After 5% of the Season the Royals Offense is Historically Bad – Not so Fast!

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The Royals through eight games

So nearly 5% of the season is done. Can we safely assume that the Royals are an 81-win team based on their 4-4 record? Not so fast!

In eight games their offence has scored an anemic 27 runs (3.4/game). Can we project them to score only 547 runs (a terrible total, but more than the 2010 Seattle Mariners scored)? No, I do not think so.

They have 1 home run (a wind aided Alex Gordon ball). Can we project they will hit 20 for the year? Absolutely not.

In eight games their pitching and fielding have combined to allow only 25 runs (3.1/game). Can we project them to allow only 506 runs? No.

They have 7 quality starts. Can we project 142 quality starts? Certainly not.

Through eight games the Royals are an extreme team. Like the 1906 White Sox or the 1968 Cleveland Indians they do not score runs and do not give them up.

Why can’t we project these things will continue as they have so far?

One word: regression. All things tend to regress toward a mean or average. When a player (we’ll call him Emilio Bonifacio) starts a year with 11 hits in 3 games spanning 16 at bats, we know we can’t project him to hit .688. I heard some folks honestly saying that they thought this would mean he would hit .300 for the year. Now, that could happen, but I’d say it’s unlikely as his career average is .267. So the odds based on his fast start would be better than the 10% I would have said before the season began, but now they might be 15%.

Bruce Chen has started the year with a 1.42 ERA. This does not mean he is Clayton Kershaw (even with his odd strikeout rate of 9.9/9IP – did he strike out Adam Dunn four times? Heck, he didn’t even get to face Dunn). He will regress.

Likewise, Moose and Butler. Moose should regress to the below average hitter he has always been; Butler should regress to the above average hitter who still hits into too many DPs.

But, you ask, what about change in ability? Good question. There is another reason things regress. Let’s say that Moose has just lost it. This happens in baseball. How can I say there will be regression under these circumstances? Well, the team will cause regression by cutting Moose’s playing time in favor of Valencia and later in the year perhaps also by Cheslor Cuthbert or Hunter Dozier or by someone that is not currently in the organization. Teams try to create regression for players who are well below their means.

For a player who is over his level: the pitchers (or hitters) adjust to the newfound ability and gradually find ways to counter. Baseball is in every way a game of continuous adjustment and adaptation… Maybe it is the game for the devotees of natural selection.

So never fear – if you thought the Royals would score 685 runs – you’re probably still going to be pretty close. If you thought they’d give up 660 runs – you’re probably still pretty close. If you thought they’d win 83 you’re probably pretty close. This is not the time to run out and lay all your money on the Seattle Mariners.

 

 

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Author: Charles Winters

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