It’s Year 15. Six years ago a flag was flown proving the Royals were the best team in baseball. Good players were about to leave, but none that could truly be considered a star. No one had dreams of it being an extended run with multiple playoff appearances anyway, and with an organizational front office in place for nearly a decade at that point, surely The Process had taken root enough that a reloading wouldn’t take long. After all, the same Process that took eight years to build the first time, was already up and humming, no need to bottom out again.
It’s Year 15.
This won’t come as a shock to anyone that’s paid attention but the Royals are (very) bad again. In what was supposed to be another “we refuse to tank because we’re above that” season, they’ve assembled a team that would make it hard to believe they were trying to do anything other than tank. Rinse; repeat.
The Royals closed out the first half of the season with a 36-53, .404% record, which is obviously terrible. But it’s worse than that. They’ve gone 20-44, .313%, since beginning the season 16-9 and giving everyone false hope the organization had figured it out again despite all historical evidence of that being a possibility.
A .313 winning percentage is a 51-win pace. Having a win total in the 50s should be a rare occurrence for most front offices – especially ones that have been in place for 15 seasons – but when you’re barreling towards your third 100-loss season in four, when is it time to start asking if this is this a trend and not just consequence of rebuilding? (We’ll get to the concept of whether or not a front office that has been in place this long should ever be considered “rebuilding” at a later date)
The same issues that have plagued the Royals since Moore took over in 2007 remain in place this year. In fact, when looking at the Royals rankings in walks, home runs, and runs scored, you’d think it would be a statistical improbability to be as consistently bad as they’ve been for as long as they’ve been:
|2014||30th||30th (95 Total!)||14th|
They’ve finished bottom 5 in all of baseball in:
- Walks – 14 times in 15 seasons
- Homeruns – 9 times in 15 seasons, and bottom 10 in all 15 seasons
- Runs scored – 4 times in 15 seasons, and bottom 10 eleven times
Fifteen seasons, the three most important offensive categories, and there’s only one single digit number on that chart. How can that be? Wouldn’t you luck into a top-10 finish one time? A top-20 finish? A few years ago, when I started joking that the Royals don’t know how runs are scored, I said it to be snarky on Twitter. But now, with this much evidence, how could one possibly come to a different conclusion? If there’s never a change in the outcome, wouldn’t you conclude The Process at its core is flawed?
For all the admirable traits of a Dayton Moore led franchise – and there are many – too often those admirable traits are overshadowed by the things that frustrate and hold the organization back. And unfortunately, those frustrating traits are all manifested on the field and in the standings.
You can no longer assume the lack of power and runs scored is solely a reflection of the ballpark they happen to play their home games in, or simple bad luck because players they’ve either acquired or counted on have had disappointing seasons. You can no longer assume patience at the plate and an ability to draw walks is something batters learn with age, because it never happens with anyone that comes up from within the Royals farm system, despite all evidence that it would only help their individual performances.
Now at this point, you must conclude that the Royals inability to put even an average Major League offensive lineup together reflects an organizational philosophy that doesn’t understand the changes within the industry…and doesn’t understand how runs are scored.
Teams throughout the game change their team identities and futures far quicker than the Royals, and they’re doing it without preaching patience for a front office that’s been in place for a decade-and-a-half. The Reds were 25th in runs scored in 2019, they’re 8th this season; the Giants are 7th in runs scored after being 28th in 2019, two spots behind the Royals; the White Sox were 24th in 2019 and this year they’re 4th in runs scored, and they’ve been without two of their best hitters.
The argument against the point I’m making will hinge on Jorge Soler and Hunter Dozier being unplayable this year, something the Royals couldn’t have foreseen. That argument would be fine if the depth in the organization wasn’t so lacking in quality or wasn’t filled with more of the same groundball-pounding, incapable-of-walking noodle bats that have plagued the franchise for far longer than even the current regime was put in place.
Perhaps Bobby Witt and Nick Pratto will be the change of fortune this team has needed for decades on offense. Perhaps they’ll turn into what Hosmer and Moustakas were supposed to: dynamic offensive performers rather than just a couple of above average guys. Maybe MJ Melendez’s power is for real; maybe the organizational shift we’ve heard about to embrace launch angle is real and things are about to turn around.
But after 15 years, barreling towards yet another 100-loss season, and eight 90-loss seasons that very easily could have been ten if not for 3-wins and a pandemic shortened season, how can anyone be sure this is the right leadership group to make that turnaround happen? Because they sure do make it look at lot harder than it is.