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A 2017 Shadow Royals retrospective

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Old Man Duggan holds his own feet to the fire

Divisional Round - Houston Astros v Boston Red Sox - Game Three
2017 may not have been as bright, but Devers was a Shadow Royal
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, we completed the annual SBNation-wide GM offseason simulation that Max holds here at Royals Review. Helming the Shadow Royals for the fifth(?) straight year, yours truly showing the approach the Royals could take should they adopt a Luhnow-style, tear-it-down-to-the-studs rebuild. Whatever you may think of said approach, it definitely chose a path forward by taking a gigantic step backward in the short-term.

In last year’s sim, I also helmed the fantastical ship through a fictive offseason, one in which 29 individuals and myself decided the theoretical fates of his or her team heading into the 2017 season—an exercise at least theoretically instructive in that any changes to a team’s roster were done so by coming to terms with another person, not just wishcasting what could have happened. So, in the interest of venturing down the path of alternate history, let’s look at what might have happened if the Royals had employed a different approach last offseason.

For reference and time-stamped explanation, feel free to look back at my write-up from last year.

If you are unfamiliar with this series in the past, the Royals and Shadow Royals performance will be compared to one another by WAR. As there will likely be playing time issues in taking players from other teams where their usage would have differed and putting them all together on a single squad, playing time adjustments will further need to be made, prorating WAR as needed with explanations provided.

The first step in assessing the teams is to establish what the real 2017 Royals did.

[All stats henceforth come courtesy of FanGraphs, Baseball-Reference, and Baseball Prospectus]

2017 Royals Position Players

Player G PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR WARP avWAR
Player G PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR WARP avWAR
Lorenzo Cain 155 645 15 86 49 26 .300 .363 .444 .347 115 4.1 5.3 5.7 5.0
Eric Hosmer (L) 162 671 25 98 94 6 .318 .385 .498 .376 135 4.1 4.0 3.5 3.9
Whit Merrifield 145 630 19 80 78 34 .288 .324 .460 .332 105 3.1 3.9 2.3 3.1
Mike Moustakas (L) 148 598 38 75 85 0 .272 .314 .521 .345 114 2.2 1.8 1.8 1.9
Salvador Perez 129 499 27 57 80 1 .268 .297 .495 .329 103 2.1 2.5 0.7 1.8
Alcides Escobar 162 629 6 71 54 4 .250 .272 .357 .269 62 0.5 0.0 1.1 0.5
Jorge Bonifacio 113 422 17 55 40 1 .255 .320 .432 .323 99 0.9 0.5 -0.5 0.3
Cam Gallagher 13 27 1 2 5 0 .250 .333 .417 .326 101 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0
Christian Colon 7 19 0 1 0 0 .176 .222 .176 .185 4 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Ramon Torres (S) 33 79 0 9 4 1 .243 .291 .284 .257 54 0.0 -0.1 -0.3 -0.1
Billy Burns (S) 7 6 0 1 0 0 .167 .167 .167 .146 -22 -0.1 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1
Terrance Gore 12 5 0 2 0 2 .000 .200 .000 .139 -27 -0.1 -0.3 -0.1 -0.2
Alex Gordon (L) 148 541 9 52 45 7 .208 .293 .315 .269 62 0.0 0.1 -0.7 -0.2
Drew Butera 75 177 3 18 14 0 .227 .284 .319 .266 60 0.2 -0.4 -0.6 -0.3
Cheslor Cuthbert 58 153 2 10 18 0 .231 .275 .322 .261 56 -0.5 -0.5 -0.2 -0.4
Paulo Orlando 39 90 2 9 6 1 .198 .255 .302 .228 34 -0.4 -0.4 -0.6 -0.5
Raul Mondesi (S) 25 60 1 4 3 5 .170 .214 .245 .204 17 -0.2 -0.7 -0.6 -0.5
Brandon Moss (L) 118 401 22 41 50 2 .207 .279 .428 .301 84 -0.5 -1.0 -0.6 -0.7
Melky Cabrera (S) 58 238 4 24 29 1 .269 .303 .399 .300 83 -0.6 -1.0 -0.7 -0.8
Jorge Soler 35 110 2 7 6 0 .144 .245 .258 .226 32 -1.0 -1.4 -1.0 -1.1

In exactly 6000 PA spread amongst the position players, the Royals totaled 13.7 fWAR, 12.1 rWAR, and 9.0 WARP, averaging out to 11.6 WAR.

Moving on to the pitchers, they look like this:

2017 Royals pitchers

Name G GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP fWAR rWAR WARP avWAR
Name G GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP fWAR rWAR WARP avWAR
Danny Duffy (L) 24 24 146.1 8.00 2.52 0.80 .309 71.3 % 39.5 % 7.6 % 3.81 3.46 4.39 3.4 3.2 2.8 3.1
Jason Vargas (L) 32 32 179.2 6.71 2.91 1.35 .289 77.6 % 40.3 % 12.1 % 4.16 4.67 4.94 1.6 3.8 3.5 3.0
Mike Minor (L) 65 0 77.2 10.20 2.55 0.58 .272 78.1 % 42.4 % 6.3 % 2.55 2.62 3.59 2.1 2.8 2.0 2.3
Jason Hammel 32 32 180.1 7.24 2.40 1.30 .318 68.4 % 38.0 % 10.6 % 5.29 4.37 4.92 2.1 1.3 1.6 1.7
Scott Alexander (L) 58 0 69 7.70 3.65 0.39 .306 78.1 % 73.8 % 14.3 % 2.48 3.23 3.21 1.1 2.2 1.0 1.4
Joakim Soria 59 0 56 10.29 3.21 0.16 .329 67.1 % 54.8 % 2.9 % 3.70 2.23 3.08 1.7 1.1 1.3 1.4
Peter Moylan 79 0 59.1 6.98 3.79 0.61 .221 68.3 % 61.1 % 10.5 % 3.49 4.00 4.26 0.3 1.1 1.8 1.1
Jakob Junis 20 16 98.1 7.32 2.29 1.37 .294 72.8 % 40.1 % 12.3 % 4.30 4.55 4.77 0.9 1.3 0.9 1.0
Nathan Karns 9 8 45.1 10.13 2.58 1.79 .283 80.7 % 49.6 % 19.6 % 4.17 4.48 3.71 0.4 1.0 0.7 0.7
Ryan Buchter (L) 29 0 27 6.00 2.67 1.00 .173 74.6 % 32.5 % 7.0 % 2.67 4.49 5.88 0.1 0.6 0.1 0.3
Kelvin Herrera 64 0 59.1 8.49 3.03 1.37 .295 70.2 % 47.5 % 14.5 % 4.25 4.30 4.19 0.1 0.2 0.5 0.3
Al Alburquerque 11 0 10 8.10 5.40 0.00 .259 69.2 % 55.6 % 0.0 % 3.60 3.16 4.58 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.1
Kevin McCarthy 33 0 45 5.40 2.60 0.80 .303 69.7 % 54.2 % 9.5 % 3.20 3.98 4.48 0.2 0.4 -0.3 0.1
Sam Gaviglio 4 2 12 6.75 3.75 0.75 .316 85.2 % 56.4 % 11.1 % 3.00 4.24 4.49 0.2 0.4 -0.4 0.1
Mike Morin 6 0 5.2 9.53 4.76 0.00 .421 54.6 % 42.1 % 0.0 % 7.94 2.63 4.83 0.1 -0.1 0.1 0.0
Ian Kennedy 30 30 154 7.66 3.56 1.99 .257 68.2 % 36.0 % 15.7 % 5.38 5.61 5.25 -0.2 0.5 -0.2 0.0
Brian Flynn (L) 1 0 2.1 0.00 0.00 0.00 .375 66.7 % 37.5 % 0.0 % 3.86 3.16 5.44 0.0 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Seth Maness 8 0 9.2 3.72 1.86 2.79 .361 94.2 % 51.3 % 33.3 % 3.72 6.99 4.61 -0.2 0.1 0.0 0.0
Neftali Feliz 20 0 19 7.58 3.79 0.47 .291 61.0 % 35.7 % 4.5 % 4.74 3.58 4.95 0.1 0.0 -0.3 -0.1
Miguel Almonte 2 0 2 0.00 9.00 0.00 .500 57.1 % 50.0 % 0.0 % 13.50 6.16 8.83 0.0 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Matt Strahm (L) 24 3 34.2 9.61 5.71 1.56 .279 70.8 % 37.1 % 15.4 % 5.45 5.44 5.19 -0.2 -0.1 0.1 -0.1
Luke Farrell 1 1 2.2 6.75 10.13 3.38 .500 58.1 % 33.3 % 14.3 % 16.88 9.91 9.70 -0.1 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1
Andres Machado 2 0 3.2 2.45 7.36 4.91 .444 39.2 % 50.0 % 25.0 % 22.09 12.16 8.95 -0.2 -0.3 -0.2 -0.2
Onelki Garcia (L) 2 1 6 3.00 7.50 3.00 .435 56.3 % 56.0 % 22.2 % 13.50 9.32 7.66 -0.2 -0.3 -0.2 -0.2
Brandon Maurer 26 0 20 9.45 4.95 1.80 .435 68.5 % 31.5 % 14.8 % 8.10 5.31 5.11 -0.1 -0.5 -0.3 -0.3
Eric Skoglund (L) 7 5 18 7.00 6.00 1.00 .431 56.1 % 36.4 % 7.7 % 9.50 5.05 6.17 0.1 -0.6 -0.8 -0.4
Chris Young 14 2 30 6.60 4.20 2.10 .385 67.1 % 40.5 % 17.9 % 7.50 6.22 5.50 -0.3 -0.5 -0.6 -0.5
Trevor Cahill 10 3 23 5.87 8.22 3.91 .319 82.5 % 53.1 % 45.5 % 8.22 10.24 6.29 -1.0 -0.5 0.1 -0.5
Travis Wood (L) 28 3 41.2 6.26 4.32 0.86 .369 61.6 % 42.1 % 7.5 % 6.91 4.53 5.54 0.1 -0.6 -1.6 -0.7

In 1437.2 innings, the Royals pitchers amassed 12.2 fWAR, 16.4 rWAR, and 11.4 WARP as a group, good for a group average of 13.3 WAR.

When totaling the wins accumulated by both the Royals’ position players and pitchers, they notched 25.9 fWAR, 28.5 rWAR, and 20.4 WARP, good for an average of 24.9 WAR.

The 2017 Shadow Royals

Having established the baseline for performance by which to compare my efforts against, let us move on to the Shadow Royals. This is how the Shadow Royals’ position players looked before adjusting for playing time:

2017 Shadow Royals position players

Player G PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR WARP avWAR
Player G PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR WARP avWAR
Steven Souza Jr. 148 617 30 78 78 16 .239 .351 .459 .348 120 3.7 4.2 1.9 3.3
Whit Merrifield 145 630 19 80 78 34 .288 .324 .460 .332 105 3.1 3.9 2.3 3.1
Mike Moustakas (L) 148 598 38 75 85 0 .272 .314 .521 .345 114 2.2 1.8 1.8 1.9
Salvador Pérez 129 499 27 57 80 1 .268 .297 .495 .329 103 2.1 2.5 0.7 1.8
Adam Frazier (L) 121 454 6 55 53 9 .276 .344 .399 .322 97 1.1 1.8 1.7 1.5
Rafael Devers (L) 58 240 10 34 30 3 .284 .338 .482 .344 111 0.9 1.3 1.7 1.3
Adeiny Hechavarria 97 348 8 37 30 4 .261 .289 .406 .295 83 1.3 1.5 0.9 1.2
Jorge Bonifacio 113 422 17 55 40 1 .255 .320 .432 .323 99 0.9 0.5 -0.5 0.3
Deven Marrero 71 188 4 32 27 5 .211 .259 .333 .257 51 0.2 0.5 -0.1 0.2
Cam Gallagher 13 27 1 2 5 0 .250 .333 .417 .326 101 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.0
Willy García 44 119 2 15 12 0 .238 .305 .400 .301 86 0.0 -0.3 0.2 0.0
Christian Colón 24 57 0 4 0 0 .160 .236 .180 .188 9 -0.2 -0.1 -0.2 -0.2
Ramón Torres (S) 33 79 0 9 4 1 .243 .291 .284 .257 54 0.0 -0.1 -0.3 -0.1
Billy Burns (S) 7 6 0 1 0 0 .167 .167 .167 .146 -22 -0.1 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1
Terrance Gore 12 5 0 2 0 2 .000 .200 .000 .139 -27 -0.1 -0.3 -0.1 -0.2
Alex Gordon (L) 148 541 9 52 45 7 .208 .293 .315 .269 62 0.0 0.1 -0.7 -0.2
Drew Butera 75 177 3 18 14 0 .227 .284 .319 .266 60 0.2 -0.4 -0.6 -0.3
Cheslor Cuthbert 58 153 2 10 18 0 .231 .275 .322 .261 56 -0.5 -0.5 -0.2 -0.4
Raúl Mondesí (S) 25 60 1 4 3 5 .170 .214 .245 .204 17 -0.2 -0.7 -0.6 -0.5
Alen Hanson (S) 106 234 4 36 11 11 .221 .262 .346 .261 59 -0.8 -0.6 -0.5 -0.6
Mike Napoli 124 485 29 60 66 1 .193 .285 .428 .302 81 -0.5 -0.4 -1.4 -0.8
Danny Espinosa (S) 93 295 6 30 31 4 .173 .245 .278 .232 41 -1.0 -1.5 -1.1 -1.2

Before any adjustments, the Shadow Royals logged 6,234 PA (234 more than their real-life counterparts) and were worth 12.3 fWAR, 13.0 rWAR, and 4.8 WARP, averaging 10.0 Wins between the three measures.

The first thing that must be done is to establish when players were injured, as that will play a big part in ascertaining when which players will get what playing time needs to be retroactively reallocated.

  • Adam Frazier - injured 4/23 - 5/11 and 8/28 - 9/7
  • Adeiny Hechavarria - injured 4/9 - 4/19 and 5/10 - 6/26
  • Willy García - injured 8/1 - 9/14
  • Billy Burns - injured 5/14 - 5/20
  • Alex Gordon - paternity list 5/21 - 5/23
  • Cheslor Cuthbert - injured 6/28 - 8/7
  • Raúl Mondesí - injured 7/9 - 8/2
  • Mike Napoli - injured 6/4 - 6/15

Having established when players were injured, it makes sense to establish a hierarchical positional depth chart:

  • Catcher - Salvador Pérez, Drew Butera, Justin O’Conner
  • First base - Mike Napoli, Cheslor Cuthbert, Danny Espinosa
  • Second base - Whit Merrifield, Adam Frazier, Danny Espinosa, Christian Colón, Ramón Torres, Raúl Mondesī
  • Shortstop - Adeiny Hechavarria, Danny Espinosa, Christian Colón, Adam Frazier, Ramón Torres, Raúl Mondesí
  • Third base - Mike Moustakas, Rafael Devers, Deven Marrero, Cheslor Cuthbert, Danny Espinosa
  • Left field - Adam Frazier, Whit Merrifield, Alex Gordon, Jorge Bonifacio, Billy Burns, Willy García
  • Center field - Alex Gordon, Billy Burns, Willy García
  • Right field - Steven Souza, Jorge Bonifacio, Willy García
  • Designated hitter - Jorge Bonifacio, Mike Moustakas, Mike Napoli, Rafael Devers

All right. First things first. There’s no reason to have Mondesí burning service time on the major-league roster at all. The Shadow Royals have enough depth at second and short that he needn’t burn any service time on a team deep enough up the middle to not require it.

No Mondesí: +0.2 fWAR, +0.7 rWAR, +0.6 WARP, +0.5 avWAR, -60 PA

Alen Hanson never smells this 25-man roster either.

No Hanson: +0.8 fWAR, +0.6 rWAR, +0.5 WARP, +0.6 avWAR, -234 PA

Espinosa would have been pressed into duty fairly often between April 9 and June 26 with either Frazier or Hechavarria on the DL for much of that time, but there was no point in retaining Danny Espinosa past June 26, Hechavarria’s last day on the DL. He’s far enough down the depth chart at a lot of positions that there’s no way he would have gotten nearly 300 PA. He had 211 PA between those points, and there were a few days in between where both fixtures in the lineup were healthy simultaneously. We’ll take him down to an even 200 PA, reducing his impact by roughly one-third.

Reduce Espinosa PA by 95: +0.3 fWAR, +0.5 rWAR, +0.4 WARP, +0.4 avWAR, -95 PA

Christian Colón—who you’ll note has his playing time in Miami added to his Shadow Royal totals—would not have been cut loose by the Shadow Royals. Moreover, between injuries to Hechavarria, Frazier, and Cuthbert running nearly continuously into early August and the ineffectiveness of Mike Napoli likely forcing Mike Moustakas—whose ailing knee could definitely have used the rest—into increased playing time at designated hitter, Colón would have been relied upon much more heavily. We’ll triple his playing time.

Increase Colón PA by 114: -0.4 fWAR, -0.2 rWAR, -0.4 WARP, -0.3 avWAR, +114 PA

As playing time in the outfield is pretty well claimed by the combination of Souza, Gordon, Frazier, and Bonifacio (who would also have been getting DH reps), the 40 PA remaining to get back to 6,000 go to Ramón Torres, I guess.

Increase Torres PA by 40: +0.0 fWAR, +0.0 rWAR, -0.2 WARP, -0.1 avWAR, +40 PA

The lack of Cam Gallagher means that the obtained Justin O’Conner probably picks up his 27 PA and also plays replacement level baseball, so we needn’t get to granular on figuring that little bit of business out. This brings the adjustments to an end.

Taken in total, the Shadow Royals position players WAR totals change by the following measures after adjustments:

  • +0.9 fWAR - total 13.2 fWAR
  • +1.6 rWAR - total 14.6 rWAR
  • +0.9 WARP - total 5.7 WARP
  • +1.1 avWAR - total 11.2 avWAR

Craning our necks to look at the pitching side of things, we’ll see the following:

2017 Shadow Royals pitchers

Name G GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP fWAR rWAR WARP avWAR
Name G GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP xFIP fWAR rWAR WARP avWAR
Danny Duffy (L) 24 24 146.1 8.00 2.52 0.80 .309 71.3 % 39.5 % 7.6 % 3.81 3.46 4.39 3.4 3.2 2.8 3.1
Jason Vargas (L) 32 32 179.2 6.71 2.91 1.35 .289 77.6 % 40.3 % 12.1 % 4.16 4.67 4.94 1.6 3.8 3.5 3.0
Mike Minor (L) 65 0 77.2 10.20 2.55 0.58 .272 78.1 % 42.4 % 6.3 % 2.55 2.62 3.59 2.1 2.8 2.0 2.3
Luis Castillo 15 15 89.1 9.87 3.22 1.11 .247 80.1 % 58.8 % 17.2 % 3.12 3.74 3.41 1.7 2.5 2.2 2.1
Joakim Soria 59 0 56 10.29 3.21 0.16 .329 67.1 % 54.8 % 2.9 % 3.70 2.23 3.08 1.7 1.1 1.3 1.4
Peter Moylan 79 0 59.1 6.98 3.79 0.61 .221 68.3 % 61.1 % 10.5 % 3.49 4.00 4.26 0.3 1.1 1.8 1.1
Jesse Chavez 38 21 138 7.76 2.93 1.83 .306 71.9 % 41.1 % 18.3 % 5.35 5.09 4.43 0.3 -0.1 0.8 0.3
Kevin McCarthy 33 0 45 5.40 2.60 0.80 .303 69.7 % 54.2 % 9.5 % 3.20 3.98 4.48 0.2 0.4 -0.3 0.1
Ian Kennedy 30 30 154 7.66 3.56 1.99 .257 68.2 % 36.0 % 15.7 % 5.38 5.61 5.25 -0.2 0.5 -0.2 0.0
Louis Coleman 50 64 - - - - - - - - - - - 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Drew Smyly 0 0 0 - - - - - - - - - - 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Luke Hochevar 0 0 0 - - - - - - - - - - 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
Brian Flynn (L) 1 0 2.1 0.00 0.00 0.00 .375 66.7 % 37.5 % 0.0 % 3.86 3.16 5.44 0.0 0.0 -0.1 0.0
Miguel Almonte 2 0 2 0.00 9.00 0.00 .500 57.1 % 50.0 % 0.0 % 13.50 6.16 8.83 0.0 -0.1 -0.1 -0.1
Matt Strahm (L) 24 3 34.2 9.61 5.71 1.56 .279 70.8 % 37.1 % 15.4 % 5.45 5.44 5.19 -0.2 -0.1 0.1 -0.1
Steven Brault (L) 11 4 34.2 5.97 3.63 0.78 .317 68.2 % 41.7 % 6.5 % 4.67 4.34 5.58 0.2 0.0 -0.5 -0.1
Mat Latos 3 3 15 6.00 4.80 3.00 .304 81.0 % 44.0 % 23.8 % 6.60 7.96 6.11 -0.3 -0.1 0.0 -0.1
Luke Farrell 1 1 2.2 6.75 10.13 3.38 .500 58.1 % 33.3 % 14.3 % 16.88 9.91 9.70 -0.1 -0.2 -0.1 -0.1
Ryne Stanek 21 0 20 13.05 5.40 2.70 .417 84.5 % 35.2 % 26.1 % 5.85 5.96 4.10 -0.3 -0.3 0.1 -0.2
Andres Machado 2 0 3.2 2.45 7.36 4.91 .444 39.2 % 50.0 % 25.0 % 22.09 12.16 8.95 -0.2 -0.3 -0.2 -0.2
Onelki Garcia (L) 2 1 6 3.00 7.50 3.00 .435 56.3 % 56.0 % 22.2 % 13.50 9.32 7.66 -0.2 -0.3 -0.2 -0.2
Richard Rodriguez 5 0 5.2 4.76 4.76 6.35 .400 67.3 % 45.8 % 40.0 % 14.29 13.39 7.36 -0.3 -0.3 -0.3 -0.3
Chris Young 14 2 30 6.60 4.20 2.10 .385 67.1 % 40.5 % 17.9 % 7.50 6.22 5.50 -0.3 -0.5 -0.6 -0.5
Vance Worley 24 12 71.2 6.28 3.77 1.13 .378 64.5 % 48.6 % 13.0 % 6.91 4.90 4.98 0.1 -1.3 -1.0 -0.7

In 1289.1 innings, the Shadow Royals’ pitching staff racked up 9.9 fWAR, 12.2 rWAR, and 10.9 WARP, good for 11.0 avWAR before adjustment, and that’s counting Louis Coleman’s innings accrued in the minors (the Shadow Royals signed him to a major-league deal slightly above league-minimum) toward the total at replacement level, a fair assumption given his replacement level performance over the previous two campaigns.

Obviously, there is a 148.1 inning disparity to deal with here. In looking at starts made amongst the Shadow Royals, they are 14 shy of 162.

Before divvying up starts and redistributing innings, we should establish if/when any of these guys were injured.

Injuries:

  • Danny Duffy - injured 5/29 - 7/3, 8/23 - 9/16
  • Luis Castillo - shut down innings limit 9/7 - end of season
  • Joakim Soria - injured 8/16 - 9/16
  • Ian Kennedy - injured 5/5 - 5/20
  • Brian Flynn - injured beginning of the season - 5/26, 8/29 - end of season
  • Drew Smyly & Luke Hochevar - missed entire season
  • Miguel Almonte - injured 7/25 - end of the season
  • Matt Strahm - injured 7/2 - end of the season
  • Mat Latos - released by Toronto in real life 5/26, did not re-sign anywhere
  • Onelki Garcia - injured beginning of season - 5/3
  • Richard Rodriguez - injured 5/25 - 6/8

At the beginning of the season, the Smyly-less rotation (thanks, World Baseball Classic) would have been Duffy, Vargas, Kennedy, Jesse Chavez, and Mat Latos. Castillo—who was acquired via trade with Miami (run by Matt LaMar) for Paulo Orlando—charged into the rotation on 6/23 for Cincinnati, but it’s hard to imagine the Shadow Royals calling him up from AA - Northwest Arkansas before that point. He obviously slots in from 6/23 - 9/7.

Adjustments

Strahm only made three starts for the real Royals, but his presence on the 25-man roster would have pressed him into action to take Kennedy’s spot in the rotation when he went down, and he’d basically have stuck there until he went down with an injury that basically coincided with Duffy’s return. He had 14.2 innings in relief spread over a month before the real Royals put him in the rotation in a bind. For the sake of ease, we’ll assume six starts at 4.2 innings per (a bullish estimate), adding 13.1 innings to his total.

Increase Strahm IP by 13.1: -0.1 fWAR, other measures remain unchanged

Mat Latos was signed to a major-league deal for $2MM, so he’d have begun the season in the bigs. His real-life minor-league stats will be pushed into the major-league column. That’s six more games, five more starts, and 26.0 additional innings. It’s hard not to imagine him getting the boot when he got the boot from Toronto, as he wasn’t making enough to remain rostered, wasn’t playing well, and is rumored to be quite the jerk, likely a major contributor to why he looks to be out of baseball after getting jettisoned by six clubs in the last three seasons.

Increase Latos IP by 26.0: -0.2 fWAR, -0.1 rWAR, WARP unchanged, -0.1 avWAR

Having already logged time in the majors and repeating AAA in real life, it’s hard not to imagine Steven Brault being relied upon much more heavily by the Shadow Royals. We’ll give Brault the remaining three starts and a slew of relief appearances, upping his innings total by 35.

Increase Brault IP by 35.0: +0.2 fWAR, rWAR unchanged, -0.5 WARP, -0.1 avWAR

The starts have been accounted for now, so we move to the bullpen.

Kevin McCarthy threw 32.0 innings for Omaha. With this thin squad (and without the benefit of having midseason claims like Neftali Feliz or Mike Morin or the Padres acquired eating innings), those 32.0 innings all happen at the major league level.

Increase McCarthy IP by 32.0: +0.1 fWAR, +0.3 rWAR, -0.2 WARP, +0.1 avWAR

Richard Rodriguez probably makes the most sense to adjust next. He threw 70.1 sterling innings for Norfolk in his fourth go-round in the International League and 3.2 terrible ones for Baltimore. His innings are going to get a massive increase at the major-league level. Moving 20 IP to the majors and keeping everything in line with what he did in 3.2 miserable innings would turn him into a -2.9 avWAR pitcher. Given that Steamer600 projects him for -0.1 fWAR next season in 65 innings, that seems patently absurd. Between his rock solid performance across the board in the minors and the projection for this next season, I think I’m justified in tempering his negative impact significantly. Instead, I’ll adjust to -0.1 WAR across the board.

Increase Rodriguez IP by 20 IP: -0.1 fWAR, -0.1 rWAR, -0.1 WARP, -0.1 avWAR

Ryne Stanek was awesome in 44.2 minor-league innings last season and then not very good in 20 innings in Tampa (three poor outings proving to be his undoing). We’ll up his innings accrued at the major-league level by 20 to 40 even.

Increase Stanek IP by 20 IP: -0.3 fWAR, -0.3 rWAR, +0.1 WARP, -0.1 avWAR

Summing up the Shadow Royals’ pitching staff with their total adjustments:

  • -0.4 fWAR - total 9.5 fWAR
  • -0.2 rWAR - total 12.0 rWAR
  • -0.7 WARP - total 10.2 WARP
  • -0.4 avWAR - total 10.6 avWAR

Post-adjustment comparison

Here’s the nitty-gritty:

Royals vs. Shadow Royals

Wins Royals Shadow Royals
Wins Royals Shadow Royals
Pos fWAR 13.7 13.2
Pitch fWAR 12.2 9.5
Total fWAR 25.9 22.7
Pos rWAR 12.1 14.6
Pitch rWAR 16.4 12.0
Total rWAR 28.5 26.6
Pos WARP 9.0 5.7
Pitch WARP 11.4 10.2
Total WARP 20.4 15.9
Pos avWAR 11.6 11.2
Pitch avWAR 13.3 10.6
Total avWAR 24.9 21.7

So the Shadow Royals were a few wins worse than the real Royals, who finished an irrelevant two games under .500. Unlike their real-life counterparts, the Shadow Royals would likely have sold off whatever pieces could get dealt at the deadline, possibly barring Mike Moustakas, who would have yielded a draft pick in 2018.

The Shadow Royals weren’t built to completely tank, but they were only built to have an outside shot at competing.

What they did get was an extension of club control on good talent. There would be three more years of Steven Souza as he enters arbitration this offseason. Adam Frazier looks to be a solid, potentially league-average player (health permitting).

Oh, and there would be a Rafael Devers and Luis Castillo in house. Both flashed legitimate star potential in their debuts.

Devers was no surprise. Obtained in a deal that sent Lorenzo Cain to Boston in his last year of club control, he was the crowning achievement of the Shadow Royals’ offseason during the sim. In his age-20 season, he put up a 111 wRC+ in 58 games in the bigs. He didn’t turn 21 until after the season ended. He has perennial all-star written all over him.

Castillo was the BREAKOUT success story. He was electric. He was roughly a two-win pitcher in under 90 innings, with a fastball averaging over 97 MPH, solid change and slider, and whopping 58.8 GB%. What’s not to love?

Jake Junis and Scott Alexander were dealt away, as were Cam Gallagher and Foster Griffin, but those are the only likely contributors lost for the 2018 season with the exception of Kelvin Herrera.

The Shadow Royals’ payroll was also built on a more modest $132.5MM budget. That’s $13.4MM lower than the Royals’ Opening Day payroll was. That’s also with a Luke Hochevar contract that wouldn’t really have been guaranteed if medicals were availably and the sim weren’t conducted at the beginning of November. Of course, the Shadow Royals also dealt Yordano Ventura, so there’s a give-and-take there.

If given the chance to trade this offseason roster with the Shadow Royals’ offseason roster, I’d take the Shadow Royals going forward in a heartbeat, which given the ultimate irrelevance of the Royals’ season has to be a win for me. Many signings and trades didn’t work out spectacularly well, but adding Souza, Devers, Castillo, and Frazier to the core could be worth upwards of 10 WAR in 2018 alone.

Poll

How do you grade the 2017 Shadow Royals?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    A
    (7 votes)
  • 37%
    B
    (34 votes)
  • 16%
    C
    (15 votes)
  • 12%
    D
    (11 votes)
  • 22%
    Elvis
    (20 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (3 votes)
90 votes total Vote Now

Poll

Heading into the future, which Royals team would you rather have: the post-2017 real Royals or the post-2017 Shadow Royals?

This poll is closed

  • 19%
    Real
    (15 votes)
  • 80%
    Shadow
    (61 votes)
76 votes total Vote Now

Poll

If Rafael Devers were a Royals, would he be your favorite player?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Yes, duh
    (28 votes)
  • 48%
    No
    (37 votes)
  • 14%
    I can’t love Luis Castillo more?
    (11 votes)
76 votes total Vote Now