With another month in the books, it's time to check back in on the Shadow Royals from the SBNationwide offseason simulation that RoyalsRetro lorded over last winter. The last month hasn't been as kind to the real life Royals as the first was. May has been a bit of a mixed bag for the Shadow Royals as well. The stats looked at are just a quick and dirty way to look at things. For the sake of imperfect but easy comparison, we'll look primarily at both measures of WAR while making sense of things.
And the pitching:
For the sake of easiest comparison between the two teams, we shall look at cumulative Wins Above Replacement. Through the first 24 games of the season, the Royals actual roster had netted a total of 7.0 fWAR and 6.6 rWAR. That is good for an average of 6.8 WAR. Now at the 52 game mark the Royals roster has totaled 9.7 fWAR and 9.7 rWAR.
So how do Old Man Duggan's Shadow Royals compare? See for yourself. Position players:
And the pitchers:
For those keeping track at home, the Shadow Royals had 6.2 fWAR and 4.3 rWAR for an average of 5.25 WAR through the first 24 games. At the end of May the Shadow Royals had netted 9.1 fWAR and 7.5 rWAR for an average of 8.3 WAR.
There are obvious theoretical usage differences between the two teams. On the pitching staff alone, Chen would have been in the rotation to start the season before assuming a role in the bullpen to make room for Odorizzi or Bauer. Will Smith would likely have been in the Majors for the most of season, so Shadow Royals would have been relying on him as a second lefty out of the pen. In real life, Marc Rzepczynski was optioned to Triple-A a month ago, so he's not recording any stats for the Shadow Royals, though I don't know that I'd have been so quick to demote him, as his peripherals were not exactly awful.
Jake Westbrook made his way to the DL with an elbow issue a few weeks ago. He's being paid $1.0MM in the simulation (the Cardinals are paying the rest of his 2013 salary). There is a $1.0MM buyout on a $9.5MM mutual option for next year, so while the prospect of Tommy John Surgery looms in the near-distance, the financial burden is nominal on these Shadow Royals were he to go under the knife. For those who forgot (read: all of you), Blake Wood was also retained in the simulation. He is counting his money on the 60-day DL,making $507K as he rehabs, though he is throwing in the minors right now for Cleveland.
Additionally, the Shadow Royals would have been relying upon four replacement level players who still haven't made it up from in Omaha, making it a bit difficult to compare the two teams fully. For the purposes of totaling the WAR, I just left their values at zero, but even if they averaged 0.1 Wins apiece that would increase the WAR total by roughly half a win when factoring in the guys from month one who also sat in the minors. Also, playing time for Jarrod Dyson would have increased over the first three weeks or so, as he was going to bridge the gap in the beginning of the season.
The biggest potential difference comes from Wil Myers, who would have gotten called up roughly five weeks ago. Instead, he's hitting bombs in Durham. Other than that, most of those players could be expected to be roughly replacement-level. The injury to Westbrook opens up a spot in the rotation for Bauer/Odorizzi. Chen would move from the back of the rotation to the pen to make room for the other. Both would be up at this point.
[Note: These next three paragraphs have been added to try to address the issue of differences in player usage from real life to the Shadow Royals] In the interest of trying to approximate values of players who were used differently in their 2013 season to how they would have been on the Shadow Royals, I've attempted to extrapolate WAR adjustments based on increased playing time for certain players. Since the plan for the beginning was to call up Wil Myers at or around the end of the three-week mark of the season, Jarrod Dyson would likely have gotten an extra 14 starts. Using the approximate plate appearance per game of three for Dyson, as he'd likely be batting near the bottom of the order, that puts him at roughly 14 more full games at 42 more plate appearances. That is conveniently double the usage that he had in reality, putting his projected value at 0.8 fWAR and 0.4 rWAR. I'll refrain from adjusting Chris Johnson's numbers, as it's hard to argue that his value would be bolstered by facing more righties, and switch-hitting utility infielders Tony Abreu and Irving Falu would likely have gotten some spot starts to keep them in the mix. Those are the only substantive changes to player value I can make at this time. As the season plays out and Myers actually accrues Major League service time, we can retroactively credit him with theoretical WAR in proportion with how he would have been used.
On the pitching front, Chen would have been used in the rotation until Bauer and Odorizzi were ready to come up. For the sake of ease, he'd likely have been used about as much as Mendoza, so we'll estimate his totals rated out for 45 IP. Obviously, one would expect that he would have pitched a bit poorer as a starter than a reliever, but if we increase his usage by 150%, his value increases to 0.7 fWAR and 1.2 rWAR. With Bauer and Odorizzi having earned pointless service time last year, their call-up dates would have been more or less in line with when they were called up in real life, or at least the difference between their playing time this season and in fantasy land would have been so miniscule as to render an adjustment for either largely pointless. It's also mostly pointless to try to adjust Will Smith's totals, who'd have been used strictly as a LOOGY, or Louis Coleman's, who'd have been used more but hasn't recorded much in the way of WAR.
In looking at the total increase seen from increased usage of Dyson and Chen, there would be an added 0.8 fWAR and 0.9rWAR bringing an adjusted team total to 9.9 fWAR and 8.4 rWAR, good for an average of 9.15 WAR or 0.55 WAR less than the real Royals without the services of Wil Myers factoring into any of this. [End addendum.]
Over the course of the simulation, I also shipped off John Lamb, Mike Montgomery, Yordano Ventura, Elier Hernandez, Jason Adam, Christian Colon, J.C. Sulbaran, and Robinson Yambati in deals and signed Mitch Maier, Brandon Inge, Jesus Flores, and Kyle McClellan to minor-league deals for organizational depth.
For the sake of transparency: John Lamb finally had a start in which it looked like his velocity might be back; Montgomery is getting shelled in high-A; Ventura is on the verge of a promotion to Omaha; Hernandez is still in Extended Spring Training; Jason Adam is finally striking batters out in Double-A, but he's getting hit around a lot; Christian Colon is doing nothing to attempt to shed the label of "disappointment;" Sulbaran still appears to be terrible; and Yambati would appear to be a live arm but little else.
Inge had a clause in his contract that he had to be on the 25-man roster by June 1st. If he somehow made the team over one of the utility infielders, he's been worth -0.1 fWAR and -0.2 rWAR.
The Shadow Royals had a total payroll of $69.1MM, so $12.77MM less than the Royals payroll. With the insertion of Bauer, Myers, and Odorizzi into the lineup, it would be hard to argue that the Shadow Royals aren't set up much better for the future, even if the first two months were less kind to them as they were to the actual Royals.
If there is one thing that's clear, Rickie Weeks has been an anchor on this team's production through the first two months. He only cost money and Aaron Crow, but he's been death to this team. I still think he can be a productive member of this team.
Regardless, there's a 1.4 WAR difference between the two squads. One of them cost nearly $13MM less than the other, and there is less strain on the Shadow Royals' immediate future (though prospects were shipped off on the trade market).
Denizens of Royals Review, sink your claws in.