When Royals manager Ned Yost has an outfield of -- left to right -- Gordon, Dyson and Cain in the late innings, especially with all those hard-throwing relievers, the Royals are scary good.
"We're kind of bringing back old-school baseball," Dyson said. "People aren't used to seeing this."
The Royals were the best defensive team in baseball, finishing with MLB's highest ultimate zone rating (UZR), an advanced defensive metric that estimates each fielder's defensive ability vs. an average fielder at his position. The Orioles were second; the Giants 15th.
According to UZR, the Royals were first overall in outfield defense. Gordon was first in left. Cain and Dyson were first in center.
The defensive metrics speak volumes about the importance general manager Dayton Moore placed on defense when he put the Royals together.
Because Kauffman Stadium's outfield is so large, Moore believed defense had to be a priority.
Also, because the Royals might never have a top 10 payroll, he believed defense could make up for a lot of what the Royals didn't have.
The Royals hit 10 fewer home runs than any other team in baseball this season, but they were 16th in runs thanks to leading the Majors in steals and hitting .271 with runners in scoring position (fourth overall).
Their pitching staff was fourth in velocity, averaging 92.6 mph, and so with a defense that saved a ton of runs, and enough offense, the Royals found a formula that works.
"If you watch us practice, you see how hard we work at it," Dyson said. "When it comes to defense, we don't take any shortcuts. We definitely feed off each other. You want to catch every ball. You don't want anything to hit the ground.
The Royals have ridden that defense to within four victories of their first championship in 29 years. With the lights the brightest and the stage the largest, it has never been better.
"If we can get a glove on it, we've been making the play," Dyson said. "That's something special to have."
Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.