Anyone who saw or read Moneyball is familiar with the mantra that on-base percentage equates with winning. Well, no Royal has been on base like Ben Zobrist since he came to the Kansas City Royals from Oakland, the Moneyball mecca, and along the way a first-place Royals club has won at an even greater pace.
The Royals were 61-39 (.610 winning percentage) before the second baseman/outfielder joined the lineup July 30. They've gone 19-11 since, a .633 clip. Over those 30 games (one of which he sat out), Zobrist has a .414 on-base percentage, 22 points better than designated hitter Kendrys Morales' OBP during that span and tied for 12th in the majors.
Zobrist has gotten on base 53 times in his first 29 games with the Royals, one of the best marks by an American League player to arrive via a midseason trade in the last 10 seasons.
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With a win this week, the Royals can guarantee themselves a record of .500 or better for the third consecutive season. It would be just the third time in franchise history the team has been .500 or better in three straight seasons.
After playing in Tampa over the weekend, the Royals return to Kauffman Stadium to host the Detroit Tigers in a three-game set starting tonight. The Royals have won eight consecutive series at home, the longest active streak in Major League Baseball and tied for the third-longest streak in franchise history. Their 16 home series won in 2015 rank among the best seasons in Royals annals.
The Tigers limp into The K in last place in the AL Central, 20 games behind KC. But Detroit has three one-run wins against the Royals in 2015, and their 22 one-run wins against Kansas City over the last five seasons are tied for second most in any MLB matchup.
The Tigers could become the fifth team in the Wild Card era to finish in the top three of MLB in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage -- but miss the playoffs.
Ace Johnny Cueto starts the opener for the Royals. He'll go after the Tigers with one of the best fastballs in the bigs. Opponents have the lowest batting average and slugging percentage against it.