It is once again time to check in and see how the Shadow Royals are faring against their real-life alternative.
Most of the regulars here no doubt know what this column is, but it is probably in the best interest of the community if I provide a bit of background. If you know what you are going to be reading, feel free to skip right past the obligatory introduction and to the tables.
For the second straight year, Max oversaw an SBNationwide simulation of the Major League offseason. For one week, a regular person took the reins of a team with its roster intact from the close of the 2013 season. These fantasist general managers were almost entirely comprised of writers from each team-specific site with the outliers being St. Louis (Scott McKinney) and I believe Seattle (nwroyal).
We were given what at the time were thought to be reasonable budgets within which to operate. The Shadow Royals were working with an $85MM budget, and there ended up being $920K left over. To compare the two, the Shadow Royals spent $84.08MM while the real Royals' payroll was $92.18MM, or $8.1MM higher than the Shadow Royals' payroll.
If you are curious as to how the rest of the simulation went down, Max's debriefing can be found here (links to the open threads are in that article). The piece following my moves as they happened is here, and the post-coital wrap-up on the Shadow Royals can be read here. Last month's entry can be found here.
In the interest of holding myself accountable when I'm going to repeatedly invoke #anustart in reference to the sitting general manager, I will now proceed to compare my work to his.
We start with the 2014 Kansas City Royals of the real world.
The position players:
The real Royals' offense accumulated 12.5 fWAR and 10.8 rWAR, good for average of 11.65 WAR. From the pitching staff, the Royals got 9.0 fWAR and 8.6 rWAR, an average of 8.8 WAR. Totaling up what the real Royals have done through the end of June shows that the real life Royals amassed 21.5 fWAR and 19.4 rWAR for an average of 20.45 WAR.
When looking at the Shadow Royals, I'll go ahead and list all of the players signed to both Major- and minor-league deals, and we'll worry about their role later in The Process.
Without further ado, the Shadow Royals' Position players:
Before adjusting for differing usage, the Shadow Royals' offense tallied 14.3 fWAR and 14.3 rWAR, or an unadjusted average of 14.3 WAR. The pitching staff added 5.2 fWAR and 1.2 rWAR. That's good for an unappealing average of 3.2 unadjusted WAR. Combining these figures, the Shadow Royals racked up 19.5 fWAR and 15.5 rWAR, averaging 17.5 WAR between the two measures.
Adjustments to Playing Time
None of the above accounts for the dispersal of playing time as my Shadow Royals would have employed. First, we should establish the baselines. Through action on June 30th, the real Royals recorded 3,091 plate appearances and 738.2 innings pitched. Going off the raw data above, the Shadow Royals had 3,300 PA and 682.2 IP.
There is a sizable chunk of the Shadow Royals' roster that needs no adjustment. Obviously, Gordon, Perez, Escobar, and Kendrick's playing time remain untouched. Sadly it's likely that Hosmer's playing time remains untouched as well. There has also been no need at all for Irving Falu, Johnny Giavotella, and Brett Hayes on the Shadow Royals.
Let's start with Royals' catchers. Through June, they amassed 338 PA, which leaves 39 for Kottaras, at least as a catcher, adding 16 to his total. Again, Hayes would not have sniffed the big leagues yet. Though the Shadow Royals would not have used Perez as much at catcher, it's fair to say that Perez and Kottaras would have factored into the DH by committee. There is not, however, any need to adjust Perez's playing time at this juncture.
- Perez - same
- Kottaras - 23 PA => 39 PA
One of either Lorenzo Cain or Michael Bourn was on the DL until May 4th. Dyson had 102 PA through the end of May, a gain of 30 at that point. Maxwell sat at 52 PA at the end of May and was superfluous by that point since Travis Snider could have filled in in the corners in a pinch and the Royals had no shortage of left-handed bats. Maxwell would have been designated for assignment at the onset of June. If the Royals pass him through waivers successfully again, I will assume that I can give myself the same luxury. Between Bourn and Cain in June, they missed two games. With Cain having sat twice, we'll sit him two more times. Bourn played every game in June, but Dyson would get playing time and would be a late-inning defensive replacement on occasion, so we'll take five games away from Bourn. This takes 9 PA from Cain, and 22 from Bourn. With another two starts worth of playing time for Dyson, that puts him at 145 PA.
- Cain - 231 PA => 222 PA
- Bourn - 294 PA => 272 PA
- Dyson - 135 PA =>145 PA
- Maxwell - 45 PA => 52 PA
Royals' third basemen accrued 324 PA through the first three months. Moustakas was sent down on April 15th when he was slashing .100/.200/.150, and Bourn came off the DL. He had collected 45 of the 324 PA at that point. With Valbuena raking, there's no rush to recall Moustakas. Valbuena lost 22 of his 29 PA amassed by April 15th as he was used sparingly before the demotion. That brings Valbuena down to 234 PA. With Ciriaco sitting at 49 PA, we'll assume he picked up the slop at third and consider third base done (though we'll come back to Ciriaco).
Photo credit: Jim Rogash
- Moustakas - 229 PA => 45 PA
- Valbuena - 256 PA => 234 PA
- Ciriaco - same (49 PA)
Of course, the biggest hole in the roster is at designated hitter. Paul Konerko was acquired to only face lefties. The White Sox have done a better job over the past month of limiting his exposure to RHP, but he's still faced RHP 56 times to 66 against LHP. The RHP split looks terrible. Konerko has slashed .274/.303/.452 with a .329 wOBA and 104 wRC+ against LHP while managing an abysmal .157/.214/.275 triple-slash with a .221 wOBA and 30 wRC+ against RHP. There's simply no way he'd have faced that much RHP. Butler faced LHP for a total of 85 PA in the first three months of the season. As Konerko is sitting at 121 PA, that effectively cuts 36 PA off of Konerko's total. With 332 total PA for DH and Konerko claiming 85, there are 247 PA that need appropriation.
Checking in with OMD's Shadow Royals - May Edition
Two months into the season, it's time to compare and contrast the Shadow Royals to the real deal.
Travis Snider, who was signed to a minor league deal with a player opt-out clause if not on the 25-man roster by June 1st, would get pretty much the same 162 PA that he's got above.
This means we have about 132 PA remaining to reach 3091, and they are of primarily of the DH/PH variety. For the sake of ease, we'll assume about 100 go to Kottaras. 7 PA would have gone to Maxwell before he'd have been cut loose in the beginning of June. It's hard to make a case for him on this roster with Cain having a very minor platoon split and Bourn and Dyson filling out the other half so nicely. Snider further renders him useless. That leaves 25 more PA, which we'll assume went to Pedro Ciriaco as some of the infielders are a bit short.
- Konerko - 121 PA => 85 PA
- Snider - same (162 PA)
- Kottaras - 23 PA => 39 PA (at C) =>140 PA (C/DH split with Perez)
- Ciriaco - 49 PA =>75 PA
That puts the Shadow Royals at 3,093 PA through June.
Position player adjustments:
Here is how the adjustments affect each player's WAR.
I'd still love to take a huge bump WAR from extrapolating Kottaras's WAR based on 6 times more playing time, but that seems wildly unfair. That said, I am going to augment Kottaras's total by 0.3 WAR, which isn't much considering a 600% increase in usage of a guy who's been worth over half a win in very limited time while crushing LHP. He'd also presumably give Perez a couple starts at DH while filling in more at catcher.
Not having earned any playing time yet, would be Brett Hayes, Johnny Giavotella, and Irving Falu.
The adjustments to the players above account for a difference in -0.1 WAR, while losing Giavotella, Hayes, and Falu adds 0.8 WAR, totaling 0.7 WAR gained in position player adjustments. The Total Position Player Adjusted WAR is 15.0 WAR.
As a reminder, the real Royals threw 738.2 IP, so the Shadow Royals' innings need to get scaled to that total.
On the pitching front, I had anticipated my preseason rotation consisting of James Shields, Chris Capuano, Shaun Marcum, Bruce Chen, and Felipe Paulino. The pitchers comprising the Opening Day rotation would have been Shields, Capuano, Paulino, Chen, and Slowey for the rotation and Holland, Herrera, Smith, Louis Coleman, Lucas Harrell, and Hector Noesi (the last two being out of options). Ventura and Mendoza fill the slots that Paulino and Chen vacate with their trips to the DL.
Capuano was pitching in relief in Boston and was released on Monday. He'd have been the Shadow Royals #2 starter (not counting Ventura, of course) and has been healthy, but it is hard to imagine that he would have pitched as deep into games as Guthrie or Vargas have in the past month. He was at 74.2 after June. Let's put him at an even 100 IP.
Marcum had a setback in rehab at the end of May and hasn't pitched yet. Great signing, stupid.
Photo credit: Lance Iversen - USA Today Sports
Chen would have been used in essentially the same way that he was here, with the initial plan being to move him to long relief to make room for Ventura when service time was properly gamed. Chen's last start was on April 24th. Chen can be non-worthless any time now.
Paulino went down on April 18th. Ventura would have been in the minors through his first three starts to game service time. Ventura got 17.0 IP taken off his totals for the first two months, as he'd have come up after his third start. Those same 17.0 IP come off his total, but obviously there is no need to adjust his figures further.
With the rotation thus far consisting of Shields, Capuano, Paulino/Ventura, and four starts of Bruce Chen, the next in line for the rotation in my eyes would have been Kevin Slowey. He's been healthy this season and was slotted him at 71.2 IP through May. I'm going to go ahead and say that Noesi's resurgence since April will have emboldened the Shadow Royals to swap Slowey and Noesi from rotation to long-relief. We'll add 10 IP to Slowey's total from the end of May.
Noesi's totals were untouched last time around--long relief would be much more heavily relied upon with the dicey pitching staff of the Shadow Royals--and he spent the last month starting, so he stays where he is. I'm very thankful for Don Cooper right now, as Noesi has been playable in Chicago.
Rounding out the rotation for in Bruce Chen's vacated fifth spot will be Luis MendozACE. He threw 33 IP in the first two months for the Shadow Royals and threw another 23.1 IP in June in Japan. We will assign replacement value to his innings, though it isn't unreasonable to assume he'd at least have been worth negligibly more than that.
The Shadow Royals made up an injury for Harrell (anal fissures) and threw him on the DL rather than DFAing him, but his total innings remain unchanged. The anal fissures are serious.
- Shields - same (111.2 IP)
- Capuano - 31.2 IP => 100 IP
- Ventura - 88.1 IP => 71.1 IP
- Chen - same (24.1 IP)
- Paulino - same (18.1 IP)
- Slowey - 37.1 IP => 81.2 IP
- Noesi - same (71 IP)
- Mendoza - 89.1 => 56.1 IP
- Harrell - same (12.1 IP)
Having accounted for the guys in the mix for the rotation that accounts for 547.0 IP, some of which was accumulated in relief.
The Shadow Royals also can't fathom not using Holland at least as much as Herrera. 6.0 IP got added to Holland's totals from the first two months. No extra usage adjustment was required this month.
Blake Wood was up from day one. It's probably not fair to have him pitching more innings than he's accumulated between the Majors and minors this season. That total is 18.0 IP.
This leaves 40.1 IP to hand out.
The Shadow Royals would have called up Donnie Joseph to add another LHP to the mix in the pen. He had 16.0 IP through the first two months of the season. Give him another 7.0 IP over the last month.
The Shadow Royals would have called up Buddy Baumann to fill out 10.0 IP.
The remaining 7.0 IP will just go to Francisely Bueno for the sake of ease.
- Holland - 31.2 IP => 37.2 IP
- Herrera - same (36.1 IP)
- Smith - same (39.2 IP)
- Wood - 6.1 IP => 18.0 IP
- Coleman - same (19.2 IP)
- Joseph - 0.2 IP =>23.0 IP
- Baumann - 0.0 IP =>10.0 IP
- Bueno - same 7.0 IP
Given the adjustments to playing time, here is how they affect WAR:
Accounting for different usage and not adjusting Joseph's WAR on account of absurd usage, the Shadow Royals lose an adjusted 0.55 WAR. Furthermore, Casey Coleman, Marks, Rodriguez, and Brooks have not come close to setting foot on the grass in the Bigs. Additionally, Jerome Williams is still sitting in the minors on his minor-league deal. This adds 0.7 WAR to the Shadow Royals' adjusted total. The Shadow Royals' pitching staff's adjusted total WAR is 3.35 WAR.
When combined with the position players' WAR, the Shadow Royals' adjusted total WAR is 18.35.
2.1 WAR worse than the real Royals with a payroll $8.1MM less.
Of the four prospects the Shadow Royals acquired this past offseason, Kevin Vance's peripherals are looking all right. Dalier Hinojosa walks a ton of dudes, but he also strikes a bunch out, and is in Triple-A. His peripherals look OK. Garbage throw-ins Austin Wright and Daniel Tillman look like any hope for a rebound is a misplaced one.
Three months in and the piecemeal approach to assembling the pitching staff on the cheap isn't going especially well.
Capuano was released after pitching in relief for the Red Sox. I have to hope someone in need of a starter claims him to bring his numbers back up above replacement level. Slowey has been healthy enough to pitch but hasn't pitched particularly well. Luis Mendoza is pitching fairly well in Japan, but that doesn't do me much good other than being able to say he's healthy enough to slot into a rotation spot, and that he's got great hair. Marcum, Karstens, Paulino, and Chen have barely been healthy if they've been able to set foot on the field at all. Mijares appears to have retired after being released by Boston in March. Paulino has been unable to regain control on his pitches while rehabbing in AAA - Charlotte. They pulled him from his assignment about a month ago. I'm hoping that Don Cooper works his magic to my benefit (and eventually helps erase that negative WAR). Marcum was shut down about six weeks ago with recurrent shoulder problems.
There is also a fair amount of volatility in the numbers, especially for Wood, Slowey, Capuano, Joseph, Baumann, and Kottaras. I also think I'd gain at least 0.1 more WAR back on Konerko when used properly, but I have no idea how to reverse engineer his WAR to subtract the dismal figures against RHP. I'm also looking forward to the day where Buddy Baumann gets called up and gets to start giving me value. Joseph traded to the Marlins for cash, so here's to hoping he shreds for them.
The Shadow Royals' offense continues to kill it. If measured against real teams, the position players would comprise a top four unit, edging out the Brewers. And that's without a positive adjustment for Konerko. The volatile pitching staff endured a rough patch in June and plummeted down the ranks to a near-the-bottom unit.
Even with a piecemeal pitching staff that's worked out significantly less than desirably, it's hard to complain about where the Shadow Royals are. They're approximately 2.1 wins worse with a significantly lower payroll. I've got to believe that the pitching will rebound at least a bit. There is also likely to be some regression from pitchers on the real Royals that got traded away in the sim, namely Duffy (who gained over a win in the past month) and Davis, who are killing me right now and are really widening the gap.