Royals Eager to Repeat World Series Title

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One year ago, the Royals arrived at Spring Training after losing Game Seven of the 2014 World Series to the San Francisco Giants. It was no secret that the loss served as fuel for the team’s smoldering desire for redemption that burned all season. Equipped with an All-Star defense and the game’s most domineering bullpen, the Royals blazed their path to the American League Central title, survived a close call against the Houston Astros, and won a second straight American League pennant against the Toronto Blue Jays. When pitcher Wade Davis recorded the final strike of the World Series in New York, redemption was complete.

Since 1980, thirty-four baseball teams have started spring with an opportunity to repeat as World Series Champions. Only three accomplished it: the New York Yankees (1999, 2000) and the Toronto Blue Jays (1992, 1993). Twenty of the thirty-four teams didn’t even make the playoffs, including the last three World Series Champions. Only four clubs made it back to the World Series. They all lost.

When the Royals arrived in Surprise, Ariz., they began their title defense, their quest to become just the fourth team since 1980 to repeat World Series titles, unconcerned with the level of expectations set by history. They looked like they were ready to do it all over again. In the first days of camp, Royals manager Ned Yost appeared to echo the very same sentiments.

“We want to win another World Championship,” Yost said. “We were ninety feet away from going for a three-peat this year. We’ve basically got the same crew.”

During the last month, a wave of predictions came pouring, all accompanied by fancy formulas and algorithms. Baseball Prospectus’ beloved PECOTA system predicted the defending champions to go 76-86 and finish last in the AL Central. Inside the clubhouse, some players laughed off the projections and other shrugged them off. When outfielder Jarrod Dyson spoke, he seemed to scoff at the idea of complacency among his teammates.

“You don’t play the game to win one,” Dyson said. “Jordan didn’t shut it down after winning one. Kobe didn’t shut it down after winning one. Why we gonna shut it down after winning one? We want to win as many as possible.”

It has been nearly four months since the World Series jubilation. However, the bitter end of the 2014 season still resonates with the team, as does the fact that the window of opportunity may be closing. A considerable portion of the Royals team is set to reach free agency at the end of the 2017 season. Mike Moustakas and center fielder Lorenzo Cain are in that group, as well as Eric Hosmer and Dyson. As Dyson put it, you never know how many runs you have left.

Now the reigning champions are back in Arizona for Spring Training, preparing to make yet another run at history, and ready to prove a league of doubters wrong. This group won’t be together forever, so the Royals are trying to take advantage while they still can.

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