Firstman: The Royals and anti-Three True Outcomes

From SABR member Diane Firstman at The Hardball Times on July 2, 2014:

Prior to the 2013 season, Dayton Moore pushed his powder blue chips in for a playoff run. The Royals had played to a .408 winning percentage since their last winning team (an 83-79 squad in 2003). They hadn’t won more than 75 games in any season from 2004 through 2012. Their No. 1-ranked farm system of the prior few years had begun funneling a ton of offensive talent to Kauffman Stadium, but injuries and subpar performances left them with few internal options for their pitching staff.

Thus, in December of 2012, Kansas City swapped top prospect Wil Myers along with Jake Odorizzi for (ostensibly) two years of nominal ace James Shields and “crossing fingers he can solidify the rotation” Wade Davis. With their competent and potent lineup including homegrown Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas, it seemed the Royals could contend for at least a Wild Card spot in 2013 and 2014.

The 2013 season didn’t quite pan out as they had hoped, but at 86-76 KC did achieve only its second winning season since 1993. Yordano Ventura debuted, and Royals fans could pin their hopes on the possible first successful home-grown ace pitcher since Zack Greinke.

Alas, the 2014 season has been more of the same. A recent ten-game winning streak (their longest since 1994) moved them into first place by 1 ½ games, but that only placed them at 39-32, and that burst was followed immediately by a four-game losing streak. Coming into Saturday’s contest, Kansas City’s 41-38 record (.519) was quite similar to last year’s .530 final tally.

Fans and media are noticing that, at least when it comes to offense, this year’s squad does a lot of things like last year’s group … or should I say they don’t do things. They don’t walk (their 193 free passes is last, not just in the league, but in the majors). They don’t hit homers (also last in the AL and all of MLB with 46, one behind the Cardinals). They finished 26th in walks and 28th in homers in 2013.

But I suggest this is only coming under increasing scrutiny because of the lofty expectations placed upon the club. For you see, the Royals never have really walked, or homered like their brethren. They also haven’t struck out as frequently as the competition. They are the “anti-Three True Outcomes.”

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Originally published: July 2, 2014. Last Updated: July 2, 2014.