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The 2018 Royals might be one of the worst teams in the history of modern baseball

We knew they’d be bad, but not this bad.

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Kansas City Royals Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

We all knew the 2018 Royals would be a bad baseball team. With two of their best players departing in free agency, trading away two of their best relievers, and several early season injuries that depleted the team even further, it was clear this team would take a huge fall after a still below-average 2017 squad. But I would still guess most of us didn’t vision the Royals being this bad. To sample, if you simply take a look at the predictions from the Royals Review staff, you’ll see that most of the general consensus of this group thought the Royals were going to be a 70-75 win team that even had a legit chance at a third place finish in the division. It’s pretty easy to say though that we were all wrong. Very wrong.

A few weeks ago over at Beyond the Box Score, I made a statement backed up by evidence that the 2018 Astros might be the greatest team in the history of modern baseball. Most of my claim was backed up by things like per game run differential and pythagorean winning percentages. Now I’m making a very similar (but completely opposite) claim that the 2018 Royals are one of the worst teams in the history of modernized baseball. I’ll use a lot of the same analysis I used in that linked piece above to support my new claim.

Let’s start the first bullet point off simple. Looking at per game run differentials, the 2018 Royals are on pace to among the worst in the modern-era (I’m only going back to 1960 for this study).

10 Worst Per Game Run Differentials (1960-)

Season Team Games Runs Scored Runs Allowed Per Game Run Differential
Season Team Games Runs Scored Runs Allowed Per Game Run Differential
2003 Tigers 162 591 928 -2.080
1962 Mets 161 617 948 -2.056
1996 Tigers 162 783 1103 -1.975
2018 Royals 86 297 464 -1.942
2002 Tigers 161 575 864 -1.795
1974 Padres 162 541 830 -1.784
1979 Athletics 162 573 860 -1.772
2004 Diamondbacks 162 615 899 -1.753
2010 Pirates 162 587 866 -1.722
1969 Padres 162 468 746 -1.716

Out of 1,552 separate team seasons since 1960, the 2018 Royals are on pace to finish with the fourth-worst per game run differential. To build up more of an idea at how bad this season could look at its completion, here’s the final records of those nine other teams in that table.

  • 2003 Tigers: 43-119
  • 1962 Mets: 40-120
  • 1996 Tigers: 53-109
  • 2002 Tigers: 52-109
  • 1974 Padres: 51-111
  • 1979 Athletics: 52-110
  • 2004 Diamondbacks: 51-111
  • 2010 Pirates: 57-105
  • 1969 Padres: 48-114

So yeah... the best team out of that crop was the 2010 Pirates that finished with a 57-105 record. And just to answer some curiosity, here’s what those teams did the following seasons.

  • 2004 Tigers: 72-90
  • 1963 Mets: 50-112
  • 1997 Tigers: 79-83
  • 2003 Tigers: 43-119
  • 1975 Padres: 65-97
  • 1980 Athletics: 86-76
  • 2005 Diamondbacks: 77-85
  • 2011 Pirates: 72-90
  • 1970 Padres: 63-99

You have okay teams there, but for the most part it isn’t pretty. Definitely don’t be surprised if the 2019 Royals are also contending for the number one pick in the draft.

Using a simple pythagorean winning percentage formula, it looks like the Royals have basically exactly played to their run differential (29.1 percent actual WP%, 29.1 percent pythagorean WP%). Let’s see where that ranks in the modern-era.

Ten Worst Pythagorean Winning Percentages Ever

Season Team Pythag. WP%
Season Team Pythag. WP%
1969 Padres 28.24%
2003 Tigers 28.86%
2018 Royals 29.06%
1963 Mets 29.53%
1962 Mets 29.76%
1974 Padres 29.82%
1965 Mets 30.23%
2002 Tigers 30.70%
1979 Athletics 30.74%
2010 Pirates 31.48%

By looking at the actual winning percentage and the pythagorean numbers, the Royals are currently pacing to finish with an unbelievably bad 47-115 record. There’s only been two worse teams in the modern-era, the 1962 Mets and the 2003 Tigers. It might not be out of the realm of possibility that the 2018 Royals could challenge this unwanted record.

It’s pretty easy by watching this team and adding in these factual points that the Royals are a historically bad team. And they might not have even reached their bottom point yet, with possibilities that two of their best players in Mike Moustakas and Whit Merrifield could still be dealt. So buckle up for the second half, because it’s bound to be an ugly ride.