Several recent posts have talked about what it would take for the Royals to be in contention next year. Is it as simple as adding two decent starting pitchers? Yost said YES - but what do the numbers say?
With Oakland and Baltimore making the playoffs seemingly out of nowhere, and Tampa Bay continuing to win with pitching, the current formula for success appears to be above average pitching with near average hitting.
Using FanGraphs ERA- and wRC+ values for 1996-2012, average values for teams in both leagues were tabulated.
The data seems to confirm that pitchers dominate the National League.
Applying the Royals averages to the AL league averages, the 107.4 ERA- would translate to about 70 wins, the 89.6 wRC+ would translate to about 65 wins. This suggests pitching has outperformed hitting over the last 17 years.
To be in contention to win the Central Division, the Royals need at least 85 wins. In the AL this suggests a 96.0 or lower ERA- and a 101.8 or better wRC+.
Will two additions (and two subtractions) to the starting rotation move the 105 ERA- to a 96.0 ERA-? A 96 ERA- didn't' happen when Zack was here, and the pitching hasn't been that good since 1996. Also, consider that league average pitching has steadily improved over the past few years.
Will the hitters improve from a 95 wRC+ to a 101.8 wRC+? This is only conceivable since in 2011 this group of players had a 102 wRC+, however, the hitting has been below league average every other year since 1996. So maybe a new hitting coach is the answer.