Last week I asked fans to chime in with the Royals Review fan survey, asking them what they thought about the Royals, downtown baseball, and the state of baseball.
We had 820 responses to our fan survey this year - 13 percent more than last year! This isn’t a scientific poll, so don’t take the results too seriously, but I thought it would be interesting to see what the online fan thinks about the 2023 season and the direction the Royals are going in. Here are the results.
How would you grade the job John Sherman and the ownership group are doing?
A - 2.9%
B - 33.9%
C - 42.7%
D - 15.9%
F - 4.6%
The goodwill is eroding for the ownership team. After another last place finish and an off-season with little spending, the percentage of fans willing to give Sherman an A or B plummeted to a combined 65 percent last year to 36.8 percent this year. Last year just 5.9 percent of fans gave ownership a D or F, this year it is 20.5 percent.
How would you grade the job J.J. Picollo and management are doing?
A - 4.0%
B - 37.2%
C - 43.5%
D - 13.0%
F - 2.3%
Picollo takes over from Dayton Moore, but he actually gets worse marks than the management team a year ago. Just 41.2 percent of fans would give him an A or B, compared to 54.4 percent a year ago for the management team in place then. J.J. may have to start winning soon to get the fans back on his side.
Do you approve of the Matt Quatraro hiring?
Yes - 96.9 percent
No - 3.1 percent
All hail President Quatraro! Even Vladimir Putin would be envious of these numbers.
Considering the coaching changes and player transactions, how would you grade this off-season for the Royals?
A - 3.5%
B - 34.1%
C - 44.3%
D - 15.3%
F - 2.8%
A complicated question with many fans seemingly liking the coaching changes, but less pleased with the player personnel moves. But overall, it doesn’t seem like too many fans were happy with how the Royals did business this off-season.
Which young Royals player are you most excited about?
Bobby Witt Jr. - 42.4%
Vinnie Pasquantino - 40.4%
Brady Singer - 9.9%
MJ Melendez - 5.4%
No surprise, Bobby and Vinnie are the young stars of this team. Other names mentioned include Maikel Garcia, Nate Eaton, Michael Massey, Drew Waters, Nick Loftin, and CJ Alexander.
Which of these players do you believe is most likely to have a breakout season?
Daniel Lynch - 29.1%
Michael Massey - 17.9%
Edward Olivares - 12.0%
Drew Waters - 11.2%
Kyle Isbel - 7.7%
Kris Bubic - 5.7%
Carlos Hernández - 4.2%
Jonathan Heasley - 1.2%
None of them - 11.0%
I limited the options to see which player that hadn’t yet broken through did fans have the most faith in. There doesn’t seem to be a broad consensus, but lefty Daniel Lynch has the most support. Hopefully a few of these answers turn out to be correct!
Which Royals prospect are you most excited about?
Gavin Cross - 40.3%
Maikel Garcia - 40.1%
Frank Mozzicato - 5.4%
Carter Jensen - 4.3%
Ben Kudrna - 3.6%
Cayden Wallace - 2.8%
Other - 3.5%
Should have a recount for this close finish? Tyler Gentry, Asa Lacy, and Nate Eaton got the most votes among others mentioned, with single votes for Diego Hernandez, Nick Loftin, and Noah Cameron.
Who would you most like to see get a long-term deal with the Royals?
Bobby Witt Jr. - 57.9%
Vinnie Pasquantino - 18.2%
Brady Singer - 17.8%
MJ Melendez - 2.5%
None of these players - 3.7%
The Royals are reportedly interested in long-term deals for their young players, but we haven’t seen much movement yet. The Royals could get outpriced if Bobby Witt Jr. has a big year.
How many games do you predict the Royals will win in 2023?
90+ wins - 0.5%
85-89 wins - 2.1%
80-84 wins - 15.9%
75-79 wins - 31.0%
70-74 wins - 35.9%
Less than 70 wins - 14.8%
The hope among Royals fans has definitely dropped off. Last year over 60 percent of fans thought the team would win more than 80 games. This year, only 18.5 percent of fans think the team will win 80 games or more, and the number of fans that think this team will win less than 70 games went from 1.2% to 14.8%.
Do you believe the Royals are on the right track?
Yes - 43.2%
No - 15.7%
Not sure - 41.0%
The Royals play in the Show-Me State, and it seems a lot of fans want the Royals to show them more.
Do you support a downtown baseball stadium?
Yes - 35.9%
No - 43.3%
Not sure - 20.8%
This reflects how well downtown baseball polls among baseball fans, so you would have to think it polls less positively among the general population. So the Royals have their work cut out for them.
What is your biggest concern with a new downtown stadium?
Parking/traffic issues - 30.8%
Losing Kauffman Stadium - 27.3%
Cost/taxpayer burden - 27.2%
Safety concerns - 5.0%
Lack of tailgating - 2.9%
Other - 6.9%
The good thing for the Royals is they can theoretically do something about two of the larger concerns - parking/traffic and cost to taxpayers. Some of the other issues mentioned include concerns about disability access, loss of Kauffman features like the scoreboard and fountains, concerns about lack of charm with a new ballpark, ticket prices at a new stadium, no plans for a roof, environmental impact, heat concerns, and the team asking for a ballpark while they’re losing.
What downtown site do you think would be best for the Royals?
18th and Troost (near the Negro League Baseball Museum) - 13.1%
Former KC Star printing press site, south of T-Mobile Center - 12.9%
East Village site (10th and Locust) - 8.1%
East of T-Mobile Center (Jackson County Detention Center) - 5.3%
West Bottoms - 5.3%
North side of the river, opposite the River Market on the HOA bridge - 4.2%
East Crossroads (east of former KC Star offices) - 4.0%
North Loop (south of City Market, near Flashcube Building) - 3.7%
North Kansas City (Armour Boulevard and Swift) - 2.6%
Cambridge Circle - 1.5%
Somewhere else - 5.0%
None of these - 34.3%
Not much of a consensus here, although fans seem to favor the two sites that would have something else to walk to nearby. The East Village site continues to be the favorite, although North Kansas City announced they would like to get the Royals. Among other sites suggested include 22nd and Brooklyn, Lee’s Summit, Legends at KCK, Johnson County, and building a new stadium at Truman Sports Complex.
Of the $2 billion proposed for a ballpark and district, how much should the public pay?
All of it - 0.0%
75-99 percent of the cost - 0.7%
50-74 percent of the cost - 4.9%
25-49 percent of the cost - 24.4%
24 percent or less - 29.7%
None - 40%
Fans are pretty clear - John Sherman should pay most or all of the cost of this project.
Do you approve of the pitch clock in baseball?
Yes - 82.9%
No - 17.1%
There have been some early hiccups, but the early returns on the pitch clock are positive from fans.
Do you approve of the ban on radical defensive shifts?
Yes - 68.8%
No - 31.2%
Batting averages are up significantly in spring training, and fans seem to approve of the ban on defensive shifts causing that increase.
Do you support automated ball strike systems (robo-umps)?
Yes - 60%
No - 40%
We will see robo-umps soon?
Would you like to see radical realignment of divisions in baseball?
Yes - 13.5%
No - 46.5%
Depends on the divisions - 40%
Haven’t seen this floated yet, but I would expect once the A’s and Rays situations are resolved, and possible expansion is approved, we could see realignment. Royals fans seem pretty cool on the idea right now.
Do you support a salary cap in baseball?
Yes - 81.2%
No - 18.8%
It wasn’t a part of the last labor talks, but there are rumors that owners are discussing bringing up a potential salary cap for the next round of labor talks.
What is the biggest problem in baseball right now?
TV blackouts/lack of streaming options - 31.8%
Competitive parity - 31.0%
Tanking/teams not spending - 16.3%
Boring style of play - 6.1%
Minor league player treatment - 3.8%
Pace of play - 2.8%
Service time manipulation - 0.9%
Umpiring - 1.9%
Interestingly, pace of play went down from 15 percent last year to just 2.8 percent still seeing it as a problem. Fans continue to be frustrated on where they can watch games from home, and concerns over competitive parity went up from 19 percent to 31 percent this year. Among the other issues listed include lack of young fans, ticket costs, bad owners, poor quality of play, post-season start times, length of the season, length of the post-season, poor marketing, lack of stars, and political issues.