One year ago today, the Royals faced off against a last place Red Sox club with the Royals still clinging onto playoff contention in late July. The Red Sox got some good shots off James Shields, but after five innings, the Royals led 4-1 off Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz. In the sixth, Shields gave up a two-run home run to Xander Bogaerts, followed by a double by Stephen Drew to put the game-tying run in scoring position. With light-hitting left-handed hitter Jackie Bradley Jr. on deck, Royals manager Ned Yost elected to put lefty reliever Scott Downs into the game.
Yost failed to anticipate the Red Sox would counter by pinch-hitting Bradley with lefty-masher Jonny Gomes. Gomes promptly hit a two-run home run to give the Red Sox a 5-4 lead they would not relinquish. Yost would later say after the game, "I outsmarted myself." The Royals fell to 48-47, 6 1/2 games back of the division lead, and while they were just 2 1/2 games back of a Wild Card spot, they were in a crowded field of mediocrity.
I will always remember that game because I spent the game following on my phone in the hospital, awaiting the birth of my third son, Henry. In fact, it was just after my son was born that Gomes hit his home run. Within minutes, the screams of a newborn baby were replaced by the screams of a full-grown man yelling expletives at his phone.
After that day, everything changed, not just for our crowded family, but for the Royals as well. Even though the Royals would go on to be swept that weekend, they would still go 41-26 after the Gomes/Downs game, making up 5 1/2 games on the Tigers to finish one game back and grab the first Wild Card spot. They went on their magical post-season run, then got off to their sensational first-half start this year.
In fact, my son Henry has never seen anything but dominant Royals baseball. Since he was born, the Royals have gone 94-62 (.603), or 105-66 (.614) if you want to count the post-season. Let's take a quick look at how the Royals have done individually over the last calendar year:
Here are the hitters who have been on the team from 2014-2015:
Lorenzo's fWAR is the fifth-highest among position players in all of baseball, behind only Josh Donaldson, Mike Trout, Buster Posey, and Bryce Harper. Alex Gordon is eighth. Those are pretty deserving All-Stars.
On the flip side, those on-base percentages by Salvador Perez and Omar Infante are the two worst in baseball over that time.
Here is how our new friends have fared, combining their numbers with their team last year with this year's numbers:
Rios' fWAR is tied for fifth-worst among position players in baseball over that time. If you're still a big RBI fan, Morales would be tied for 21st in baseball in that stat.
And some old friends with numbers combined with their numbers with their new team:
I''m a bit surprised Butler and Morales' numbers are nearly identical, but remember Butler came on a bit towards the end of last year while Morales was awful.
Now the pitching staff:
Wade Davis has given up five runs in the last calendar year. That is hilarious. FIVE. I can count that on one of Henry's cute little hands.
Jeremy Guthrie has won 15 games in the last calendar year because he has THE WILL TO WIN.
Some new friends:
Volquez has been pretty good for awhile now, although his ERA is still a bit deceptive. Chris Young has been a bargain and probably won't be getting a minor league deal next year.
How about one old friend.
Kind of amazing Volquez has nearly matched James Shields' numbers at a fraction of the price. Maybe Dayton Moore knew what he was doing after all.
All in all, its been a wonderful year for many reasons, enough to make this handsome fellow smile quite a bit.
Oh, the Royals are confounding your projections? DEAL WITH IT