Royals Rotten Decade (2001)


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 second 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 2, the 2001 Royals (65-97) 729 RS / 858 RA

Payroll:  $36.1 million (28th)  /  Attendance:  1,536,371

Draft:  RHP-Colt Griffin (1st), OF-Roscoe Crosby (2nd), 3B-Matt Ferrera (3rd), C-John Draper (4th)*

*The 2001 Royals draft class may be one of the worst in the history of MLB, but that is a post for another day.

Top Prospect:  LHP-Chris George

Above 110 OPS+ (Minimum 50 AB)
132 1B-Mike Sweeney (27): 0.304/.374/.542 in 559 AB
131 C-Gregg Zaun (30): 0.320/.377/.536 in 125 AB
122 CF-Carlos Beltran (24): 0.306/.362/.514 in 617 AB
115 OF/DH-Raul Ibanez (29): 0.280/.353/.495 in 279 AB

Above 110 ERA+ (Minimum 50.0 IP)
160 RHP-Jason Grimsley (33):  3.02 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 6.8 SO/9 in 80.1 IP
139 RHP-Cory Bailey (30):  3.48 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 8.2 SO/9 in 67.1 IP
119 RHP-Paul Byrd (30):  4.05 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 4.7 SO/9 in 93.1 IP
117 RHP-Roberto Hernandez (36):  4.12 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 6.1 SO/9 in 67.2 IP
111 RHP-Jeff Suppan (26):  4.37 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 4.9 SO/9 in 218.1 IP

The 2001 Royals cost $10.1 million more than the 2000 version of the team but gone was the dynamic offense.  The team scored 150 fewer runs than in the previous season.  The pitching staff gave up 72 fewer runs, but it wasn’t enough to offset the decline in run production or the offseason departure of Johnny Damon.

Only two players managed to hit more than 20 HR.  Sweeney hit 29 for the second straight year, and Carlos Beltran added 24.  The only other player to hit more than 15 was Mark Quinn who finished with 17 in 453 AB.  Beltran led the team in SB with 31, but the running game was non-existent otherwise.  Mike Sweeney was 2nd on the team with 10.  The team desperately missed Johnny Damon’s presence in the lineup and 5 of the 9 lineup regulars finished with an OPS+ of less than 80.

On the pitching side, things weren’t much better.  The Damon trade brought in veteran closer Roberto Hernandez but the bullpen still blew 20 of its 50 save opportunities.  Grimsley and Bailey turned in better seasons than anyone had in 2000, but the team still lacked anything remotely close to a front line starter.  All the younger guys that had given fans hope the previous season failed to improve.  Stein and Suzuki were again serviceable, and Chad Durbin (23) looked to be emerging.  However, Reichert, Santiago, and Meadows fell off the map.

With Damon’s departure, 2000 top prospect Dee Brown got his first chance at real playing time but fell on his face.  2001 top prospect, Chris George, made his debut and made 13 starts during the season, 6 of them were QS.  It was enough to give fans some hope, but he also showed that he lacked an out pitch.

As a team the 2000 Royals would finish in last in the AL Central 26.0 games back of the 1st place Cleveland Indians who went 91-71.  Kansas City’s 65-97 record was the 3rd worst in the AL barely edging out Baltimore (63-98) and Tampa Bay (62-100).

In the end the pitching staff was a little better, the offense was much worse, and the team was far less enjoyable to watch.

(Wally Fish is the lead blogger for Kings of Kauffman and FanSided’s MLB Director.  Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)