During the 2000s, no major league team lost more games than the Kansas City Royals. It was a decade where the negatives far outweighed the positives. This is the first installment of the 11-part Royals Rotten Decade series. I will briefly examine each season in the last decade before wrapping up the decade in the 11th and final part.
Part I, the 2000 Royals (77-85) 879 Runs Scored / 930 Runs Allowed
Payroll: $25.9 million (28th) / Attendance: 1,564,847
Draft: LHP-Mike Stodolka (1st), C-Mike Tonis (2nd), C-Scott Walter (3rd), OF-David DeJesus (4th)
Top Prospect: OF-Dee Brown
Above 110 OPS+ (Minimum 50 AB)
135 RF-Jermaine Dye (26): 0.321/.390/.521 in 601 AB
131 1B-Mike Sweeney (26): 0.333/.407/.523 in 618 AB
126 C-Hector Ortiz (30): 0.386/.443/.455 in 99 AB
118 CF/LF-Johnny Damon (26): 0.327/.382/.495 in 655 AB
Above 110 ERA+ (Minimum 50.0 IP)
130 RHP-Jose Santiago (25): 3.91 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 5.7 SO/9 in 69.0 IP
117 RHP-Mac Suzuki (25): 4.34 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 6.4 SO/9 in 188.2 IP
The offensive future of the Royals had arrived with Dye, Sweeney, and Damon all 26 years old and bolstered by “Dos Carlos” with Febles 24 and Beltran 23. LF/DH Mark Quinn was also 26, heading into his prime, and finished the 2000 season with an OPS+ of 105. Five players hit 15 or more HR including Dye (33), Sweeney (29), Quinn (20), Damon (16), and Randa (15). Damon was the only player on the team to steal more than 20 bases with a total of 46. Outside of backup 1B, David McCarty, the team had absolutely no bench.
The pitching staff was without a frontline starter but made up for it with a collection of young arms which collectively held their own and looked poised for better things in future seasons. Of the 12 pitchers who logged 50 or more innings in 2000, 10 of them were under the age of 30 and 7 of them were 25 or younger. In addition to Santiago and Suzuki the team received above average seasons from Blake Stein, Dan Reichert, Brian Meadows, Ricky Bottalico, and Jeff Suppan. These five each contributed an ERA+ between 100-109. What the team lacked more than anything else was a reliable closer. The 2000 bullpen blew 26 of 55 save opportunities resulting in a dreadful 53% success rate.
The Royals finished 18 games out of 1st place in the AL Central. The 95-67 Chicago White Sox took the division title and finished with the best record in the AL. Even if the Royals had converted 1/2 of their 26 blown saves, it wouldn’t have been nearly enough to overtake the Sox or even perhaps the 2nd place Cleveland Indians who finished 90-72 (4th best in the AL).
The 2000 edition of the Kansas City Royals was a much better team than the 77-85 record would indicate and they were an incredibly fun team to watch on a daily basis. With a halfway competent bullpen the team would have finished with a record well north of 0.500.
The 879 runs scored are a franchise record. Unfortunately for fans, the 930 runs allowed were, at the time, also a franchise record. It was the second straight season they would set both of those marks.