New Year's resolutions are fun. They are promises we make to ourselves, usually in an effort to better ourselves, that rarely last more than a few weeks. They are also the catch-all for any changes we want to make. Want to lose weight? Resolution. Want to be more fiscally responsible? Resolution. Want to learn a new language? Resolution!
As 2020 ends, so does the best decade of baseball I’ve experienced in my life. The pain caused by 100 loss seasons in the latter half of the decade still massively counterbalanced by the successes in 2013-2015. It’s because of that period I even became interested in writing about the Royals, and it’s been a lot of fun, but it hasn’t been without its downside. Fandom is a double-edged sword, and when things are bad they can seem real bad.
So, in an effort to increase my enjoyment and improve my attitude moving forward, I’ve come up with three New Year’s resolutions about my Royals fandom. Like most resolutions, I don’t know that these will survive the whole year, but I will do my best.
I resolve to stop expecting Mondesi to get on base
One constant during the last decade of Royals baseball has been a low on-base percentage. From 2011-2020, Royals hitters posted a batting line of .260/.315/.399, ranking them 24th of 30 in OBP. Current Royals Mondesi and Salvy both have significantly below-average OBP over their careers, and it has long been a topic of discussion both on this site and elsewhere that “if Mondesi would just learn to take a walk he could be a superstar”. Sure, that’s true, if Mondesi could get his OBP and walk rate up to respectable numbers he would likely be poised to break out and become the player we always hoped he would be, but that’s just not going to happen.
Through parts of five seasons and nearly 1.200 Major League plate appearances, Mondesi boasts a 4.3 walk percentage and a .284 OBP. At age 25 with three seasons of control left, it feels unlikely that he will magically learn how to not swing at everything. Still, he can be a valuable contributor without walking much through his defense, base running and power. He was worth 2.8 fWAR in 2018, batting .276/.306/.498.
Royals baseball will be much more enjoyable the next three seasons (and potentially beyond) if I stop expecting guys like Mondesi to learn to get on base, so I resolve to do so.
I resolve to accept that Dayton Moore is likely here to stay, at least for the first half of the decade
It is entirely possible new ownership decides to go in a new direction, but with back-to-back pennants in the ‘14 and ‘15 seasons, coupled with what looks to be a couple of fairly successful drafts, Dayton Moore has likely cemented his spot as the Royals GM for some time.
I have a long history of criticizing GMDM, as do many on this site. His propensity to choose players based on “character” rather than ability, his focus on athletes with speed instead of players who can hit for power or get on base a lot, his tendency to overpay for mediocrity (the Jeremy Guthrie, Omar Infante, and Ian Kennedy deals spring to mind) and, for better or worse, lack of willingness to tank in the latter part of the decade have all been (in my opinion) detrimental to the organization.
But new ownership, I feel, is unlikely to change this. Dayton seems to be respected by others in the industry, and he does have some history of success. Therefore, I resolve to accept the fact that he will continue to choose players to add to the organization based on what I consider to be flawed criteria, to continue to overpay for players, and run the organization in ways I generally disagree with. I will do my best to criticize him less.
I will do my best to enjoy the games more, regardless of the outcomes
Sports fandom is strange. If there were a TV show I was really into but went as bad as the Royals were for the last few years, I would have stopped watching it. But with the Royals, with sports, we keep going back. Game after game, year after year I keep coming back.
I don’t know what the 2021 season holds for the Royals. Right now, if nothing changes, I think they probably win somewhere around 75-80 games. That’s a level of winning (around/just below .500 ball) I can tolerate fairly easily, but with a few bad breaks they could lose 100 games again. And what of 2022 and beyond?
Either way, missing a full season of baseball in 2020 has showed me how good we’ve had it as fans, even in the bad seasons. I resolve to enjoy Royals baseball more in the next year (and beyond), regardless of if the Royals are good or bad.
Happy New Year everyone!