Thursday, December 24, 2015

Report Card for the 2014-2015 Royals, Part 2.


Let’s finish with the pitchers and then the coaching and front office staff. As always, my grades are harsh but fair.

Wade Davis (7.1 bWAR): Over the last two seasons, Wade Davis is 17-3 with a 0.97 ERA. I mean, just read that again. Even when it comes to stats we justifiably ignore, like win-loss record for a reliever, Davis is off-the-charts good. He’s allowed 71 hits in 139 innings. He’s struck out 187 batters against just 43 walks. He’s allowed three home runs. He’s the most valuable pitcher on a two-time AL champion despite averaging under 70 innings a season. And in the postseason, he’s allowed two runs – one unearned – in 25 innings.

Also: he closed out Game 6 of this year’s ALCS despite having to work on both sides of an hour-long rain delay, and letting runners reach first and third with none out in the ninth. That activates a corollary of Postulate #4, which basically states that the Royals do not win Game 6 of the ALCS without Wade Davis. Wade Davis is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Yordano Ventura (5.1 bWAR): In his first two full seasons in the majors, Ventura has a 3.61 ERA in 58 starts with 315 strikeouts in 346 innings. He is already tied for the most postseason starts (9) in Royals history despite being just 24 years old.

Also: on September 7, 2014, Ventura threw 6 scoreless innings at Yankee Stadium in a game the Royals would win, 2-0. This activates Postulate #2. Yordano Ventura is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Danny Duffy (5.0 bWAR): Yes, Danny Duffy has been the third-most valuable pitcher on the Royals over the last two years. He has thrown 286 innings with a 3.27 ERA.

Also: on May 17, 2014, Duffy had a perfect game for 6.2 innings and finished with 7 shutout innings in a game the Royals won, 1-0. That activates Postulate #2. Danny Duffy is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Kelvin Herrera (4.1 bWAR): Only on the Royals would a reliever who has a 2.06 ERA in 140 innings over the last two years be forced to pitch in a seventh inning role. Herrera also holds the Royals all-time postseason strikeout record with 38, a record he shares with Wade Davis.

Also: on June 29, 2014, Kelvin Herrera entered a tie game in relief of Jeremy Guthrie with two outs and the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, and got Albert Pujols to fly out to centerfield. The Royals would win the game on a walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth. That activates Postulate #2. Kelvin Herrera is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

James Shields (3.3 bWAR): Yeah, so, turns out he was a pretty decent return for Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi. Especially since it turns out he was the second-best pitcher the Royals got in the deal. Shields threw 227 innings in 2014 with a 3.21 ERA.

Also: on September 5, 2014, Shields threw 8.1 scoreless innings at Yankee Stadium to outduel Michael Pineda, 1-0. That activates Postulate #2. James Shields is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Greg Holland (2.8 bWAR): He is one of the great closers in Royals history, and in 11 postseason innings in 2014 he gave up just one meaningless run. Unfortunately his elbow would not permit him to be on the mound to throw the final pitch of the season in New York, but on the other hand, it’s fortunate his elbow finally gave out completely before the playoffs began. If the Royals were still using a diminished Holland as their closer in October, there may not have been a final game of the season to close out.

Also: in the Wild Card game, Holland threw a scoreless top of the ninth inning, allowing the Royals to tie the game with a single run in the bottom of the ninth. That activates Postulate #1. Greg Holland is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Jason Vargas (2.8 bWAR): Before his elbow came out Vargas was exactly what the Royals expected him to be: a quality finesse pitcher who threw strikes (49 UIBB in 230 IP) and let his defense carry him to a 3.76 ERA.

Also: on August 13, 2014, Jason Vargas threw a complete-game shutout against Oakland, and the Royals won, 3-0. That activates Postulate #2. Jason Vargas is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Edinson Volquez (2.5 bWAR): Volquez has already earned his entire 2-year, $20 million contract in his first season as a Royal, throwing 200 innings for the first time in his career with a 3.55 ERA.

Also: Volquez threw six shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 1 of the ALCS, and the Royals won, 5-0. If the Royals don’t win that game, they would have had to win Game 7 of the ALCS with Johnny Cueto on the mound. Edinson Volquez is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Chris Young (2.5 bWAR): Young was exactly what the Royals expected him to be: a swingman who pitched effectively as both a starter and a reliever, taking advantage of his ballpark and outfield defense and his natural BABIP-defying ways to post a .212 BABIP, the lowest by any American League pitcher (min: 100 IP) since 1988. That helped him to a 3.06 ERA and his best season by bWAR since 2007.

Also: on June 9, 2015, Young threw 6.1 shutout innings, allowing just one hit, in a game the Royals won 2-0, and on September 27, 2015, Young threw five no-hit innings in his return to the rotation as the Royals won, 3-0. Without those two wins, the Royals don’t have home field advantage in the ALCS. That activates Postulate #4. Chris Young is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Ryan Madson (1.7 bWAR): After missing three seasons with arm troubles, Madson became perhaps the best non-roster invitee in Royals history, making the majors’ best bullpen out of spring training and throwing 63 innings with a 2.13 ERA.

Also: on April 23, 2015, Madson threw a scoreless bottom of the 10th and 11th inning in Chicago in a game the Royals would win, 3-2, in 13 innings. And on July 18, Madson threw a scoreless bottom of the 13th to save another win against the White Sox. Without those two wins, the Royals don’t have home field advantage in the ALCS. That activates Postulate #4. Ryan Madson is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Jason Frasor (1.3 bWAR): Frasor’s time in Kansas City was short but eventful. He threw 41 innings and allowed just eight runs, despite peripheral numbers that were quite mediocre – particularly this year, which led to his release despite a 1.54 ERA at the time. Spencer Patton, the guy the Royals gave up for Frasor, is 27 years old and has allowed 25 runs in 33 innings in his career so far. I’m chalking this trade up as a win.

Also: on August 8, 2014, Frasor pitched a scoreless top of the sixth inning in a 2-2 game, and got the win when the Royals scored two runs in the bottom of the inning off of…ahem…Madison He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. That activates Postulate #2. Jason Frasor is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Franklin Morales (0.7 bWAR): Ryan Madson wasn’t the only NRI to sign with the Royals after spring training got underway and make the team out of spring training. Morales threw 62 innings for the Royals with a 3.18 ERA as the team’s only left-handed reliever for much of the season.

Also: on April 23, 2015, Morales pitched a scoreless bottom of the 12th inning in Chicago and got the win when the Royals scored in the 13th. And on September 30th, Morales pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth in Chicago and got the win when the Royals scored in the 10th. This activates Postulate #4. Franklin Morales is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Brandon Finnegan (0.6 bWAR): Finnegan became the first player in major league history to play in the College World Series and the World Series in the same year, going from being the 17th pick in the draft out of TCU in June to the Royals’ bullpen in September and throwing seven innings during the regular season, allowing one run on six hits, a walk, and 10 strikeouts. This year he would be traded to Cincinnati for Johnny Cueto, who was himself a pivotal part of the championship run.

Also: in the Wild Card game, Finnegan, with seven innings of major league experience and 34 innings of professional experience, saved the Royals’ season not once but twice, throwing a scoreless 10th and 11th, twice giving the Royals a chance to walk off in the bottom of the inning. That didn’t happen, but he gave the offense enough time to finally put together a rally in the 12th. That activates Postulate #1. Brandon Finnegan is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Joe Blanton (0.3 bWAR): Yet another NRI who contributed to the 2015 Royals, Blanton started the year in the minors but was called up in mid-May and made four starts and 11 relief appearances for the Royals before he was designated for assignment, throwing 42 innings with a 3.89 ERA. (He was then picked up by the Pirates and gave them a 1.57 ERA in 34 innings out of the bullpen. Not bad for a guy who didn’t pitch in 2014 after going 2-14 with a 6.04 ERA in 2013. Never give up on a starter until you’ve tried him as a reliever.)

Also: on July 21st, 2015, Blanton threw 3.2 scoreless innings in relief of Jason Vargas, whose elbow blew out in the second inning. The game would stay scoreless until the Royals scored three in the bottom of the eighth and won, 3-1. And on June 22nd, Blanton started and allowed one run in six innings as the Royals won, 4-1. That activates Postulate #4. Joe Blanton is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Luke Hochevar (0.3 bWAR): Hochevar returned from Tommy John surgery – and missing the party in 2014 – in early May, and was solid during the regular season, with a 3.73 in 51 innings, before throwing 10.2 scoreless innings in the playoffs, and got the win the final game of the season, just as the Royals expected he would when they made him the #1 pick in the draft in 2006.

Also: on August 19th, 2015, Hochevar entered a game the Royals were leading 4-3 in Cincinnati with the bases loaded and one out in the fifth, and got out of the jam with a double play (an infield pop-up he caught followed by throwing out a boneheaded Jason Bourgeois, who apparently forgot the rules of baseball for a moment). He also threw a perfect sixth, and the Royals won, 4-3. And on July 18th, Hochevar struck out the side in the 10th inning in Chicago, and the Royals would win in the 13th. This activates Postulate #4. Luke Hochevar is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Johnny Cueto (0.2 bWAR): Centuries from now, historians will look at baseball-reference.com’s page on the 2015 Royals and wonder what all the fuss was about Johnny Cueto, who had a 4.76 ERA in 13 starts, allowed 101 hits in 81 innings, and with whom the Royals were 4-9 when he started the game for them during the regular season.

And then they will turn to the postseason page, and realize that the Royals won three of his four postseason starts, including a double elimination Game 5 of the ALDS in which he allowed two baserunners (and two runs) in eight innings, as well as a World Series start in which he threw a two-hit complete game while allowing just one run, the first complete game by an AL pitcher in the World Series since, if you can believe it, Jack Morris’ 10-inning shutout in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. By game score, these are the best starts in Royals’ postseason history:

   Pitcher             Game      GS

1. Johnny Cueto     2015 WS 2    80
2. Bret Saberhagen  2015 WS 7    79
3. Johnny Cueto     2015 ALDS 5  78
3. Bret Saberhagen  1985 WS 3    78

Ranking 74th and dead last? Cueto’s start in Game 3 of the ALCS (10), when the Royals held a 2-0 series lead. He was at his worst when all it cost us was a good night’s sleep, and he was at his best when it could have cost us everything. Johnny Cueto is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Kris Medlen (0.1 bWAR): Medlen was really signed for his ability to be a member of the starting rotation in 2016, and any performance he gave the Royals in 2015 was gravy. He returned from Tommy John surgery right on schedule, making his Royals debut on July 20th and contributing a 4.01 ERA over eight starts and seven relief appearances, with a 4.13 FIP that makes me optimistic about his ability to perform next season after another off-season of rest.

Also: on August 9th, Medlen relieved Danny Duffy in a 3-3 game in the top of the fourth with men on first and second and one out, got out of the inning unscathed and threw three more scoreless innings. He was in line for the win when the Royals scored in the fifth; Kelvin Herrera blew the lead in the top of the eighth but the Royals scored a run in the bottom of the inning and won, 5-4. And on September 15th, Medlen started and threw 6.1 scoreless innings as the Royals won, 2-0. That activates Postulate #4. Kris Medlen is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Tim Collins (0.1 bWAR): Collins missed the party in 2015, and struggled enough in 2014 that he was sent down to the minors for a time, throwing just 21 innings for the Royals. But he did make the postseason roster and threw 5.2 innings, allowing just two runs, and got two outs without allowing a run in the bottom of the ninth of Game 1 of the ALDS against the Angels, which the Royals won in 11 innings.

Also: on May 24th, 2014, Collins pitched a scoreless bottom of the 10th in Anaheim, and the Royals would win in 13 innings, 7-4. That activates Postulate #2. Tim Collins is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Wilking Rodriguez (0.1 bWAR): Don’t remember Wilking Rodriguez? That’s because he only threw two (admittedly scoreless) innings with the Royals in 2014, the only two innings of his major league career, and departed as a minor league free agent after the season. He spent 2015 in the Yankees organization and threw just 11 innings, all in the minors.

But on June 3rd, 2014, Rodriguez made his major league debut in St. Louis, pitching a scoreless bottom of the seventh inning with the Royals losing 7-6. The Royals tied the game with a run in the eighth and scored the winning run in the top of the ninth, and won, 8-7. (I have no idea why Wilking Rodriguez would make his major league debut in a one-run game in the seventh inning, but it worked.) That activates Postulate #2. Wilking Rodriguez is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Francisley Bueno (0.0 bWAR): Bueno was signed as a minor league free agent after the 2011 season, and despite bouncing between Triple-A and the majors for three years, he was awfully effective as a LOOGY when he did pitch for the Royals: between 2012 and 2014 he threw 58 innings for them, allowing just seven unintentional walks against 33 strikeouts, with a 2.79 ERA. (For his troubles, he spent 2015 pitching in Mexico.)

Also: on July 24th, 2014, Bueno pitched a scoreless top  of the 10th against the Indians, and got two outs in the top of the 11th. The Royals would finally walk it off in the 14th inning. That activates Postulate #2. Francisley Bueno is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Scott Downs (0.0 bWAR): Downs only pitched 14 innings for the Royals in 2014 to end his career, allowing seven runs (five earned) and more walks (5) than strikeouts (3). The home run he allowed to – wait for it – Jonny Gomes on July 18th cost the Royals the ballgame in Boston, and was frequently pointed at as an exhibit for Ned Yost’s penchant for managerial mistakes.

But: on July 24th, 2014, Downs pitched a scoreless 12th and 13th inning against the Indians, allowing the Royals to walk it off in the 14th. That activates Postulate #2. Scott Downs is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Louis Coleman (-0.2 bWAR): Few things speak to the depth of the Royals’ bullpen more than the fact that Coleman, after throwing 140 innings in the majors from 2011-2013 with a 2.69 ERA – and after allowing just two runs in 30 innings in 2013 – spent most of 2014 and 2015 in the minor leagues. (Granted, he was pretty terrible when he pitched for the Royals in 2014.) He’s still on the 40-man roster, and still has the potential to be a useful right-handed specialist for a team that’s not as loaded to the gills with bullpen arms as the Royals are.

Also: on May 11th, 2014, Coleman pitched a scoreless bottom of the sixth in Seattle with the Royals losing, 7-5, and got the win when the Royals scored four runs in the top of the seventh. That activates Postulate #2. Louis Coleman is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Liam Hendriks (-0.2 bWAR): Hendricks threw only 19 innings for the Royals after he was acquired, along with Erik Kratz, for Danny Valencia in July 2014 and before he was traded to the Blue Jays after the season because they didn’t have any space on their 40-man roster. Letting him go may have been a mistake; Hendriks was always an excellent control pitcher without great stuff, but after the Blue Jays moved him to the bullpen, his fastball spiked 3 mph – one of the greatest increases in velocity of any pitcher between 2014 and 2015 – and he had an excellent year for Toronto, throwing 65 innings with a 2.92 ERA and 71 strikeouts against 11 walks. He also threw 4.1 scoreless innings against the Royals in Game 4 of the ALCS this year, even as the other Blue Jay pitchers that day allowed 14 runs in 4.2 innings.

And on August 27th, 2014, with the Royals needing an emergency starter, they turned to Hendricks, and he threw six scoreless innings against the Twins before finally allowing a run in the seventh to give Minnesota a 1-0 lead. But the Royals would break through with six runs in the eighth inning to win, 6-1. That activates Postulate #2. Liam Hendriks is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Aaron Crow (-0.4 bWAR): Crow never lived up to his potential as a first-round pick who was drafted ahead of Mike Trout, among others, and by 2014 his struggles (10 homers allowed in 59 innings) made him a deserved punching bag in the season’s second half; he was left off the playoff roster and traded to Miami over the winter. But in four years with the Royals, he threw 234 innings with a very respectable 3.43 ERA.

Also: on May 24th, 2004, Crow pitched a scoreless 11th and 12th in Anaheim and was credited with a win against the Angels when the Royals scored in the top of the 13th. Also, he was pressed into service on September 2nd to close out a 2-1 lead at home – neither Greg Holland nor Wade Davis were available – and threw a scoreless ninth against Texas. That activates Postulate #2. Aaron Crow is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Aaron Brooks (-0.5 bWAR): Aaron Brooks made one start for the Royals, on May 31st, 2014, and allowed 7 runs before he was knocked out in the first inning. In three relief outings for the Royals, he allowed 9 runs in 6.1 innings. He has a career 20.57 ERA with Kansas City.

But on July 28th, 2015, Brooks was the second player in the trade that sent Sean Manaea to Oakland in exchange for Ben Zobrist. The Royals do not win a world championship in 2015 without Zobrist. Aaron Brooks is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Michael Mariot (-0.5 bWAR): Mariot, a fairly well-regarded relief prospect in the minors, has a 6.11 ERA in 28 innings with the Royals between 2014 and 2015. After this season he was claimed on waivers by the Philadelphia Phillies.

But on June 27th, 2014, Mariot was called on to bail out Jason Vargas in the top of the fifth, after an 8-2 Kansas City lead had dwindled to 8-5 with no one out and the bases loaded. Mariot gave up a sacrifice fly to Albert Pujols but no other damage in the inning, and the 8-6 score held up as Mariot was credited with his first and only major league win. That activates Postulate #2. Michael Mariot is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Jeremy Guthrie (-0.7 bWAR): After a terrific revival half-season in 2012 and quality innings-munching work in 2013 and 2014, Guthrie finally collapsed in 2015, with a 5.95 ERA and a league-leading 29 homers allowed in just 148 innings. His -1.8 bWAR in 2015 is the third-worst season in Royals history, behind only Doug Bird’s 1978 (-2.2) and…Wade Davis in 2013 (-2.1). Maybe Guthrie has a future in the bullpen.

Also: on August 1st, 2014, Guthrie threw six scoreless innings in Oakland, which allowed Raul Ibanez’s solo homer to stand up as the only run in the game. That definitively activates Postulate #2. Jeremy Guthrie is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Bruce Chen (-1.2 bWAR): Chen was at the end of his line in 2014, allowing a 7.45 ERA in 48 innings and getting unceremoniously released in September, even though rosters had expanded. After two terrible starts with the Indians this year he retired. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that he was a rotation stalwart from the time the Royals picked him up off the scrap heap in 2009 until 2014. Among pitchers who debuted in 1990 or later, only three have made more starts in a Royals uniform than Chen’s 113: Zack Greinke, Jeff Suppan, and Luke Hochevar.

Also: on April 5th, 2014, Chen threw 6.1 innings and allowed one run against the White Sox as the Royals took a 3-1 lead. Wade Davis would blow the lead (!) by allowing two runs (!!) in the eighth, but the Royals would score the game-winner in the bottom of the inning. That activates Postulate #2. Bruce Chen is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Nick Kenney: Like pretty much every season since Kenney was hired as the Royals’ Head Athletic Trainer (and Kyle Turner was hired as the Assistant Athletic Trainer), the Royals were one of the healthiest teams in baseball. They lost Alex Gordon to what could have been a season-ending injury and got him back in time for the playoffs. The only players they were missing in October were the ineffective (Omar Infante) and the increasingly lame-armed (Greg Holland). The team that took the field in the postseason was the best Royals team of the season, and it showed. Nick Kenney is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Mike Groopman: I honestly don’t know what analytical secrets Groopman (along with John Williams, Daniel Mack, and the rest of the analytics department) has uncovered – it’s not like the Royals are very forthcoming in this regard. I do know that the team finally started to improve under Dayton Moore around the time he really committed to applying analytics to the team’s decision-making. And I do know that Groopman is the first Baseball Prospectus alumnus to win a championship ring. If you had told me in 2000, or 2005, or 2010, that the first BP alumnus to win a ring would do so with the Royals, I’d have laughed in your face. But it’s true. Mike Groopman is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Art Stewart: Stewart began working in professional baseball in 1953. My mom was born in 1953. And I’m pretty sure that of his 63 seasons working for a major league team, this was his favorite. It should be. Art Stewart is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Mike Arbuckle: I still can’t believe that the Philadelphia Phillies came down to a choice between Mike Arbuckle and Ruben Amaro, Jr., to be the GM that succeeded Pat Gillick in 2008, and they chose Amaro. Their loss was our gain. The Phillies had the most losses in the major leagues this year; the Royals had the most wins. Mike Arbuckle is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Gene Watson: Watson, who knew Dayton Moore from his time with the Atlanta Braves, joined the Royals in 2006 and was promoted to Coordinator (and now Director) of Pro Scouting in 2008. I think it’s safe to say that he had a hand in picking some of the 25 players on the Royals’ playoff roster. Gene Watson is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Lonnie Goldberg: Goldberg, who knew Dayton Moore from his time with the Atlanta Braves (and at George Mason University before that), joined the Royals in 2008 and was named Director of Scouting in 2011. I think it’s safe to say that he had a hand in picking some of the 25 players on the Royals’ playoff roster. Lonnie Goldberg is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Scott Sharp: Sharp joined the Royals in 2006 and moved from Assistant Director of Player Development to Director of Minor League Operations to Director of Player Development, and this year was named Assistant General Manager of Baseball Operations. I think it’s safe to say that he had a hand in picking some of the 25 players on the Royals’ playoff roster. Scott Sharp is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Jin Wong: Wong, who knew Dayton Moore from his brief time with the Atlanta Braves, actually predates Moore in the Royals’ front office by six years, joining the Royals as Scouting Operations Coordinator back in 2000. He had a reputation for being the most analytics-friendly member of the front office before the Royals created an analytics department. After numerous promotions, his current title is Assistant General Manager of Baseball Administration. I think it’s safe to say that he had a hand in picking some of the 25 players on the Royals’ playoff roster. Jin Wong is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Rene Francisco: Francisco, who knew Dayton Moore from his time with the Atlanta Braves, joined the Royals in 2006. Within months of his hiring as Director of International Scouting (he’s now the Vice President/Assistant General Manager of Major League and International Operations), the Royals had signed Salvador Perez and Kelvin Herrera, which right there was more talent than the Royals had signed out of Latin America in the 37 years before he was hired. They’ve been joined by Yordano Ventura, Cheslor Cuthbert, Raul Mondesi, Miguel Almonte, and many more to come. I think it’s safe to say that he had a hand in picking some of the 25 players on the Royals’ playoff roster. Rene Francisco is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

J.J. Picollo: Picollo, who knew Dayton Moore from his time with the Atlanta Braves, joined the Royals in 2006 as Director of Player Development, and after several promotions is now the Vice President/Assistant General Manager of Player Personnel, the title most closely associated with what we think of as “Assistant GM”. He interviewed for the Phillies’ GM position this winter; as a Picollo fan I feel bad for him, but as a Royals fan I’m happy he’s still around. I think it’s safe to say that he had a hand in picking some of the 25 players on the Royals’ playoff roster. J.J. Picollo is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Pedro Grifol: Grifol is the Royals’ catching coach. Drew Butera caught the final pitch of the 2015 season. Grifol is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+
Doug Henry: Henry is the Royals’ bullpen coach. The 2013-2015 Royals have a strong case to make as the greatest bullpen in major league history. Doug Henry is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Rusty Kuntz: Oh, player. Technically he’s the first base coach, but really, he’s the Baserunning and Outfield Defense Whisperer. The best hair of any coach in the business. He’s coming back for another year. I can’t wait. Rusty Kuntz is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Mike Jirschele: So much has happened since that it’s easy to forget now, but two years ago the story of Jirschele was that of a man who spent 36 years in the minor leagues before finally getting his shot in the majors. He must have spent that time well, because – at least in the postseason – he’s basically been flawless as the Royals’ third base coach. He was right to hold Gordon, and he was right to send Cain. I hope – and I’m willing to bet – that the Royals voted him full playoff shares these past two years. Mike Jirschele is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Dale Sveum: Sveum finally ended the merry-go-round Spinal Tap Drummer feel of the hitting coach position when he took over at the end of May, 2014. The Royals scored 55 runs in the postseason from the seventh inning on, the most in major league history by an enormous margin. Dale Sveum is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Dave Eiland: Eiland was hired as the Royals’ pitching coach after the 2011 season, and after improving from 12th to 10th in the AL in runs allowed in 2012, the last three years the Royals have ranked 1st, 4th, and 3rd. Much of that is the defense, no doubt. But some of that is Eiland. Dave Eiland is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Don Wakamatsu: Wakamatsu was hired as the Royals’ bench coach after the 2013 season. When he was hired, the Royals hadn’t been to the playoffs in 28 years. In his two years with the Royals, they’ve won two pennants and a World Series. Also, his calligraphy skills are responsible for the Royals having the prettiest lineup card in the business. Don Wakamatsu is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Ned Yost: The most regular season wins of any Royals manager in history, and more postseason wins (22) than every other Royals manager combined (18). His postseason record (22-9, .710 winning percentage) is the best in major league history for any manager with at least 20 postseason games. He’s almost certainly getting his number retired when he does. Ned Yost is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Dayton Moore: Before he was hired, Baseball America ranked Dayton Moore as the #1 GM prospect in baseball. When I started this blog in 2008, Moore was my #1 reason for optimism in the franchise’s future. I may have lost faith over the years, but Moore never did. Dayton Moore is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

David Glass: My very first Rany on the Royals article after my introduction was about David Glass, and how he was no longer the liability that everyone thought he was. I stand by those words. Glass has been close to a model owner over the past nine years, hiring the man that everyone thought was best for the job in Moore, and letting him do his job with minimal interference. While he hasn’t been a spendthrift, he has spent when the situation required it. He stuck by his front office even in the face of an impatient fan base – if anything, you could argue he has been too patient, or at least you could have argued that had his patience not been utterly and entirely vindicated today. David Glass is responsible for the Royals winning a world championship. Grade: A+

Happy Holidays, everyone. Check back here after the New Year, as I hope to unveil the beginning of an ambitious project that should take us all the way to Opening Day, in an effort to ensure that we never forget the amazing story of the 2014-2015 Kansas City Royals.


11 comments:

BobDD said...

A+

Mark Prout said...

A
+ after editing the table of best Royals postseason pitching to show both Sabes' games in 1985.

tookee said...

can't wait to see the "ambitious project" - always entertaining and such a pleasure to read you wherever you are. I believe there's one person left out of your list - Rany on the Royals is responsible for the Royals Championship. A+

kcghost said...

What a nice Christmas Present!

Arrowhead Homes said...

As always, thanks!

Scott Weidemeyer said...

Thanks for finding the time to do this in the midst of your practice expansion! I know the growth of your practice takes a lot of time and energy, so I truly appreciate your making time for some thoughts and contributions during this historic run. It wouldn't be quite the same without you. I really appreciated the statistical support you outlined of how unprecedented our late inning scoring surges were - we all knew we were seeing something unique but its nice to have the numbers to further appreciate just how special those were!

Chris said...

Well, no, Rany, the Royals did not have the most wins in the major leagues this year (see your Mike Arbuckle comment). Good try, though.

Chris said...

I should have added that, other than that one tiny slip, you are spot on!

Rany said...

Counting the postseason, the Royals won 106 games this year. No other team won more than 101.

Charles Winters said...

They also tied for most total wins in 2014 (I think). Both the Giants and the Royals finished with 100 that year. The Orioles had 99; Angels 98; Nats 97 in 2014.

tookee said...

It's a good deal. Not only for what it says to fans and teammates/organization, but they got a heck of a player locked up for 4 years, won't tie up resources forever, and keeps the pillar of a championship team intact. This is an excellent step. Now if they could find a RF'er with pop...