Originally posted on Fox Sports Kansas City  |  Last updated 5/20/13
KANSAS CITY, Mo. We asked history. History shrugged. Actually, it shrugged, threw up its hands, grabbed a soda, and went back to playing Minecraft. History cant help us here. All we know is that we dont stinking know. Not after 40 games. Not where the Kansas City Royals are concerned. At the quarter-pole mark of the Big 162 40 games the Royals are 20-20. Theres some sound, a little fury, but in the big picture, it signifies pretty much nothing. Its like an episode of Seinfeld, only Rex Hudler is Cosmo Kramers new roommate, and hilarity ensues. For the men in blue, thats the quarter-pole mark, in a nutshell, over the past quarter century. First, the good news: Despite an antacid-inducing weekend in Oakland, this just the 11th time over the past 26 years that the Royals have posted a record of .500 or better after 40 games. Which is groovy. That is, of course, until you read the fine print. Of the previous 10 instances between 1988-2012, five of those quarter-pole starts eventually led to a season that was .500 or better. And five, um, didnt. In fact, the only thing we can say with at least a shred of certainty based on precedent is that it beats the Doc McStuffins out of the alternative. Because when the Royals had a losing record after 40 games between 88-12, of those 15 sub-.500 ledgers, 14 of them, once the dust had finally settled, amounted to a losing campaign. So good is good, bad is bad, and early is still well, early. The truth is somewhere in the middle. Or none of the above. After 40 games, the Royals are four games back of first, two games ahead of the basement, and standing before another fork on another open road. Seventy-five percent of this particular story has yet to be written. And a week out from Memorial Day, a 50-50 shot at glory trumps no shot at all. Unless youd rather trade cleats with the Astros (12-32), this evenings dance partner, or the Marlins (12-32). Thats what we thought. A year ago at this time, the Royals were 16-24, 6.5 games out, and about to descend into the fourth circle of elbow-surgery hell. Better the enigma you know than the enigma you dont. Offenses slump. Offenses fluctuate. Healthy rotations dont. According to Fangraphs.com, the Royals starting pitching ranks fourth in the American League in collective ERA (3.72); fourth in fewest walks per nine innings (2.48); sixth in Walks Hits per Inning Pitched (WHIP, 1.27); and sixth in Wins Above Replacement (WAR, 4.6). As stars go, thats the one to hitch your wagon to. Sixteen games remain versus the Twins, forever teetering between middling and unexceptional. And 13 more remain with the White Sox, who are worse. Over his career, Jeff Francoeur, Americas Sabermetric pin-cushion, has hit 19 points higher and added 74 points to his OPS after the All-Star break. Those pulling their hairs out over Mike Moustakas .563 OPS have forgot The Lesson Of Alex Gordon: In his third season in The Show, in the summer of 09, the former first-round pick slumped to .232 batting average and was widely tagged as a bust. Since April 2011, hes hit. 304 and won two Gold Gloves in left field. On May 20, the sample size is still relatively short. The journey ahead is long. Long and winding. To put it another way, in NFL terms, the Royals are 2-2. Two up and two down in a world where 9-7 gets you in the Wild Card conversation, worst-case. Since 2003, of the 41 teams positioned for a playoff berth in the American League on May 20, almost two-thirds of them 27 were actually there at the end. But 14 clubs, the other third of that pool, fell off. And history keeps on shrugging, because lot can happen over four months and change. More context: The Royals have posted a .500 record or better on May 20 just seven times between 88-12. Of those seven teams, four 57. 1 percent wound up with a wining record at the final gun. The old chestnut says those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Although, in this case, that might not turn out to be such a bad deal after all. You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com
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