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Hok Talk: Overly optimistic projections

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The Royals will not be this good.

Cleveland Indians v Kansas City Royals
Adalberto Mondesi sure had a lot of good swings.
Photo by Brian Davidson/Getty Images

We all know the Royals had a winning month in September. I think perhaps the fact that it was a WINNING MONTH in a 100-loss season has overshadowed the fact that even in their very best month the team only managed to go 15-13. Stretch that out over a full season and you get 86 wins. Which probably isn’t enough for a playoff spot. But the September team didn’t have Danny Duffy or Jorge Soler. What if next year’s team did?

People often complain that the writers on this website aren’t nearly positive enough. So I decided to come up with the absolutely most optimistic projections for the next season that I can. The Royals almost certainly won’t be this good. For one thing, they’re unlikely to go the entire season without injuries, despite what my projection relying on that assumption.

Anyway, let me show you the numbers and then I can explain them a bit.

Introducing hWAR

Player Position hWAR
Player Position hWAR
Salvador Perez C 2
Ryan O'Hearn 1B 2.7
Whit Merrifield 2B 5.2
Adalberto Mondesi SS 5.6
Alex Gordon LF 1.6
Brett Phillips CF 2.2
Brian Goodwin RF 3.3
Jorge Soler DH 2.7
Danny Duffy SP 2.2
Jakob Junis SP 2
Brad Keller SP 3.8
Ian Kennedy SP 1
Heath Fillmyer SP 1.5
Tim Hill RP 0.4
Scatt Barlow RP 0.6
Kevin McCarthy RP 0.4
Ben Lively RP 0.3
Eric Skoglund RP 0.1
Brian Flynn RP 0
Wily Peralta RP 0
Jason Adam RP -0.2
37.4 wins!

OK. So the general idea of how I generated this was I took the best fWARs from FanGraphs for this season, projected them out over a full season, and then added on some wins to some of the younger pitchers on the theory that they’ll improve because they’re young.

You’ll note that jWAR doesn’t foresee any regression for anyone. That is because this is the most positive rejection I can conceive of. Nobody gets worse. Nobody gets hurt. All the young guys improve - except Adalberto Mondesi because he’s already overwhelmingly good in this projection.

So what stands out in the hWAR projections?

Well, the most important thing you’ll notice is that Mondesi is projected to be the most valuable player out of the group. If these projections were to come to life my question a few weeks ago about whether he and Whit Merrifield could be worth more than 5 fWAR together would seem hilariously stupid as they’re each projected to be worth more than that, individually. Another thing I’d point out is how hilariously weak that bullpen is, even after I arbitrarily added fractions of wins to the younger guys. Brian Goodwin also surprised me with how well he projected out.

But here is the most important part of these amazingly and arbitrarily optimistic projections. The Royals, if they met all of these projections would win...

86 games.

Most analysts agree that a team entirely built of replacement players, each worth 0 WAR, would win approximately 48 games. Add 38 games to that and you get 86 wins. These projections are insanely optimistic. The chances of the Royals hitting these numbers are astronomical. And the very, very best the Royals would expect to achieve with their current roster is 86 wins. That might be enough to squeak you into a playoff spot, but probably not. And that’s the best this roster is likely to achieve.

Which takes us back to what Dayton Moore said, before. That the rebuild is over. That he doesn’t want people to even use that word. If the rebuild is over then we, the fans, are being betrayed by the team’s front office. This roster can’t realistically compete. And if they’re not trying to drastically improve the roster - whether through immediate, drastic free agency/trades or through trades and signings for the future - then they aren’t actually trying to win. They’re trying to not lose. Which is the absolute worst approach you can take to sports.

People who have watched the Chiefs for the last 30 years know all about this. The football team across the parking lot has tried to not lose. They’ve traded for and signed “game manager” after “game manager” in an attempt to just not lose to the other team. The last five years have seen people weep and gnash their teeth because the Chiefs didn’t bother to put away opponents in the late game; they just tried to control the ball and not lose. And all they’ve gotten for their efforts is a team that’s just good enough to be the first loser.

This has always been the fear with Dayton Moore’s approach. He wants so desperately to not lose that he’s willing to forsake possible future wins so he can avoid losing now. Maybe he’s talking a big game and he’ll actually deal guys like Merrifield and Salvador Perez this off-season to continue to bolster the minor leagues. Or maybe the Royals will have a sudden, massive influx of luck and a lot of guys currently in their system will turn out to be significantly better than we expect them to and the team will be a contender in short order no matter what the Royals do in 2019.

The only thing that remains clear is that the Royals should not be considered legitimate contenders in 2019.

Poll

Will the Royals win more than 86 games, next year?

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    Absolutely! You’re still underestimating this roster!
    (74 votes)
  • 7%
    All signs point to them winning exactly 86.
    (65 votes)
  • 55%
    Probably not.
    (457 votes)
  • 27%
    They’re going to be lucky not to lose 100 again.
    (229 votes)
825 votes total Vote Now