Dayton Moore has been in charge of the Kansas City Royals since 2006, which, for reference, was a whole year before the very first iPhone. Here we are in 2013, where there have been six versions of the iPhone and only one version of the Royals: bad. This is Moore's seventh full year on the job. The Royals are currently on pace for 76 wins, one whole win more than Moore's best in 2008, when The Dark Knight and Iron Man were the two top-grossing films at the box office. What does Moore have to say about this Process? Let's see:
2006: If you make enough good decisions, three-year plans turn into two-year plans and five-year plans turn into three-year plans. If you make bad decisions, 10-year plans turn into no plan.
2010: Our goal by 2013, 2014 is to have the majority of our 25-man roster be homegrown players. That’s what we’re shooting for, that’s been the long-term plan all along . . . Look what Colorado did, look what Minnesota did, look what the New York Yankees did. It took the Yankees seven years. Theycommitted to it in ’89, and finally in ’96 they won with homegrown guys. I’m not talking about getting to .500, I’m talking about winning the
World Series when I say eight to 10 years.”
2013: "When I came here (in 2006),” he said, “I told everybody this: ‘You ask anybody in baseball, whether (fans) want to believe it or not, unless we’re going to be a big-market club and go out and spend on multiple free agents a year, it’s an eight-to-10-year process to get this thing in a position where you’re competing to go to playoffs.'
Like any good slimy politician, Moore is carefully repositioning himself and his claims alongside the current happenings. Unfortunately for him, this is not 1984, and we have not always been at war with Eurasia. The internet remembers. Forever.
So, I attempted to find out if his claims were accurate. How long does it actually take for a team to turn it around and get to the playoffs? I went through every current team's history (hence no Expos) since 1990 and noted how many years it took from losing season to playoff birth. This is not a specific analysis; I do not examine how bad a team was, how good their playoff run was, factors in their improvement, payroll, etc. However, it is not meant to be. There are 23 years worth of data here, and in this time period there have been 59 times a team suffered a losing season and came back to the playoffs.
In addition to answering a general question about the 'turnaround' length for MLB teams, I also wanted to have more specific information about Moore's plight. How long do teams give a GM power? Therefore, for every data point wherein the team suffered an 8+ year gap between losing season and playoff run, I include the total amount of General Managers and managers employed by said team during that time period.
So, without further ado, the data. Under each team is listed, from oldest to newest, instances in which the team suffers a losing season (the first date) and gets to the postseason (the second date).
3 years: 2004-2007; 2 years: 2009-201
4 years: 2006-2010
14 years: 1998-2012 (6 GM, 6 managers); 6 years: 1990-1996
Boston Red Sox
3 years: 1992-1995
8 years: 1990-1998 (3 GM, 6 managers); 4 years: 1999-2003; 2 years: 2005-2007; 3+ years: 2010-
Chicago White Sox
5 years: 1995-2000; 1 year: 2007-2008; 4+ years: 2009-
4 years: 1991-1995; 13 years: 1997-2010 (4 GM, 8 managers); 1 year: 2011-2012
5 years: 1990-1995; 5 years: 2002-2007; 4+ years: 2009-
2 years: 1993-1995; 9 years: 1998-2007 (2 GM, 4 managers); 1 year: 2008-2009; 2+ years: 2011-
16 years: 1990-2006 (6 GM, 7 managers); 3 years: 2008-2011
7 years: 1990-1997; 1 year: 2001-2002; 6+ years: 2007-
Kansas City Royals
23+ years: 1990-
Los Angeles Angels
12 years: 1990-2002 (5 GM, 8 managers); 1 year: 2003-2004; 3+ years: 2010-
Los Angeles Dodgers
3 years: 1992-1995; 5 years: 1999-2004; 1 year: 2005-2006; 1 year: 2007-2008; 3+ years: 2010-
4 years: 1993-1997; 5 years: 1998-2003; 7+ years: 2006-
18 years: 1990-2008 (4 GM; 7 managers); 2 years: 2009-2011
2 years: 1989-1991; 9 years: 1993-2002 (2 GM; 2 managers); 2 years: 2007-2009; 2+ years: 2011-
New York Mets
8 years: 1991-1999 (4 GM; 5 managers); 4 years: 2002-2006; 4+ years: 2009- (NW)
New York Yankees
6 years: 1989-1995
7 years: 1993-2000; 5 years: 2007-2012
6 years: 1987-1993; 13 years: 1994-2007 (3 GM, 4 managers)
20+ years: 1990-
San Diego Pirates
6 years: 1990-1996; 1 year; 1997-1998; 6 years: 1999-2006; 5+ years: 2008-
San Francisco Giants
6 years: 1991-1997; 5 years: 2005-2010
1 year: 1994-1995; 2 years: 1998-2000; 9+ years: 2004- (2 GM, 7 managers)
St. Louis Cardinals
6 years: 1990-1996; 3 years: 1997-200; 2 years: 2007-2009
Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays
10 years: 1998-2008 (2 GM, 4 managers)
4 years: 1992-1996; 1 year: 1997-1998; 10 years: 2000-2010 (3 GM, 4 managers)
6 years: 2006-2012
- The average length between losing season and playoff season is 5.2 years.
- The median length is 5 years.
- The most frequent length is one year; however, much of those data points are good teams that had one poor season sandwiched between good ones. The second most frequent is 6 years.
- In those instances where there was 8+ years between losing season and playoff berth, only one team, the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays, employed less than 3 GMs during that time (and they employed 2).
From this data, I conclude that giving a GM a time of between 5-6 years is ample enough time to build a playoff contender. I understand and espouse using a medium to long term process in order to build a contender--as the data shows, many teams take between 4 and 6 years or so to become playoff contenders. Unfortunately for Moore, he has not done this and, furthermore, has not even accomplished a single winning season. This ultimately makes Moore a failure--but it also makes him a liar.