The last time the St. Louis Cardinals had a losing season was 2007. Somewhat conveniently for the comparison I am about to make, that lines up with Dayton Moore’s first season as general manager of the Kansas City Royals.
In the 12 full seasons since then, the Cardinals made the playoffs six times—half—and won two World Series. The Royals, meanwhile, made the playoffs twice, and while they were more efficient with their playoff trips, that didn’t exactly mean much in, say, 2012, when the Royals lost 90 games and the Cardinals were one out from a third World Series appearance. This year is the 13th season since 2007, and it’s a good bet that the Cardinals have another winning season while the Royals are practically mathematically eliminated from that feat.
So when Cardinals fans flood I-70 and fill Kauffman Stadium in red, it makes a little sense. And when the Cardinals shut out the Royals and win 2-0, it’s another example that one franchise is exponentially more well-run than the other.
One of the biggest reasons this is so is exemplified by the starting pitcher matchup. The Cardinals sent out Jack Flaherty, the 34th overall pick in the 2014 draft. Whereas none of the Royals’ first three selections in the draft—Brandon Finnegan, Foster Griffin, and Chase Vallot—are on a big league roster in 2019, the Cardinals were busy developing Flaherty into the sort of solid big league starter that the Royals haven’t produced in almost a decade. Flaherty, 23, carved up the Royals in seven innings. He only allowed four baserunners, striking out seven along the way. Flaherty is making the league minimum and won’t be a free agent until 2024.
To Glenn Sparkman’s credit, he wasn’t bad—six innings of work, two runs, a pair of strikeouts. But he wasn’t nearly as overpowering, and Sparkman won’t win you a pitchers’ duel if it comes to it.
In the middle of the game, Ned Yost got tossed. Maybe he had a TV show to watch? Somehow, it wasn’t even a big deal in the context of the game.
The Royals’ offense tonight consisted entirely of four individuals. Whit Merrifield, Hunter Dozier, Jorge Soler, and Nicky Lopez combined for all seven baserunners on the evening. That’s not great, but in baseball you’ve got nine guys in the lineup for a reason, and theoretically some of the other guys should be able to pick them up. However, there probably isn’t a single league average player among the other five—Cheslor Cuthbert, Ryan O’Hearn, Humberto Arteaga, and Meibrys Viloria—and so they, rather predictably, didn’t produce. Cuthbert was particularly bad, making a crucial error in the first inning to gift the Cardinals their first run and then popping out multiple times with men on base later on.
Kansas City will be better next year. Replacing Arteaga with Mondesi and Viloria with Salvador Perez would easily be worth five or so wins. But this is the sort of game where that doesn’t matter much.
Tomorrow, the Royals will play the Cardinals again. They will tie the season series with a win. The Royals are 43-77 and on pace for 104 losses, which would represent no improvement over the previous season.