When the Kansas City Royals won the American League in 2014, it did more than just end a 29 year drought of futility. It caused a bit of a wave. Teams and fans were forced to take notice that the team that had long stood as the punching bag was now in the position they themselves longed to be in. Being in the World Series is an incredible feat that puts the contestants in full view of the entire nation. And when you shine brightly on the national stage, the nation begins to take notice.
MLB.com released the first update of the All-Star ballot poll and, amazingly, five Royals would be starting the game if voting ended today.
That’s right, you read that correct. Half of the starting lineup would be from the lowly Royals.
Catcher Salvador Perez is the top overall vote-getter of EVERYONE with 1,447,753 votes. Second overall? Royals centerfielder Lorenzo Cain. They currently have more votes than Mike Trout.
Of course, as always, with All-Star voting, this must be taken with a grain of salt. It is typically nothing more than a popularity contest and a display of which teams market the vote the best, but it cant be disputed that this is certainly new territory for Royals fans.
After all…are we not usually the fanbase forced to COMPLAIN about the “popularity” aspect instead of reaping the rewards? With players such as Derek Jeter beating out Alcides Escobar (who currently leads in SS voting), fans have always had a legitimate gripe that sometimes the best player at a position REALLY WAS playing in Kansas City, but was lost outside the bright lights of places like New York or LA.
For once, the shoe is on the other foot.
Only nine Royals have ever started an All-Star game. If voting ending today, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Cain, Escobar and Perez would all be on the field under the direction of skipper Ned Yost, who will be directing the bunting plays at this years All Star Game.
What does this say about us, Royals fans? Kansas City is the No. 27 market in baseball, yet, five Royals lead fan voting. Two more – Eric Hosmer, who’s 1,102,378 votes are already more than last year’s total and just 245,613 behind Miguel Cabrera at first base and Kendrys Morales (918,606), 307,206 votes behind Nelson Cruz – are in second place. Sure, there’s some ballot stuffing here in KC, but it also means that the Royals caught the nation’s attention last October and with their roaring start this season.
“Fans got to know us in October,” Gordon said. “And they got to know us for fighting this year. Lots of TV.”
If Cabrera were to win the fan and player vote, Hosmer would automatically qualify by being second place in the fan vote. Wade Davis has pitched 19 scoreless innings in relief, so it would stand to reason if ANY reliever would be called on to represent the AL, Wade would certainly be a prime candidate. Other under consideration, as of right now, would be starting pitchers Chris Young and Edinson Volquez. Do the Royals really have 10 legit All-Star candidates? Wow.
Eight of nine Royals are in the Top 2 in fan voting. EIGHT. The one we haven’t mentioned yet is someone who shouldn’t be sniffing All-Star consideration, Omar Infante. He’s only 364,886 votes behind Jose Altuve at second base. Alex Rios (629,119) is in the same boat. He’s No. 6 among all outfielders – 362,487 behind Gordon for the final outfield spot.
What’s more surprising? Perez as the top vote getter, he and Cain (who isn’t even the best outfielder on the team) with more votes than Mike Trout, Infante No. 2 a 2B or Rios No. 6 in outfield despite playing in just seven games (hey, they were 7-0), Moustakas tops among third basemen or Hosmer a close second to Cabrera?
It’s nuts. Royals fans are out in front and I’m curious if it holds. Problem is, if big markets awaken, it may go down. A million and a half votes isn’t many for the larger markets who have four-five times the population.
Maybe, though, the Royals are America’s darling?
This just isn’t a cow town, or fly over country. Maybe, America is taking notice?
Sports Illustrated has:
It’s the fifth SI Royals Cover in the last two seasons.
Maybe the only thing they really needed was a dose of confidence and a little recognition. Make sure you vote Royals fans!
Follow us on Twitter: @KCSportsNation
Like us on Facebook