During the 2000s, no major league team lost more games than the Kansas City Royals. It was a decade where the positives far outweighed the negatives. This is the final installment of the 11-part Royals Rotten Decade series.
Over the course of the last 10 seasons, only four major league franchises won less than 700 games. The Baltimore Orioles won 698, the Tampa Bay Rays won 694, the Pittsburgh Pirates won 681, and the Kansas City Royals won 672. Of these four teams, the Rays won 84 games in 2009 and of course won 97 games en route to representing the AL in the 2008 World Series. The first eight years of the decade they had won fewer games than anybody, but they are now loaded with talent at the major league and minor league level. Despite having to fight with the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East, Tampa Bay has established itself as a force to be reckoned with in the short and long term.
On the bright side, the Kansas City Royals did something that both the Pirates and Orioles have failed to do in the last ten seasons, finish above 0.500. In 2003 the Royals finished 83-79. Interestingly enough that season was the closest Pittsburgh got to a 0.500 record as they finished 75-87. Baltimore would reach it’s high water mark in 2004 with a 78-84 finish.
Below is a quick recap of each season using OPS+ to rate the offense, ERA+ to rate the defense, and Rtz* to rate the defense. I also put links to each season’s recap (just click on the year in the table below) in case you missed any or want to revisit them.
*Rtz (Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average) is the number of runs above or below average the player/team was worth based on fielding plays made and can be found on Baseball-Reference.com.
Over the last 10 seasons the Royals have a run differential of -1,316 and much of the blame for that can be placed on the offense which has never really come close to sniffing league average. In terms of pitching the Royals were actually an above average team in 2007, and were just shy of league average in 2001. Defensively, in terms of Rtz, the team has been above average five* times.
The 2009 season seemed to be especially awful, but in retrospect, they were by far the worst Royals team of the decade. The team’s 91 OPS+ was actually better than the team’s 89.3 average for the decade. The staff’s 92 ERA+ was just under the 92.7 average for the decade. So in terms of OPS+ and ERA+ the 2009 Royals were just about a carbon copy of the team they were the previous 9 seasons. The big difference, as you can see in the above table, is in defense. The 2009 Royals finished with a -49.5 Rtz which was their worst mark outside of the 2005 season’s -85.6.
*In 2006 the team Rtz was -4.1 but the league average was -9.
The silver lining in all of this is that we, as Royals fans, are almost guaranteed to see better baseball and more wins out of our team in the next ten years. That may be a small consolation after the last ten seasons. Even in my most critical and pessimistic state of mind, it’s hard for me see a way they could possibly be any worse. If nothing else, the renovations have made a day at Kauffman a far more enjoyable experience.
After a month and a half, and approximately 11,400 words, the Royals Rotten Decade series is finally at an end. If you want to spend more time reliving the last ten years of Royals baseball, check out Joe Posnanski’s article on the topic.