Time will tell, but layoff shouldn't hinder Royals

Time will tell, but layoff shouldn't hinder Royals

The story of the 2014 playoffs -- at least on the American League side of things -- has been the utter dominance of the Royals. They've won eight straight games to open the postseason, the first team ever to do so, and they're just the second team in the Wild Card era without a single playoff loss en route to the World Series.

But might the Royals be a victim of their own October success, having swept the AL Championship Series? Will their quick work of the Orioles come back to haunt them in the form of a five-day layoff before Tuesday's Game 1 (7:30 p.m. ET airtime/8:07 ET first pitch, FOX) against the Giants?

In short, history tells us no. Thirteen teams have endured a layoff of five days or more after the LCS, and seven of them have gone on to win the World Series.

  Date     Recaps Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 21     SF 7, KC 1 video
Gm 2 Oct. 22     KC 7, SF 2 video
Gm 3 Oct. 24     KC 3, SF 2 video
Gm 4 Oct. 25     SF 11, KC 4 video
Gm 5 Oct. 26     SF 5, KC 0 video
Gm 6 Oct. 28     KC 10, SF 0 video
Gm 7 Oct. 29     SF 3, KC 2 video

Here are some critical facts and figures about dealing with a long layoff heading into the World Series:

• The first team to play Game 1 of the World Series on five days of rest was the Oakland A's, who did so each year from 1988-90, winning the title in '89. From 1991-2005, six teams had layoffs of five days or more, and all six went on to win the World Series (including the 1991 Twins, the '95 Braves, the '96 Yankees, the 2001 D-backs, the '02 Angels and the '05 White Sox).

• More recently, however, since 2006, five teams have had long layoffs entering the World Series. Only one -- the 2008 Phillies -- went on to win it all. The '06 and '12 Tigers, '07 Rockies and '09 Phillies all went on to lose the World Series, and among those teams, only the '09 Phillies managed to win Game 1 and send the series to at least six games.

• Overall, teams are 6-7 in Game 1 of the World Series after a wait of at least five days, and when those teams are facing an opponent with two days of rest or fewer, they're 4-5. But the Royals will be facing the Giants, who will be on four-days rest themselves. The nine days off between the two clubs are tied for the second most ever, with only the 2007 Red Sox (two days) and Rockies (eight days) combining for more.

• Understandably, these Royals have drawn plenty of comparisons to the 2007 Rockies -- the only other team in history to sweep the Division and Championship Series in the same season. Of course, those Rockies were soon swept away by the Red Sox. But Colorado began that World Series after an MLB-record eight-day layoff between series. Because of Monday's postponement and Major League Baseball's removal of two off-days in the schedule in recent years, the Royals' wait time will be reduced by three days.

• Perhaps a more apt comparison would be to measure the Royals against the eight other teams to enter the World Series riding a string of five off-days. Those teams went on to win five of eight Fall Classics, including four of the most recent five. The 2012 Tigers were swept by the Giants, but the '05 White Sox, '02 Angels, '01 D-backs and '91 Twins all won their respective series.

• Obviously, the days of rest we're discussing apply to the team as a whole. But what about starting pitching? When James Shields takes the ball for Game 1, he'll do so on 10 days of rest. The Rockies' Jeff Francis is the only pitcher in history to start Game 1 of the World Series with more than 10 days of rest between postseason starts. Francis was shelled to the tune of six earned runs on 10 hits and three walks in four innings in 2007. The Cardinals' Adam Wainwright started the 2013 World Series on eight days of rest, and he allowed five runs in five innings. Detroit's Justin Verlander opened the 2006 and '12 World Series on seven and eight days of rest, respectively, and he struggled mightily, losing both starts with a combined 11.00 ERA.

• In the Wild Card era, 35 pitchers have made a World Series start on 10 or more days of rest. The results aren't pretty. Those pitchers are 10-14 with a 4.09 ERA, and they're 4-12 with a 4.13 ERA in the past 10 postseasons. It's worth noting that Royals manager Ned Yost had the option to start Shields on Wednesday on normal rest, setting him up for five days off before Game 1. He chose to go with Jason Vargas instead.

• One of the more common perceptions of teams working on long layoffs is that they tend to come out rusty, defensively. There may be some truth to that. Nine of the 13 teams with a layoff of five days or more committed an error in Game 1 of the World Series, and the 2006 Tigers infamously committed three. Of course, these are the 2014 Royals we're talking about, who have committed just two errors all postseason amid a general run of outstanding glovework.

AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.