August wasn’t supposed to be like this.
After a scorching hot June and (most of) July, the Royals were supposed to roar into August and battle Cleveland for the AL Central lead, all while solidifying the lead they had built up in the Wild Card race. Worst case, they were going to play New York or Boston in the Wild Card game. Best case, they would be guaranteed at least three playoff games in the ALDS.
So much for all of that.
This team has completely fallen apart.
The bullpen went first, coming off a dominant stretch in late July and turning into total garbage. Then the starting rotation started leaking oil. Deadline acquisition Trevor Cahill sucked and then went onto the DL. Danny Duffy was mediocre at best after a DL stint, then went back onto the DL, and apparently got himself a DUI over the weekend. Jason Vargas’ early-season magic is long gone. Jason Hammel is really good for five innings then turns into a pumpkin in the sixth every time out.
Oh, and then the lineup. They go into tonight’s game not having scored a run in something like 800 innings. Pathetic. This team has always been streaky as fuck, but this is taking it a little too far.
Pretty much every move Dayton Moore has made over the last two years has gone wrong. It looks like the Royals will be stuck with Ian Kennedy through the end of his contract. Brandon Moss has done very little. Jorge Soler hasn’t contributed a thing to the Major League team and there’s real doubt whether he ever will. Raul Mondesi was a disaster in the bigs, and they Royals may have ruined their best prospect by rushing him. Hammel has been decent at times, but far from a successful signing. None of the pitchers acquired from San Diego have been any good. And the Alex Gordon contract is turning into a blunder of historic nature.
Well, Melky Cabrera has been solid. So I guess that’s one in the win column for Dayton.
I point all that out not to blame Dayton, but rather to show how little luck the Royals have had this year. I think most of those moves were defensible, and even if they all turn into mediocre rather than terrible moves, this team is right in the playoff hunt.
One of the better modern baseball stats is BABIP: batting average in balls in play. It suggests that, over time, luck in baseball evens out. You might have great (or bad) luck on balls put into play one year. But odds are the next year that luck will swing back toward normal. Perhaps that’s what this season is for the Royals. After being an extraordinarily fortunate team from August 2014 through November 2015, they had to swing back. Last year was a neutral year. This year is the pendulum swinging toward the opposite extreme.
Which sucks. As I’ve said many times this year, my biggest hope for this season was that the Royals stay in the playoff race deep into the season. With their roster, a third AL pennant in four years was going to be a long shot. I just wanted this summer to matter. While we got an exciting eight weeks in the middle of the season, the first four and the most recent four all sucked. Now, with school ramping up, football about to start, and autumn just over the horizon, it’s getting harder to tune in each night to see how the team does. I wanted one more September where, despite all the fall stuff, I was still compelled to turn on the Royals game each night. Even if they came up short, I wanted that last month of watching Hosmer and Moustakas and Cain and Escobar fight they way they did in ’14 and ’15.
Flags fly forever, though. So L and I will probably dive into the DVR again soon to watch the bottom of the 8th inning of game six of the ’15 ALCS, and then Josh Donaldson ground out 5–3 to seal the pennant, and 12th inning of game five of the World Series. For her, it’s just fun. For me, it will be to relive that magical 14 months when, somehow, the Kansas City Royals were the best team in baseball.
Hopefully it’s not another 30 years before I get to live through moments like those again.
- Or 43. Whatever. ↩