If somebody had paid me minimum wage for using last year's OOTP19 to play through the 2018 year and the postseason and then have each and every team up to date for both major and minor league rosters and known injuries as of March 7 of 2019, I could afford more trips to Kauffman Stadium this year. I did this out of both curiosity and for the purpose of having something to do while watching the snow fly in retirement. The new version of OOTP should be out in less than two weeks with updated rosters and ratings, but maybe some of you will be interested to read about the 2019 Kansas City Royals for my simulated season.
Twenty-nine of the major league teams had their 25-man rosters set according to what was shown for each squad on March 7 at RosterResource.com which included predicted batting orders, starting rotations, and bullpen roles, so no guesswork on my part contributed to team composition at the beginning of the season. For the Kansas City Royals I chose to use Jeffrey Flanagan's March 7 article https://www.mlb.com/royals/news/royals-25-man-roster-shaping-up for his prediction of the roster and I used that along with RosterResource to set batting order, starting rotation, and bullpen roles. Injuries for all teams were set in place using the commissioner mode of OOTP, so Salvador Perez was placed on the Injury List for the entire season and others had injury or suspension time set according to the estimates shown at RosterResource. Bryce Harper had signed by March 7, so Philadelphia included him on their roster, but other free agents unsigned by that date were determined to "sit out" the entire year for purposes of this exercise.
I desired to limit the AI General Managers and Managers, so I set all teams to be ran by myself. All lineups including platoons were set for all thirty teams. Every team had their starting rotations and bullpen roles under my direction. To keep the 25-man rosters of March 7 intact, I also used the commissioner mode to turn off all trades, waivers, free agent signings, and even future injuries. In other words, Kyle Zimmer would stay healthy all year along with everybody else. The one variable was current injuries, as I did use personal judgment to adjust the 25-man rosters when players like Kyle's brother Bradley was healthy enough to return to the Indians. For the most part all teams played the entire 2019 simulation based upon the RosterResource rosters plus returning injured players. No advancement from the minor leagues to the major leagues was allowed even after the expanded September rosters, so players like Lovelady, Phillips, Bonifacio, and N. Lopez had to spend the whole year in the minor leagues.
The Kansas City Royals basically carried only a three man bench of a spare catcher, Owings, and Gore. I had Viloria start as catcher facing right-handed pitchers and Gallagher took those duties facing left-handed pitchers. The only other platoon was having Owings play third base with Dozier at first base facing southpaws. Pine riders would also get action when regulars became tired, but pinch-hitters and pinch-runners were also allowed.
The pitching staff featured starters Duffy, Kennedy, Junis, Keller, and J. Lopez. Peralta was the closer with primary set-up men being Boxberger, Diekman, and McCarthy. McWilliams, Hill, Fillmyer, and Zimmer rounded out the list of pitchers on the major league roster.
Just prior to Opening Day 2019, the game came out with its own preseason predictions based upon the 25-man rosters I had set for all thirty teams. They didn't give Kansas City too much to look forward to with an expectation that a season of 58-104 would not be surprising. The offense was thought to finish last in most categories except for being the best team for stealing bases. Pitching was felt to be poor and to finish third from the bottom in the American League. My simulation turned out to have the 2019 Kansas City Royals doing better than that.
May 1, 2019. Kansas City on that date had a record of 14-16, 6 1/2 games behind the surprising Chicago White Sox, but better than Detroit in the division. Both Minnesota and Cleveland were soon due to get players like Sano and Lindor back from the Injured List, so the road ahead for the Royals was expected to get more challenging. Merrifield was off to a hot start along with a healthy Soler, but both Mondesi and O'Hearn had early season struggles. The offense was 12th for scoring runs and the pitching was 7th for runs allowed and both were better than expected. The team was the leader for stolen bases with Gore being surprisingly valuable and the defense was 2nd best for the entire league. Naysayers claimed a short sample size, but early season attendance at Kauffman Stadium demonstrated a good increase over the previous season but hopes were modest.
June 1, 2019. Kansas City on that date had a record of 28-29, still in fourth place in the division and trailing the White Sox by six games. Merrifield and Duffy were playing especially well while Soler continued to hit home runs and Gore continued to steal bases in pinch-running situations. The pitching remained in 7th place for allowing runs and the offense improved to 11th in the league. The winning previous month resulted in yet more fans at the stadium and hope was still alive. A few days later Kansas City took Rutschman in the draft.
June 12, 2019. That date was notable for the Royals having a record of 34-32 to reach third place in the Central Division, ahead of the Tigers and Twins. The team was only 2 1/2 games behind for a Wild Card playoff spot at this point. Hopes were high and Kauffman was seeing big crowds again. Some felt that Moustakas' club record for home runs was in real jeopardy as Soler remained strong. Gore and others made them fun to watch while bases were being stolen at abandon, the two catchers were both surprisingly useful as Gallagher became the unofficial team captain while Viloria only trailed Merrifield on the team for WAR by a position player, and the overall defense was helpful for the basically adequate pitching staff. Mondesi and O'Hearn were finally becoming forces to be reckoned with. Some of the Kevins at Royals Review were again starting discussions of Plaza Parade float ideas with otters the featured attraction.
July 1, 2019. Kansas City on that date had a record of 42-42 for a .500 mark and another winning month. The hot Twins regained third place and the Royals trailed the White Sox and the improving Indians by 6 1/2 games, five games out for a Wild Card slot. The offense slipped a bit to 12th in the American League while the pitching improved to overall 6th in the circuit with the starting rotation doing better than the relief corps. Whit Merrifield was named to the All-Star team, barely nosed out by less than ten thousand votes as starting American League second baseman by Jose Altuve of the Astros. Attendance remained strong and hopes remained high for the Blue Team. "David Glass" was very happy to see the enthusiasm of the fans translated into ticket sales with the team expected to make a decent profit for the year.
August 1, 2019. Kansas City on that date had a record of 52-58, now trailing Cleveland by 14 1/2 games and ten games out for the Wild Card. The reason for the 10-16 month will be long discussed in Royals Review threads, but more than one culprit is likely. The offense did remain 12th for runs scored, but their team batting average and on base percentage rankings actually improved over the month before, helped mostly by progressing Mondesi and O'Hearn. The pitching staff made one change with returning from Injured List Hahn taking over Fillmyer's long relief duties and the bullpen remained ranked 8th overall in the league. But something big happened to the team giving up runs for the month and it probably was a combination of the starting staff dropping from 6th to 8th and the defense dropping from 2nd to 5th. For the starting pitchers, Duffy was holding the fort, but both Kennedy and J. Lopez struggled most of the time while Junis and Keller mixed good days and bad days. Defensively, Gordon was starting to lose a step or two or three and neither Dozier nor Goodwin were anything special at their positions but OK offensively. Mondesi flashed good range and an improving bat while also having a tendency to make more errors than desired. Attendance started dropping and hopes were fading fast.
August 10, 2019. Kansas City first fell to ten games under .500, at 54-64. Winning "15 out of the next 20" would have gotten them back to .500 so the team stood at an official crossroads of the season on that date.
August 18, 2019. Kansas City won their 58th game of the season matching their preseason prediction with plenty of games to go.
August 28, 2019. Kansas City finally got over their preseason prediction hump with win number 59. Kansas City was officially better than expected, but Royals Review readers remained unconvinced and talk of Plaza Parade floats featuring many otters became a distant memory buried deep in the archives.
September 1, 2019. Kansas City on that date had a record of 60-77, 20 1/2 games behind Cleveland and sixteen games out for a Wild Card. The offense went from 12th to 14th. The pitching remained overall 9th despite the starters falling from 8th to 9th because the bullpen improved from 8th to 7th when Injury List "Feels Like New Hip" Oaks took over for Hahn. The Royals' 8-19 record for the dog days of August along with the hot temperatures resulted in attendance dropping like a rock. Hope was gone.
September 9, 2019. Kansas City was officially eliminated from a Wild Card chance.
September 21, 2019. The Detroit Tigers passed the Royals and Kansas City fell into the Central Division cellar.
End of Season, 2019. Kansas City finished with a record of 68-94, ten games better than expected from preseason predictions, but 25 games behind the Indians and 23 games out of the Wild Card. The offense finished 14th in the league in runs, but trailed the Rangers in stolen bases. The pitching ranked 9th in runs allowed with the defense considered only a middling 7th by season's end. September featured another bad month of 8-17 and attendance tanked despite the new special discount "Swim in the Fountains" nights.
Player stats. I won't go too deep into that as I will have a poll which will feature some things which happened in the simulation. Basically the Royals did not have many bad players as only -0.2 Kennedy, -0.5 Soler, and -0.9 McCarthy landed in negative WAR, but the team lacked enough good players who could carry the team on their backs. Despite their record, the OOTP ranking for clubhouse chemistry at the end of the season rated Kansas City as "Happy."
Personal observations and regrets. Lacking the ability to adjust rosters in the simulation did hurt the Royals in some respects. In retrospect, Owings should have platooned in right field with Goodwin instead of third base facing lefties to allow O'Hearn to play everyday. Phillips definitely proved enough in Omaha to be the right fielder at least in some platoon role but the rule was no promotions from the minors. Based upon OOTP green arrows at the end of the season, Phillips, Lovelady, and N. Lopez all deserved 25-man spots while Singer and Lee seemed to be ready for at least AAA ball.
Early November, 2019. The Astros defeated the Cubs four games to two to win the Series. Meanwhile in Kansas City, hopes returned to high for 2020 except that OOTP owner "David Glass" was now "Worried."
For the poll, assume that those listed stay healthy and are on the Royals' 25-man all season. Everything mentioned happened in my simulation.