inning, sparking a five-run rally for the Royals. While Kansas City’s championship does not come as a complete shock, the team's postseason dominance is a testament to baseball's uncertainty.
To peg the Royals as postseason underdogs would be revisionist history, but they weren't favorites either. Going into the postseason, they certainly weren't favored over the Toronto Blue Jays—a team whose extraordinary second half surge and potent offense led many to crown Toronto the team to beat. The Royals were able to handle them, however, in a 4-2 series win—outscoring the Blue Jays' dominant offense by 12 runs in all.
The Royals may have lacked dominant starting pitching and hitting, but they won with sound fundamentals. The team’s ability was greater than the sum of its parts. Combine elite relief pitching with consistent, above-average starting pitching, hitting and defense and you have a winning formula. It only took a few adjustments for the franchise to go from losing the 2014 World Series in seven games to winning it in five the following season.
The Royals unquestionably had to work hard for their victory. Their last win against the Mets was the team's eighth come-from-behind victory in 11 postseason wins. Then there's the plight of starting pitcher Edinson Volquez, who mourned the death of his father while he was asked to perform on baseball's biggest stage. For Volquez—who honored his father by inscribing his initials into the mound before his game five start—perhaps the victory was bittersweet.
For the team as a whole, however, now is a time to rejoice. The Royals will be presented with their championship rings on opening night of the 2016 regular season. Coincidentally, that game will be against the Mets.