17. Kansas City Royals (41–40, minus-27, LT: 21)
Please welcome back from the dead, your Kansas City Royals!
KC sat dead-last in the AL Central on May 7, dropping to 10–20 that day. Since then they’ve been one of the hottest teams in baseball, going 30–20, including a scorching 17–9 in June. They also play in a weak division, giving them a competitive edge over, say, AL East rivals thanks to the vagaries of unbalanced schedules. In an AL wild-card race that’s at once wide open, slightly bonkers, and holding the potential to crown an 86-win team, Royals fans can rightly ask, why not us?
All of this means that the trade deadline fire sale that seemed inevitable just a few weeks ago now looks like a long shot. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain are the pillars of the Royals team that had GM Dayton Moore telling people for years to trust the process ... until it finally, actually, improbably worked. Those four pending free agents, along with shocker staff ace Jason Vargas, now look almost certain to stay put.
The zombie Royals don’t look like they’re going away any time soon. If Moore’s process-trusting got him this far, it’s hard to see him changing that process now.