Royals General Manager Dayton Moore always says you can start to assess a team at the 40-game mark. At that point, the Royals, had one of the worst offenses in baseball and the fifth-worst record in baseball. Ten games (4-6) later, Memorial Day has come and gone, and not much has changed for the Royals. They’re offense is still one of the worst in baseball and owners of the AL’s worst record (22-30).
Winners in just 21 of their first 50 games, the Royals .420 win percentage paces out to a 68-94 season. Not good and a far cry for what we thought was potentially possible in this the final year of the “window.” Add in that Danny Duffy just hit the DL, and it’s probably time to admit that’s it’s not going to happen this season, and, to quote a friend, it’s “time to put some players in the front yard and see who pulls over.”
Even the most optimistic of optimist would have a problem shining this turn so far. Something they could say is the Royals have a winning record (21-20) if you take away the 9-game losing streak, and are 14-13 (.519) since. That said, they’re 6.5 games out and have the third-worst run differential (-53) in baseball (worst in AL), have to go 23-14 to reach .500 by the All-Star break. To meet our 85-77 prediction the Royals would have to go 64-48 over the final 112 games – a .571win percentage, which would be a 93-win pace over the course of a full season. Do you see that in this team? However, the 21-20 (.525) mark paces out to 85 over 162 games. The 14-13 stretch since falling to 7-16 after the 9-game losing streak equals an 84-win season. Or, if you wanted to go with their record since hitting their low mark 10 games below .500 (10-20), they’re 11-9. The .550 win percentage is good for 89 wins over a full season. But, you can’t take away the 9-game losing streak. And, the Royals are going to have to better than a couple 4-game win streaks or winning 6 of 7 to make up for it – whether it’s a long winning streak, OR a very good month. They’ll have to be better than the slightly better than .500 stretches they have had this season. I’ll ask again…do you see that in this group?
Offensively, what the Royals did in April was…abysmal and down right embarrassing, and the major reason they’re where they are at now, as it was bad (ranking last in runs (2.7), and hitting (.210/.270/.336) and OPS .605) that the the second best rotation ERA couldn’t even save it. The 63 runs in their first 23 games tied for a franchise record (worst). They have been better in May: .246/.309/.410 (21st/27th/21st), good for a .719 OPS (26th) and are in the top half of the league in DONGTOWN visits (34). As a result, the Royals have an uptick in offensive production (4.0), and a winning record this month, but, despite the improvement, they’re overall still bad, ranking 28th in all three slash areas (.230/.291/.376) and OPS (.667) – dead last in the American League in all four and their 3.44 runs per game ranks last in all of baseball. That’s how BAD they were in April.
One of the underlying themes all season has been hitting with runners in scoring position, where the Royals are worst in baseball. Do you see a common theme?
We predicted the Royals would hit a club-record 198 HR. Currently, with 58 HR in 50 games (1.16 a game) – aided by a recent power surge, where they have hit 19 HR in the last 10 games, the Royals are pacing out for a would-be club-record of 188 DONGS.
Moore and Manager Ned Yost wanted more power, and they’ve got it. No way they could have predicted the “keep the line moving” offense would struggle this bad, but without the long ball, the Royals offense would be dreadful. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have these HR during the “keep the line moving stage?”
On the mound, it has been an up and down season. The bullpen was a hot mess to open the season, then evened out, while the rotation was sick, before falling back to Earth (now 9th best ERA at 4.10).
Overall, the Royals rank in the bottom half of the league in almost everything meaningful: 17th in OPS (.737), 18th in opponents average (.257), 21st in ERA (4.39), 22nd in WHIP (1.39), 24th in K/BB (2.18), ranking just above the middle in K/9 (8.03) at 14th.
If you break it down by unit, the rotation, in addition to having the 9th best ERA in baseball, also ranks 10th in OPS (.733), 11th in quality starts (24), while being the fourth best at limiting the long ball (36) and ranking in the middle-of-the-pack in nearly everything else. They’ve been OK, but with the ace expected to be out out nearly two months and surprise story Jason Vargas, who allowed one earned run or less in seven of his first eight and ranks third in the AL in wins (5) and fourth in ERA (2.39), starts regressing to the mean (1-2, 11 ER in 15.2 IP), Ian Kennedy riding the struggle bus over his last two starts since returning from the DL (9 ER in 7 IP) and Jason Hammel continuing to be, uh not good (1-6, 6.18 ERA 1.71 WHIP; team 1-9 in his 10 starts), I expect this unit to continue a slow fall. As for the bullpen, outside of Kelvin Herrera (1- with a ballooned 3.86 ERA thanks to 5 HR allowed, 1.24 WHIP, 22/4 K/BB ratio and ranking sixth in the AL in saves with 11), Joakim Soria (10th in AL in holds (8), 3.18 ERA, a K rate over 11.0 for only the third time in his career) – who yes blew ass last night (4 runs without getting an out, ballooning ERA from 1.59 and WHIP to 1.46), but has allowed a run in just three of 23 outings and Mike Minor (2-1, 2.30 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 4 holds, 29/7 K/BB in 27.1 IP), who also sucked it up last night (1st HR – a 3-run shot – allowed in 2017), the bullpen has been absolutely terrible. With those three included, they rank 25th in ERA (4.86), 26th in K/BB (1.98), 28th in WHIP (1.47), have the seventh most bullpen losses (10) and seventh worst opponents AVG (.259), rank in bottom third in OPS (.744) and save percentage (57.9%).
This is simply a flawed team, and there are not a lot of indications that they will all of a sudden be able to turn it on and be what they thought they COULD be. If we’re going to be realist and NOT optimist or pessimist, planning on a fire sale is much more likely than the Royals playing their way back into contention.
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