Last Friday, I crunched the numbers in comparing the position players on the World Series Champion Kansas City Royals and the Shadow Royals. Contrary to my assumption heading into that portion of the exercise, the Shadow Royals' batsmen actually compared quite favorably with their real-life counterparts.
For the random person walking into this piece, I should probably catch you up a bit.
If you have no idea what this simulation business is, four offseasons ago, Max decided he wanted to see what would happen if 30 different people took the reins of a major-league baseball team, acting as the general manager and building the team for the next season in their vision. The vast majority of the participants were plucked from their respective team's SBN team site. A large chunk were on that site's masthead.
30 real people fake-managing 30 teams. Each inherited his or her respective team's roster and system at season's end. No fictional teams constructed without the hurdle of having to negotiate trades and free agent contracts with another person. Every player brought in on every team was the product of a back-and-forth between two human beings trying to better their respective clubs at the expense of their partner. Each team was built in the vision of its new general manager.
OMD's 2015 Shadow Royals in review - The Batsmen
Measuring the 2015 Shadow Royals against the World Series winning real-world version of the Kansas City Royals.
Rather than simply armchair general manage, I raised my cyber hand to take the reins in this simulative scenario. Rather than blithely trumpet some nonsensical superiority over the real man in charge, I felt it necessary to hold myself accountable for my actions at the close of each season, comparing the real-life Royals to the Shadow Royals that I constructed.
This exercise is just an exercise. Dayton Moore's job as the Royals' General Manager is considerably harder than this exercise was for me. Drawing too much meaning from my performance as a fake decision maker is ludicrous.
That said, when competing against fellow amateurs, my Shadow Royals teams have favorably compared to the real incarnations of the Royals in each of the previous seasons while working on a significantly lower budget in each of the simulations, thanks in large part to the Royals exceeding what they state early in the offseason will be the club's payroll the next season.
The 2015 Shadow Royals were constructed with the soft internal salary cap of $100M which was later raised to $105M. They came in under budget at $101M. The real Royals' Opening Day payroll came in at just a shade under $113M, and that doesn't include the payroll added in the form of Johnny Cueto, Ben Zobrist (which was offset by the Shadow Royals also trading for him), or Jonny Gomes (who was already a Shadow Royal), nor does it include the roughly $3M in performance bonuses that Chris Young hit.
With the position players already having been compared, let us move on to the next chapter.
Royals Pitching Staff
You know these guys well. The real Royals pitchers looked like this:
The Royals' pitching staff accumulated 13.4 fWAR and 16.4 rWAR, averaging out to 14.9 avgWAR. They did so in 1,452.0 innings pitched.
Shadow Royals pitching staff
If you care to see how they were constructed, I would encourage you to go back and look at the end-of-simulation wrap-up piece.
I will note that the Shadow Royals contacted Chris Young about signing as a minor-league free agent, and he remained unsigned at the end of the simulation. While it wouldn't be in the spirit of the simulation, it is no stretch of the imagination to assume that Young would have signed with this incarnation of the Royals as late in the Spring as he did with the real Royals. I have championed Young as a fit for the Royals at nearly every turn, doing so well before he signed in Kansas City. Keep that in mind, as there is no reason not to think that the Shadow Royals could have bolstered their output by a Chris Young in 2015.
As multiple pieces needed to acquire Johnny Cueto were traded in the simulation, it is unlikely that the Shadow Royals would have been able to acquire him, so for the sake of comparing the two teams, the Shadow Royals are out of luck in adding his value to their totals.
Without further ado, the Shadow Royals' pitchers of 2015 (players unique to the Shadow Royals in bold; those signed on minor-league deals will additionally be noted with an asterisk(*), italicized players are Shadow Royals who did not leave the Shadow Royals but left the real Royals):
Without adjusting for playing time and totaling 1,145.0 innings, the Shadow Royals pitching staff amassed 11.8 fWAR and 16.6 rWAR. Without adjustments, they totaled 14.2 avgWAR. In other words, with a deficit of 307 to make up, the Shadow Royals trailed the real Royals by 1.6 fWAR, surpassed them by 0.2 rWAR, and came in 0.7 avgWAR behind.
When looking at the above players, there is one thing that must be accounted for before adjusting innings. That is how many starts were made. The Shadow Royals starting pitchers made the following number of starts: Zimmermann (33), Ventura (28), Dickey (33), Duffy (24), Pena (5), Finnegan (4), Pino (1), Johnson (1), Baker (2). That is a total of 140.
The Shadow Royals also signed Luis Mendoza to a minor-league deal. The man, the mane, the legend made 25 starts in Japan and totaled 148.2 innings. While I could reasonably make an adjustment to Edwin Jackson's totals to turn him into a starter, gaining marginal value in rWAR, I'll leave his totals untouched. I could also revisit the idea of adding Chris Young's totals--again, he was unsigned in the sim and I did extend a minor-league offer to him and would have gone further if given the time--to the mix, but that somehow seems unfair, despite my well-established interest in him.
Add Mendoza's 25 starts to the total, and it pushes the Shadow Royals over 162. Presumably one of the lesser starters sees his innings moved to the pen's totals. As Mendoza is roughly replacement level, there is no need to tweak any of the WAR measurements. This leaves the Royals with 158.1 IP left for which to account.
SB Nation 2014 Off-season Simulation debriefing
What a wild few days. Let's take a look at the carnage and check to see if the Phillies are still in the league.
The clearest of adjustments can come from Louis Coleman. The much thinner pen of the Royals would have needed his services much more than the real ones did. Coleman threw 64.0 innings in Omaha and did so effectively--1.69 ERA and 3.57 FIP with a K/BB slightly better than career minor-league numbers, indicating that Coleman was who we thought he was in 2015. Rather than multiply his 0.1 rWAR by 22.3 times to scale it to his usage, we'll use his career WARs rated out to 67.0 IP. That means we'll move him up to 0.1 fWAR and 1.1 rWAR, or a 0.6 avgWAR.
Michael Mariot threw for 62.0 IP in Omaha. His numbers were a bit improved from his 2014 stint in AAA, so we'll assume performance roughly equivalent to what he's done in the Majors since first getting called up in 2014. This turns his value into -0.2 fWAR, -1.2 rWAR, and -0.7 avgWAR.
It probably makes the most sense to pull the remainder of the 32.1 innings from Ariel Pena and Scott Alexander. Alexander was replacement level for 6.0 innings, and would have been for another 12.1 innings for the Shadow Royals. Pena threw 82.2 IP in AAA before his call-up in Milwaukee and did much of it in relief. We'll add 20 IP to Ariel Pena's ML-total, increasing his value to 0.7 fWAR, 0.2 rWAR, and 0.45 avgWAR.
- Luis Mendoza +148.2 IP - replacement level
- Louis Coleman +64.0 IP - +0.1 fWAR, +1.0 rWAR, +0.55 avgWAR
- Michael Mariot +62.0 IP - -0.1 fWAR, -1.2 rWAR, -0.65 avgWAR
- Scott Alexander +12.1 IP - no change, replacement level
- Ariel Pena +20.0 IP - +0.3 fWAR, +0.1 rWAR, +0.2 avgWAR
This adds 0.3 fWAR, subtracts 0.1 rWAR, and adds 0.1 avgWAR to the Shadow Royals' totals, bringing post-adjustment totals to 12.1 fWAR, 16.5 rWAR, and 14.3 avgWAR.
When all was said and done, the real and adjusted Shadow Royals compared as follows:
Once again, the Shadow Royals were constructed on a tighter budget than their real-life counterparts. The Shadow Royals' payroll came in at $101M, which was roughly $12M lower than Dayton Moore ended up having to spend on his opening day payroll. It should probably be noted that key Royals contributors Kendrys Morales, Ryan Madson, and Chris Young went unsigned in the sim--hell, Madson wasn't even available to the owners as an option. The addition of Chris Young to the Shadow Royals would have bumped them up considerably over what Luis Mendoza's replacement level value did, further padding what was already a 1.15 avgWAR advantage.
There are obviously variables that don't come into play in this superficial comparative analysis. Intangibles are precisely that. Bullpen is at least theoretically slightly undervalued in these calculations, and there is no way that the Shadow Royals bullpen would have been as good as the Royals' was with Madson. Then again, I easily could have adjusted pitchers' totals like Brandon Finnegan or Yohan Pino, whose adjustments would have been more advantageous than the modest adjustments I made to Coleman, Mariot, and Alexander, the first two essentially canceling out one another.
At least on paper, it is easy to argue that the Shadow Royals once again outperformed the real-life version of the Royals--something I was almost certain I would be unable to say--and yet again they did so with a lower payroll. Some of the trades may have cost the Shadow Royals in the future, but for where they are on the win-curve, those were likely justifiable moves.