As has been noted multiple times by multiple people over the past week, the Royals have played exactly one team under .500 so far this season. That was the lone series they managed to win, defeating the San Francisco Giants two games to one. There has also been all kinds of talk about how several Royals batters have some of the largest gaps between the WOBA and XWOBAs in the league. They’re hitting the ball hard but they’re not reaching base. etc. etc.
Unfortunately, bad luck can’t explain everything. The Royals may have four of the unluckiest hitters in MLB’s top 30 with at least 25 balls in play, but here are the XWOBAs they have - a.k.a. the WOBA they’d have if they were less unlucky:
- Jackie Bradley Jr. - .274
- Michael Massey - .235
- Edward Olivares - .364
- MJ Melendez - .335
Only Olivares would be significantly above league-average. They aren’t doing anything to help themselves, either. They have 18 walks between them; Melendez has 11 of those while Massey still hasn’t taken a free pass yet this season. Of all the hitters in the major leagues with at least 70 plate appearances, he is the only one who can say that. That includes 12 different players with as few or fewer plate appearances who have walked, headlined by Ryan Noda of the Oakland Athletics who has walked 16 times in 73 plate appearances and Alejandro Kirk of the Blue Jays who has walked 15 times in 70.
All of this adds up to a team that isn’t just losing a lot, they’re losing historically a lot. Even the 2005 Royals went 6-18 in their first month, as compared to the 6-20 the Royals were before last night’s action. They already have a run differential of -59 with three games to be played; the 2006 Royals had merely a -56 run differential. If it weren’t for the Athletics doing everything they can to lose as many games as possible the Royals would at the league bottom in far more stats than they are. Sure, maybe the Royals will find a way to win a couple of these games against the Twins and improve those numbers a bit but you probably shouldn’t hold your breath. All of this adds up to a team that is both unlucky and bad.
But here’s the good news: now you know.
The 2021 Royals finished 74-88, far back in the standings and not very competitively. To qualify for the post-season the Royals would have had to win nearly 20 more games. But after April, Royals fans could have their hopes up. They started the season 15-9. It looked like they might be able to be competitive. It took months for Royals fans to realize they were wasting their time watching that team. This year? Very little wasted time.
As April comes to a close, it should now be quite clear that the 2023 Royals are not going to reward patience, determination, loyalty, or any other positive quality you might attribute to your Royals fandom. You may immediately redistribute your summer hobby plans towards other activities that are more likely to bring you joy safe in the knowledge that you won’t be missing anything. There can be a sense of relief in that.
Baseball is a very time-consuming hobby. Even with the shorter games it takes two or three hours a night for six or seven nights a week. That’s a lot! Honestly, you can probably replace it with two or even three hobbies if you want to.
With that much time, you could probably learn another language. If you learn Spanish, Japanese, or Korean you could even travel to another country where baseball is still as big as it used to be in the US and experience the sport you love in the context of another culture. You could get into dynasty fantasy baseball or baseball video games and prove how much smarter you are Dayton Moore or J.J. Picollo. You could organize and execute protests against some of the amazing injustices happening across our country even as we speak. You could even keep watching Royals baseball, for some reason.
Regardless of what you choose, the Royals - through their awful April - have given you your time back this summer. It might not be reasonably-priced parking or a new flag to fly over the stadium before it gets torn down in a few years. But the time might ultimately be a better gift than any of that.