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Another year, another 100 losses

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MLB: Kansas City Royals at Oakland Athletics Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday in Minneapolis, the Royals lost for the 100th time in 2019. That comes one year after losing 104 games. It is the sixth time in franchise history the Royals have reached triple-digits in the loss column.

Honest to the baseball gods, it used to be a point of pride in the Royals front office that the team never finished in last place, nor ever suffered 100 losses. They were an expansion team, for crying out loud! A 100 loss season and a last place finish were expected. In their expansion class, both the Expos and Padres lost 110 games and finished last in their respective divisions in 1969. The Seattle Pilots occupied the cellar in the AL West that year. Of course, the Pilots moved to Milwaukee and have played in all three AL divisions at one time and have since moved to the NL.

The first 100 loss Royals team was the 2002 edition. On offense, the lineup featured Mike Sweeney, Raul Ibanez and Carlos Beltran. Difficult to believe a team could crash to 100 defeats with that middle of the order. I wonder if we’ll someday look back on Merrifield, Dozier and Soler and think the same thing.

Interestingly enough, 2002 was also the first 100 loss season for the Pilots/Brewers franchise. The difference is, that remains the only century mark loss team in club history. Makes you think.

In the Dayton Moore Era, the Royals average won-loss record is 74-87. (It doesn’t add up to a full 162 because there’s still a week left in the current season.) That’s a .460 winning percentage. The club will finish fourth in the Central this year (thank you, Detroit!) so we can go ahead and average out their divisional finish in the Moore Era to roughly 3.5 place. This does not take into account the 2006 season where a 13-38 start got Allard Baird (a good baseball man!) sacked with Moore taking over at the end of May.

That’s a lot of losing.

The AL Central occupies a unique place in the baseball world. Without a big-market club in the mix (seriously, what the hell is wrong with you Chicago?) it’s a bunch of scrappy bottom feeders. The windows of contention theory apply here more than just about anywhere else in baseball. That’s seen in how the divisional races have played out over the last decade. The Tigers were the dominant team from 2011 to 2014. They were passed by the Royals for a year, who were then passed by Cleveland who led the way for three years. Now the baton has been passed to Minnesota.

Here’s how the teams in the division have fared since 2007.

AL Central Titles in the Moore Era

Team Division Titles Wild Cards AL Pennants World Championships
Team Division Titles Wild Cards AL Pennants World Championships
Chicago 1 0 0 0
Cleveland 4 1 1 0
Detroit 4 0 1 0
Kansas City 1 1 2 1
Minnesota 2 1 0 0

This is nuts. It’s as if the AL Central exists to get sand kicked in their collective faces by the bullies in the East and West. Get hot in October and maybe you’ll ride it to the World Series. But a title? Forget about it.

And White Sox? My god. You should be embarrassed.

(I should drop in here that Minnesota’s total of division titles will increase to three sometime this week. Maybe another Wild Card for Cleveland. It will be another few weeks before we can close out the rest of the columns for 2019.)

It’s interesting to note that in the Wild Card Era (dating back to 1995) the AL Central won the a Wild Card exactly one time (Detroit in 2006) when they awarded just one. Now that the playoffs have been expanded to include two Wild Card teams, the Central has found a little more success.

If pennants are the aloe that soothe the scars of losing, what the hell happens when the aloe runs dry? There has been a ton of losing in the Moore Era sandwiched between a two year run to glory. The window of opportunity was open a shorter length of time than everyone thought it would be, but slammed shut with authority. And now, with the second consecutive 100 loss season, the organization once again feels adrift. Yes, the minor league system is looking up and the lower levels all celebrated championships this month. That’s something for the organization to hang their hat on, but low-A success is no guarantee for the future.

Ownership will likely change at some point this offseason which makes Moore future with the club somewhat uncertain. Despite David Glass’s proclamations that he hated losing and that “losing is for losers,” did you really ever believe that? I mean it would maybe make sense... except for all the losing. It’s doubtful new ownership will have the same tolerance as the current regime. (Although we would be wise to always keep the Bell Axiom in the dark recesses of our mind. The man knew a thing or two about losing.)

The Process 2.0 may be motoring along in the low minors, but it seems patience is rarely rewarded in the Central. Opportunity is made to be taken. Because that smart thing you’ve finally figured out? At least two division rivals are looking at doing the exact same thing. (Seriously, White Sox... What the hell?)

This is the space the Royals now occupy. They have the MLB hits leader, the AL league leader in triples, and the likely outright AL home run leader, yet can average only 4.25 runs per game. Adalberto Mondesi left Sunday’s game and is out for the rest of the season after re-injuring his shoulder. Jorge Lopez couldn’t pitch three innings. And the team that plays across the parking lot will consume 98% of the hot sports takes you hear on Monday. Hell, for all I know, I’m writing in a Royals vacuum.

Another 100 loss season. The Royals should be worried. Is anybody out there?