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Where the Royals stand after 40 games

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It is NOT the quarter-pole

We are 40 games into the season (which is NOT the quarter-pole), and while the season has not exactly gone the way most Royals fans would have liked, the team has played a bit better recently, winning 10 of their last 16. Their 17-23 record is the worst franchise record after 40 games since 2012.

Royals After 40 games Full season
W L W L
2017 17 23 ? ?
2016 20 20 81 81
2015 26 14 95 67
2014 20 20 89 73
2013 20 20 86 76
2012 16 24 72 90
2011 20 20 71 91
2010 15 25 67 95
2009 21 19 65 97
2008 19 21 75 87
2007 13 27 69 93

Despite some offensive improvement, the Royals are still dead last in all of baseball in runs scored.  The Royals have been outscored by 42 runs - only the Padres and Giants have a worse run-differential. The Royals have been particularly bad in their own division, a division they hoped to rack up wins against some rebuilding franchises. Kansas City is just 3-12 against Central Division foes, including 0-5 against the Twins, who they went 15-4 against in 2016.

The pitching started off great, but has regressed to the middle of the pack. The Royals are eighth in the American League in ERA at 4.16, but fifth in FIP at 3.95. They have had the best rate of home runs allowed, perhaps by not letting Chris Young pitch much.The Royals have flipped the script this year, relying on a good rotation - which is fourth in ERA at 3.73, while the bullpen has struggled with a 4.91 ERA, fourth-worst in the AL.

The defense is no longer the best in baseball, but it is still quite good, measuring as the third-best in all of baseball, according to Fangraphs. They are a middle-of-the-road baserunning team, as measured by Baserunning Runs. After a slow start, their 24 stolen bases now rank fifth in the American League.

Playoff odds:

Baseball Prospectus: 2.9% to make the playoffs, 1.4% to win division, 1.4% to win Wild Card

Fangraphs: 3.1% to make the playoffs, 1.2% to win division, 1.9% to win Wild Card

Fivethirtyeight: 5% to make the playoffs, 3% to win division

The odds of the Royals making the playoffs are pretty low at this point, even though it is still quite early in the year. Jim McLennan at AZ Snakepit took a look at all the teams from 1998 to 2016, to see what record each team had after 40 games and how many of them made the playoffs.

Record Playoffs Non-playoff Percentage
28+ 10 3 76.9%
27-13 6 2 75.0%
26-14 8 6 57.1%
25-15 20 11 64.5%
24-16 17 11 60.7%
23-17 27 31 46.6%
22-18 24 31 43.6%
21-19 15 43 25.9%
20-20 11 43 20.4%
19-21 9 58 13.4%
18-22 7 37 15.9%
17-23 6 29 17.1%
< 17 2 103 1.9%

So perhaps it is not impossible for the Royals to come back - eight teams have been in their position or worse in the last decade and made the playoffs. The Royals only find themselves 4.5 games back in the standings, as the Indians have yet to take off. On the schedule, 13 of the next 16 games for the Royals are against Central Division opponents, including six against the Indians, so a hot two weeks could vault them back into the race.

On pace

It is always fun to play the "on pace" game, even though players rarely hit consistently over the course of an entire season. The player many Royals fans are watching, of course, is Mike Moustakas, who is currently on pace to break the single-season franchise home run record, currently held by Steve Balboni, who hit 36 in 1985. Moustakas hit his tenth home run last night, which would put him on pace to hit roughly 40 home runs this year.

Others "on pace":

  • Salvador Perez is on pace to drive in 92 runs
  • Whit Merrifield is on pace to hit 16 home runs
  • Lorenzo Cain is on pace to steal 44 bases
  • Brandon Moss is on pace to strike out 152 times
  • Jason Vargas is on pace to win 20 games
  • Jason Hammel is on pace to lose 20 games
  • Kelvin Herrera is on pace for 32 saves
  • Travis Wood is on pace to give up 72 runs as a reliever

What do you think after 40 games? Has your expectations on the season changed?