Back on March 30th, in a season opening piece, I wrote:
So where are we? I'm hard pressed to come up with a team that's legitimately harder to project in the short term, although from the other end of the competition arch the White Sox may rival our Royals. In 2008 the Royals will score 770 runs and allow 790, which comes out to about 79-83, a number consistent with what I've been telling people all off-season. That runs allowed number is factoring in a breakout from Greinke and some roster trash being erased from 2007, but small steps backward for a number of other players and increasingly difficult competition.
The win-loss prediction ended up not being that far off, although it took an abberant September (18-8) to even sniff 79 runs. Still, 75-87 isn't far afield from where many of us thought the team would end up. Actually, my prediction of 79-83 ended up being exactly the community average.
Nevertheless, the Royals came up four wins short in what turned out to be a much weaker AL Central than anyone expected. There was no 95-win behemoth in the Central this year, much less two, which looked possible at the beginning of the season. Instead, the Twins & White Sox ended up tied at 88 wins, while the Indians and Tigers combined to be fourteen games below .500. The Royals ended up 31-41 against their division, but only 20-34 against non-Tigers. Overall, you'd have to say that those were a soft 75 wins for the Royals. If the 79-win team we thought we we're getting had shown up in this year's Central, the Royals may have ended up with 81 or so wins.
The runs scored & runs allowed data further reveals how far the 2008 Royals slid off of our imagined tracks. For the first time since 1995, the Royals failed to score over 700 runs, topping out at 691, the third lowest total in the American League. Instead of improving upon 2007's total of 706 runs scored, the Royals lost ground. On the whole, more players disappointed at the plate in 2008 than surprised. This team still doesn't get on-base and it still doesn't hit for power.
What saved the 2008 Royals however was the pitching staff. Unlike some Royals fans, I was worried about the staff being unable to improve on their 2007 performance, and predicted 790 runs allowed, twelve more than the 2007 total. This is what happened. The Royals allowed 781 runs, three more than in 2007. Getting an extra 80 quality innings out of Zack Greinke erased a lot of minor problems, and the Royals held on to their 2007 level of performance despite seeing their purported #3 starter blow up. Had the Royals really regressed and allowed something like 820 runs, it would have been a much longer year.
So grading myself, I'd give my overall Royals prediction a B-, thank you. Next week, we'll take a look at the 2008 season in greater detail.