Last week I asked for the voice of the fans with the Royals Review fan survey, asking questions on the state of the team, to downtown baseball, to the state of baseball in general.
We had 726 responses to our fan survey, and we appreciate you all taking the time to give us your opinion. This isn’t a scientific poll, and it’s not legally binding (unless Proposition 304 passes, and we all pray that it does). But I thought it would be interesting to get the pulse of our Royals fans. Here are the results.
How would you grade the job John Sherman and the ownership group have done?
A - 13.2%
B - 51.8%
C - 29.4%
D - 5.0%
F - 0.7%
The Sherman ownership group walked into a pandemic situation, then a labor stoppage, so it has been hard to see his impact too much. He gets some credit for paying personnel during the pandemic, but larger decisions on the direction of this franchise will come in the future.
How would you grade the job Dayton Moore, JJ Picollo, and management have done?
A - 10.8%
B - 43.6%
C - 32.6%
D - 10.5%
F - 2.5%
Flags fly forever, but aside from the two pennant-winning seasons, the Dayton Moore era has been largely filled with losing seasons. The club seems headed on the right track, however, we’ll see how much patience fans will have.
How would you grade the job Mike Matheny has done?
A - 7.5%
B - 49.4%
C - 33.1%
D - 8.4%
F - 1.5%
The skipper learned from his time with the Cardinals and has made some adjustments. He has only won 45 percent of his games in Kansas City, but with a rebuilding club that will have higher expectations this year.
What is the biggest area of concern going into this season?
Starting pitching - 58.1%
Offense - 28.8%
Bullpen - 13.5%
The Royals have some promising young pitching, but they had the fourth-highest starting pitching ERA in the American League last year, giving fans some concern going into 2022.
Aside from Bobby Witt, Jr, what Royals hitting prospect are you most excited about?
MJ Melendez - 44.1%
Nick Pratto - 32.6%
Vinnie Pasquantino - 10.8%
Kyle Isbel - 6.7%
Edward Olivares - 2.5%
Fans are pumped about the minor league home run leader, MJ Melendez. Nick Loftin and Erick Pena received a handful of votes with a write-in vote for Seuly Matias.
Which young Royals pitcher are you most excited about?
Carlos Hernandez - 34.0%
Asa Lacy - 19.5%
Daniel Lynch - 19.4%
Brady Singer - 11.1%
Kris Bubic - 6.3%
Jackson Kowar - 4.5%
This surprised me a bit, but Hernandez was impressive in 85 2⁄3 innings for the Royals last year, with a 3.68 ERA. Angel Zerpa, Alec Marsh, Jon Heasley, Frank Mozzicato, and Ben Kudrna also received a handful of votes with some write-in votes for Jonathan Bowlan, Ben Hernandez, and Drew Parrish.
Who would you most like to see get a long-term deal with the Royals?
None of these players - 33.1%
Andrew Benintendi - 21.7%
Whit Merrifield - 17.5%
Brady Singer - 15.4%
Adalberto Mondesi - 8.6%
Brad Keller - 3.6%
Of course, this all depends on what kind of money we’re talking about here, but the fans don’t seem to be in favor of extending any of these players. Perhaps the Hunter Dozier contract soured them on long-term deals.
How many games do you predict the Royals will win in 2022 if there is a full season?
90+ wins - 2.4%
85-89 wins - 10.0%
80-84 wins - 47.6%
75-79 wins - 30.9%
70-74 wins - 7.9%
Less than 70 wins - 1.2%
They may call us critical spirits, but a majority of Royals fans are predicting at least 80 wins, which would be a marked improvement for a team that went 74-88 last year.
Do you support a new stadium in downtown Kansas City?
Yes - 33.7%
No - 50.7%
Not sure - 15.6%
We haven’t seen any details of a downtown stadium, but it looks like John Sherman will have to do some work to sell the idea on a skeptical fanbase.
What is your primary reason for objecting to a downtown stadium?
Love of Kauffman Stadium - 46.4%
Parking/traffic concerns - 30.2%
Cost of public financing - 9.1%
Other - 9.1%
Lack of tailgating - 3.8%
Safety concerns - 1.4%
Most of the “other” responses were “all of the above”. One response raised concerns about ticket prices going up, and another thought baseball would be a poor investment considering the downward trajectory of the sport.
Who do you assign the most blame in labor negotiations?
Owners - 58.8%
Neither - 24.0%
Players - 17.2%
I should have indicated “both” perhaps instead of “neither”, but it looks like most fans aren’t on the side of owners.
What is the biggest problem in baseball?
TV blackouts/lack of streaming options - 34.0%
Parity - 19.4%
Pace of play - 15.0%
Tanking - 9.2%
Other - 8.4%
Minor league player and team treatment - 7.8%
Umpiring - 3.6%
Service time manipulation - 2.2%
Among the issues people responded with in “other” included analytics, Rob Manfred, defensive shifts, the length of the season, the strike zone, decline in African-American participation, politics, lack of marketing stars, and too many home runs.
Do you support a salary cap in baseball?
Yes - 81.1%
No - 18.9%
It doesn’t seem to be on the table in labor talks now, but Royals fans want a salary cap.
Do you support a pitch clock?
Yes - 56.6%
No - 43.4%
It has been tried in the minors, but we have yet to see MLB adopt a pitch clock in the big leagues.
Do you support a universal DH rule for both leagues?
Yes - 78.8%
No - 21.2%
This seems to be one of the issues owners and players agree on - a universal DH rule will likely be coming as soon as this season.
Do you support an automated strike zone (robot umps)?
Yes - 49.0%
No - 50.4%
Another idea that has been tried in the minors, but Royals fans aren’t quite ready to embrace robots behind the plate.
Do you support a ban on extreme defensive shifts?
Yes - 32.9%
No - 67.1%
Batting averages have plummeted, but most fans don’t want to see MLB tinker with defensive shifts.
How many teams should be in the playoffs?
10 teams (current format) - 64.5%
12 teams - 28.6%
14 teams - 4.4%
16 teams - 2.5%
Owners and players seem to agree on expanding the playoffs as well, even though most fans don’t want to see more teams in the post-season.
If baseball were to expand, which two cities would you like to see get a team? (choose two)
Nashville, Tennessee - 38.6%
Montreal, Quebec - 26.4%
Las Vegas, Nevada - 24.5%
Charlotte, North Carolina - 21.8%
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma - 19.0%
Portland, Oregon - 13.8%
Indianapolis, Indiana - 11.0%
Mexico City, Mexico - 10.9%
Salt Lake City, Utah - 9.6%
San Antonio, Texas - 7.2%
Vancouver, British Columbia - 6.5%
Austin, Texas - 6.2%
Monterrey, Mexico - 4.5%
Baseball seems to be putting expansion on the backburner, but if they did add teams, our fans would like to see Music City get a team, and a return of baseball to Montreal.