The sorrow and the pity: a brief reflection on the state of the Royals

Recently, a close friend wrote in re an effort of mine over at RotoSynthesis — a short meditation on the possible fate of newly minted Yinzer Jeff Clement — he wrote:

I think one of the best things about fantasy sports is getting over-involved with the careers of fringe major-leaguers. This affords one the unusual opportunity to go to a big outdoor building containing 50,000 other people and know for specific reasons that you are smarter than all of them.

On account of my friend is the sort of person who unironically lists “self-improvement” among his chief interests, there’s a good chance that he actively seeks out such experiences as he outlines in this email. The Reader of the present weblog very probably does not harbor such illusions of grandeur. Few do, I’d say, and the world is all the better for it. Regardless, my conceited bud has a point: the Sabermetrically Inclined Spectator (which, I’m guessing that’s you) is frequently watching a slightly different game than baseball’s unwashed.


Moreover, if the big outdoor building in question happens to be Kauffman Stadium, it’s very possible that said 50,000 other people — or, in this case, probably more like 24,000 — might very well include the home team’s GM, manager, and whoever all else is responsible for fielding the cast of characters currently posing as a major league baseball team in the City of Fountains.

Because I’m not what you’d call a “great reader” I could very easily be wrong about this, but of the many excellent points it makes, Mind Game by the Baseball Prospectus Special Forces Unit of Experts makes it crystal clear that, more than the players on the field, the fate of a team — especially in the long term — is dictated largely by management. In the case of the Red Sox, 86 years of mediocrity were the result less of a lack of Want-To, bad luck, or — God forbid — a curse, but moreso a failure on the part of management to do basic things like “develop young talent” or “sign black people”.

These are mistakes which become a) less common as the Sabermetrically Inclined more readily invade front offices, and b) more glaring as the Common Man gains access to information (by way of sites like the present one).

All of which is why the Royals are, in short, kinda amazing.

In a bad way, I mean.

Said point was brought home once again in a post yesterday by THT’s own Mike Fast. Fast illustrates in living color what the numbers have been saying for a while: Yuni Betancourt bites defensively.

To see Alberto Callaspo beat Betancourt to a ball on the shortstop side of the bag is to watch a very short, incredibly persuasive documentary called Mediocrity in Action.

Nor is the decision to both sign and then play Betancourt even remotely Kansas City’s first offense against good taste. Every start that (Sir!) Sidney Ponson has made, every walk that Mike Jacobs and Miguel Olivo have refused to take, every high-leverage inning Joakim Soria hasn’t pitched: each is a slap in the face to the Knowledgeable Observer.

What I’m trying to say is: man, I’m so super glad I’m not a Royals fan.

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  1. Carson Cistulli said...

    True, but they *did* finish second-to-last a whole bunch of times to the St Louis Browns, Kansas City Athletics, and Washington Senators. Which, isn’t that basically like finishing last?

  2. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    If it were true, maybe. But Boston has never finished second-to-last ahead of the Washington Senators, and finished second-to-last ahead of St. Louis once (1933) and only twice ahead of Kansas City (1960, 1965).

  3. Brian in Topeka said...

    You should be glad you are not a Royals fan.  I just wish I could find a way to stop being one myself.

  4. Wooden U. Lykteneau said...

    FYI: The Red Sox went 60 years without finishing last (1932-1992) and won 90+ games sixteen times during that 86-year span of “mediocrity.”

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