As you may know, I was working today’s game against the Kansas City Royals. After the game, I spotted four Royals fans taking pictures and talking to each other in the left field stands. I felt like striking up a conversation, showing them that fans of opposing teams could co-exist, so I asked them if they were from Kansas City. It turned out that two of them were actually from the Twin Cities area, but the other two were indeed visiting from Missouri. I continued talking to them and eventually our conversation turned to the lack of success for the Royals. Of course, I had to see how a fan felt about the team, so I asked a simple question: “What do you think is the reason why the Royals have been so bad lately?” A good chunk of the answer certainly shocked me.
This is not intended to be the view of all Royals fans, but I felt that it would be interesting to see how someone felt about this team that watched them more often than me.
That’s right, the Royals need more money. Why? This guy said (paraphrasing), “We have a good rotation, a good closer, though we can’t ever get to him, we have a good offense, we’re first in hitting, we have a good defense…we just need more money.” He later said that another issue was how terrible the bullpen has been this year, but a huge issue was the low payroll. With the exception of Zack Greinke, he felt that once the Royals had some good players, they traded them away or let them walk as free agents. I’m not entirely sure that this was true, but I wasn’t feeling confrontational today.
As a retort to what he said (again, because I didn’t feel like making a big deal out of this), yes, the Royals have a good offense…right now. They’re first in the AL (third in MLB) in batting average (.303), 7th in MLB in on-base percentage, 9th in slugging percentage…they actually are doing pretty well right now, offensively. But, look at four of the starting nine for the Royals, with the AVG/OBP/SLG triple slash statistics.
Yuniesky Betancourt, .324/.359/.524
Scott Podsednik, .436/.500/.462
Jason Kendall, .368/.415/.447
Jose Guillen, .350/.395/.800
Throw in Billy Butler and David DeJesus, and the Royals have six starters hitting over .300. Butler and DeJesus are definitely capable of sustaining that type of production for the whole year, but of the four I highlighted above, only Podsednik has a chance of hitting over .300 for the whole season and I’m only saying that because he did it last year. Guillen will not maintain a .800 slugging percentage; that’s a number that only Albert Pujols could reach. Podsednik won’t hit .400 forever. Basically, these four guys are overachieving right now, and it’s going to hurt Royals fans when these guys start regressing to their career numbers.
I would spit out numbers on the Royals’ pitching staff, but they’re skewed thanks to the horrid performance from the bullpen right now. I do feel that the rotation isn’t as good as this guy claimed, however. After Greinke, Gil Meche, and Brian Bannister, there isn’t too much to get excited. Luke Hochevar is an underperforming starter that occasionally flashes brilliance, and I view Kyle Davies as a poor version of Nick Blackburn. If you removed Greinke, I’d call the rotation average. As for the defense, well, I’d just point you towards Joe Posnanski or Rany Jazayerli.
2. Dayton Moore
This fan did not refer to Moore by name, but he did complain about “the GM.” This is a dead horse that’s been beaten many times, so I won’t go down that road in depth. All I’ll say is that he’s made some curious transactions, and for some reason, he says one thing and then does something almost the opposite. However, at least in terms of the offense, he seems like a genius with signing Podsednik, and Ankiel in the offseason, and trading for Betancourt and signing Guillen in past years.
But as I said before, many guys on the team will regress, and when it does, it will hurt. Despite the high ranks in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage, the Royals are in the middle of the pack in runs scored, and have a 4-7 record. If the offensive regression starts and the bullpen doesn’t fix their problems, this will be yet another long season in Kansas City.