As recently as, like, Labor Day, the Kansas City Royals were just a rag-tag bunch of underachievers. Sure, the Royals had begun the surge that would net them a Wild Card spot, but even then it felt like a tease of youthful fervor. That's all Dayton Moore's Royals had ever been: a squad with youth, fervor, and promise.
On Labor Day, Mike Moustakas was a bust, Eric Hosmer had hit six home runs, and Brandon Finnegan was still digesting cheese sticks from the caf at TCU.
Tonight, the Royals host Game One of the World Series. Kansas City is 8-0 in the postseason, and hasn't lost since September 27. Moustakas is a hero, Hosmer too. And Finnegan still looks like he's pitching to college guys.
There probably is a way to quantify all this, an easy summation or formula or map, but it really just seems like things finally...worked out for Kansas City. Because behind the 8-0 playoff run, and the career upswings of Moustakas and Hosmer, and the utter bullpen domination, there has been a plan in the works for a while. For a long time, the Royals were rebuilding -- now, they are rebuilt.
Let's look at how every player on the 25-man World Series roster became #ROYAL.
Tim Collins - The lefty was traded from Atlanta with Jesse Chavez and current San Francisco Giant Gregor Blanco for Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth. Collins threw just 21 innings in the regular season, and has faced three batters this postseason.
Wade Davis - The "D" in "HDH" came over in the James Shields/Wil Myers deal. He had a somewhat ludicrous 0.84 WHIP in 72 regular season innings.
Danny Duffy - Kansas City's 2007 third round pick had a really strong regular season as a starter (2.53 ERA, 1.11 WHIP), but has made only one appearance in the playoffs. Is he hurt? Maybe. Could he throw some massive innings in the World Series? Also maybe.
Brandon Finnegan - The aforementioned cheese-stick-digesting (totally made that up) TCU pitcher really was pitching for TCU in the College World Series this summer. The Royals made him the 17th overall pick, and he's made an immediate impact in the playoffs.
Jason Frasor - Frasor was traded to Kansas City in July, when the Royals sent Spencer Patton to Texas. The 37 year-old reliever has thrown four shutout innings in his first-ever postseason.
Jeremy Guthrie - The former Indians first-round pick signed with the Royals in the 2012 offseason. Guthrie had a mediocre regular season, but made a nice start in Game Three of the ALCS.
Kelvin Herrera - Herrera signed as an amateur free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2006, and made his big league debut in 2011. He's been money out of the pen ever since. Ned Yost's seventh inning man has gotten a little sixth inning work, too, amassing 8.1 playoff innings -- in which he's struck out 10 and given up one run.
Greg Holland - Kansas City's 10th round pick in 2007 has made two straight American League All-Star teams. The closer has a near-identical line to Herrera's 2014 playoff run: 8 innings pitched, 10 strikeouts, one run allowed.
James Shields - Shields, as you may know, came over from Tampa Bay in a much-LOL'd deal for Wil Myers. He starts Game One tonight.
Jason Vargas - Vargas inked with KC in the 2013 offseason, and has made two great starts in the postseason.
Yordano Ventura - The young pitcher from the Dominican Republic signed with Kansas City in 2008. Ventura has sandwiched a stellar postseason start with two ugly outings. You don't have a whole lot of room for "ugly outings" in the World Series.
Salvador Perez - Perez signed as an amateur free agent out of Venezuela in 2006. He's looked at as among the best catchers in the game, and got the stunning hit that defeated the A's in the Wild Card game, starting all this madness.
Eric Hosmer - Hosmer was the third overall pick in 2008. He was supposed to be a power-hitting star. He hit 9 homers all year. He's hit two in the playoffs, with an OPS of 1.314.
Omar Infante - Kansas City's second baseman signed a 4 year/$30.25 million deal in the 2013 offseason, and he's been predictably solid throughout the year.
Alcides Escobar - Escobar, Kansas City's leadoff hitter, arrived in the 2010 Zack Greinke trade. He played in all 162 Royal games this year, swiping 31 bases.
Mike Moustakas - Moustakas was a moose-sized letdown. The 2nd pick of the 2007 draft hit .212 this season, and slugged .361. And no one will remember that. Because Moustakas has also hit four home runs in Kansas City's eight playoff games.
Alex Gordon - Like they say, good things come to those who (are bad and) wait. The Royals took Gordon second overall in 2005 and waited for him to become a star. He's been exceptional for a while now, only people don't notice it, because they wrote him off as a bust too early. Gordon has driven in nine in eight KC postseason games.
Lorenzo Cain - Also gained in the Greinke trade, Cain has crushed the ball in the playoffs. That after hitting .301/.339/.412 in the regular season. He also very nearly caused Ernie Johnson to dip his own fingers in gold and give him a Gold Glove live on TBS.
Nori Aoki - Swapped for Will Smith in the offseason, Aoki was a smart offseason addition by Dayton Moore.
Billy Butler - Butler came to Kansas City as 2004's 14th overall pick. The former 29-homer DH hit only 9 this year as a part of KC's year-long homer strike, but has had some XL-sized hits in the postseason.
Erik Kratz - Came to Kansas City with Liam Hendricks in a July trade that sent Danny Valencia to Toronto. The Royals would like it if Kratz never has to catch in the Fall Classic.
Jayson Nix - Claimed off waivers on August 28, Nix has barely been #ROYAL for long enough to learn the Lorde song. But he's a valuable utility infielder, and, well, with the way some of these extra inning games have been going...
Jarrod Dyson - The Royals picked Dyson in the 50th (!) round of the 2006 draft. He's been a regular contributor in KC for several seasons now, and will surely test Buster Posey's arm at some point this series.
Terrance Gore - Kansas City selected Gore in the 20th round in 2011. He made his MLB debut on August 31, just in time to qualify to run the bases in the playoffs -- the 5'7" outfielder has five steals already.
Josh Willingham - The retiring Willingham gets one last go at it, having been traded from Minnesota to Kansas City before the waiver deadline. In his first playoff appearance of his 11-year career, Willingham has gone 1-2. Expect him to take some big cuts as a pinch hitter in San Francisco.