I have a friend who’s obsessed with music, but not in a mainstream way per se. He’s constantly on his computer listening and researching, a hobby that has grown into a passion project to find the next Mumford & Sons years before the rest of us do. It’s easy to see why. There’s something about being a fan of something before it’s cool and mainstream to do so.
So, in the fourth hour of the Kansas City Royals’ Opening Day game against the Texas Rangers, I found myself thinking not “Why am I still watching?” but “The Royals are pretty entertaining.”
Apologies to diehard Kansas City fans, but I’m going to jump on that bandwagon now. Who else could make the list now? Sure, the Orioles and Pirates may be good someday, but to me, this is about pure watchability now, not in a few years.
Here are my three most entertaining non-contending teams, not to be confused with fringe clubs who could stumble into a wild-card berth. All of these teams started the season with less than a 15 percent chance to make the playoffs, meaning a lot has to go right for them (and wrong elsewhere) to sniff the postseason.
Kansas City Royals
2020 record: 26-34
Last playoff appearance: 2015
2021 PECOTA preseason projection: 71-91
Why are we watching? Royals general manager Dayton Moore said they “expect” to win this year, and while he’s as effervescently positive as the TV character Ted Lasso, it’s not just lip service. The Royals spent in the top half of baseball on free agents this year, locked up Salvador Pérez to a four-year extension and added veterans Carlos Santana and Andrew Benintendi to a lineup that has struggled to score runs. Their defense could also be a real strength. Sure, the Royals aren’t ready to compete with the Chicago White Sox or Minnesota Twins yet, but there’s plenty to like about them.