Understanding The Royals Current Place In The Baseball Universe

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 30: Billy Butler #16 of the Kansas City Royals runs to second base after hitting a double against the Detroit Tigers in the sixth inning at Kauffman Stadium on August 30, 2012 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)

Following the Royals sweep of the Tigers, I received a Tweet from @markgfitz:

Royals 7-21 vs. 3 AL cellar teams (Minn, Tor, Sea); 52-50 vs. everyone else. Thoughts?

Kind of interesting, no? And this segues nicely with Clark writing about the 12 game losing streak, how we now stand exactly 12 games under .500 at this point and the "ifs" and "buts" that go along.

Just seven wins against teams who aren't that great. Of course, thanks to the three division format, only the Twins are a worse team, winning percentage wise. Although that will certainly change between now and the end of the season. The Mariners are streaking while the Jays have lost Jose Bautista and are sliding into oblivion. And the Twins are the Twins.

Why is this happening?

I didn't see @markgfitz's tweet about cherry-picking teams... It's more about the Royals having some sort of strange psychosis depending on who they play and at a given point of the season.

Bigger picture, the Royals record against teams with a record currently greater than .500 is 36-38. That's the second best mark in the Central, behind only the White Sox. Turn it around and against sub-.500 clubs the Royals are 23-33. Maddening, isn't it?

And it just kind of defies explanation. Maybe some journo or PR type will talk about how the Royals magically elevate their game when playing teams like the Tigers. Because who doesn't want to beat Detroit? And then they'll drop a four game series in Seattle just because it's difficult to get fired up against the Mariners. Whatever. That's a bunch of bunk and we all know it.

Sometimes, strange things happen in baseball. Justin Verlander gets touched for eight runs. Or Luke Hochevar outduels David Price. Or the Royals don't bunt with a runner on second and nobody out. You get the idea.

I'm a believer that at the end of the 162 games, you'll find the true measure of your team. If they lost 90 games, that's what they are: A 72 win team. It doesn't matter if they lost 12 games in a row at some point. And it doesn't matter if they get crushed by the cellar dwellers. They went 72-90. Case closed.

Look at the Royals home record this season. They dropped their first 10 home games and won just four of their first 17 games covering two home stands. We wrung our collective hands. "Oh, this team is so bad at home. This is awful." Yet since then the Royals have gone 25-20. Now the script is flipped. This is a team to be feared at the K. They take care of business at home. Bam!

The Royals have won 59 games and the Pythag Record puts them at 60 wins. Seems to be within the margin of error. And all of this says the Royals, when the dust settles following game 162, should have a grand total around 74 wins. That is who they are likely to be when October rolls around. And there will still be those who insist on removing the 12 game losing streak... "But if you take away the 12 losses, the Royals would have been above .500!" they will argue. Fine. If you can take away the Royals poor start, I get to remove August where they won 17 games and are 6 games over .500. We can play this game all day... And I bet we end up at a winning percentage around .454.

But we can't do this exercise all day. Not if we are going to fairly evaluate the team and how they finished. As Clark mentioned, plenty of things happened throughout the year, but to one extent or another those sorts of things happen to every team every year. There are injuries, slumps and rotten luck. Some teams get through them, some don't. But as the season winds down, we find the true level of our team.

We can search for reasons the Royals dropped 10 in a row at home to start the season. We can scratch our heads at why the Royals play miserable baseball against bad teams. Sometimes, there are no answers.

To me, that's kind of the beauty of this game.

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