A Royal Thirty Days of Stink

kansas_city_royals_logoThere were once high hopes for the Kansas City Royals, but no longer.   While the problems plaguing the Royals began even as they raced out of the 2009 starting gate to an 18-11 record and three game Central Division lead, the last thirty days provide a perfect illustration of the state of this franchise.

Since June 25th, Kansas City has won just eight out of twenty-six games.   Along the way, they have:

  • Scored 89 runs, 7 less than the next lowest scoring American League team and 90 less than the Angels, who lead the lead over that period of time
  • Hit just 18 home runs, 3 less than the Orioles, 4 less than the A’s and 14 fewer than the league leading Tigers
  • Struck out 185 times, fifth worst in the league
  • Walked only 60 times – dead last by 8
  • Compiled a 4.82 earned run average – 12th in the American League
  • Walked 99 opposing batters – only the Blue Jays have issued more free passes
  • Thrown 15 wild pitches – most in the American League and more than the Red Sox, Twins, Tigers and Orioles combined
  • Given up 33 home runs – second only to the Angels in most allowed
  • Blown 6 saves – only Detroit has been worse
  • The bullpen, excluding closer Joakim Soria, has allowed 44 earned runs and 44 walks in 61 innings of work

Yuniesky Betancourt
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In addition to the above, over the course of the entire season, the Royals have committed more errors (71) than every other AL team except Seattle and given that Kansas City acquired Mariners’ shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt just prior to the All-Star break, they may well be in position to change that ranking.

Not to worry about base running, either.   Using Bill James’ plus/minus base running evaluation, Kansas City is the worst team in baseball at running the bases…..by a large margin.

Simply put, the Kansas City Royals are a bad baseball team at this point in time.  The question becomes, can this be fixed?  The answer, sadly, is probably ‘no’.

Even as recently as last month, I thought the Royals could at least be respectable if David DeJesus returned to form and Joakim Soria got healthy.  Well, DeJesus has gone .314/.402/.431 over the past thirty days and overall team improvement has not come. Even with Mark Teahen posting a thirty day OPS of .850 and Billy Butler one of .876, the Royals offense has been anemic.

Joakim Soria has indeed returned and allowed just two runs and eight hits over 11 innings of work while striking out sixteen batters.  Yet he has appeared in only eleven games, three of those blowout losses.   In fact, manager Trey Hillman did not use Soria even once in a recent three game set against Tampa Bay in which the Royals’ bullpen blew eighth inning leads in all three contests.

KANSAS CITY, MO - JUNE 17:  Starting pitcher Z...

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How bad is it in Kansas City?  Ask the guys in the starting rotation. Zack Greinke has a 2.43 ERA over his last five starts, but only two wins.   Brian Bannister has a respectable 3.52 ERA over his last six starts, but only a 1-3 record to show for it.   While Luke Hochevar has stepped up to become a quality middle of the rotation guy, and rotation stalwart Gil Meche missed his first start in two and one-half seasons last week.

That paints a bleak picture for the Royals that might lead many to believe the Royals will be big sellers on the trade market.  Yet, Royals’ GM Dayton Moore seems content to ‘stay the course’ and ‘trust the process’, believing that injuries and bad luck have had more to due with Kansas City’s decline than the actual roster construction.

While deals may yet be made, the truth is that the Royals will not trade Greinke, Meche or Soria and place a much higher value on Alex Gordon and Billy Butler than the other 29 teams do.   As such, the only trading chips of value left are DeJesus, Teahen, Brian Bannister and Luke Hochevar – all four are believed to be part of the core group of players that the Royals believe can lead them to contention in the future.

All indications out of Kansas City point towards few, if any, deadline deals and likely nothing of an earth-shaking variety.   The Royals believe they are on the right track.   The numbers seem to say otherwise.

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