Kansas City Royals featured on this week's Sports Illustrated cover

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The Kansas City Royals and designated hitter Billy Butler, featured on one of this week's regional covers for Sports Illustrated, own baseball’s longest postseason drought, a nearly 30-year wait for a team that has two winning seasons in the past 12 years. But the times seem to be changing in the Midwest. 

Kansas City is no doubt the surprise of this season, as the team is sitting in first place with less than 40 games to go in the regular season. The Royals can credit their once-dormant offense and steady pitching staff for the turnaround. The team’s ERA is fourth in the American League, and since August, they have more hits than anyone, have scored more runs and have hit .284 as a team, also tops in the majors.

They also have a chance to put away the Detroit Tigers, who have owned the American League Central for most the season. Six more contests remain between the two squads, plus 16 against teams that are currently in last place. 

“It’s been a long time,” Royals general manager Dayton Moore said. “It’s been a challenging road. But our people have stayed consistent with the plan.”  

For more on the Royals, check out Ben Reiter’s piece in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated (subscribe here).

2014 Sports Illustrated Covers