Royals Rotten Decade (2005)


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 sixth 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 6, the 2005 Royals (56-106) 701 RS / 935 RA

Payroll:  $36.9 million (29th)  /  Attendance:  1,371,181

Draft:  3B-Alex Gordon* (1st), SS-Jeff Bianchi (2nd), RHP-Chris Nicoll (3rd), OF-Joe Dickerson (4th)

*Alex Gordon is the only member of the 2005 Royals draft class to reach the major leagues thus far.  Fairness in conversation, a few players, Jeff Bianchi and Danny Gutierrez to name two, still have a chance.

Top Prospect:  OF-Billy Butler

Major league debuts:
OF-Chip Ambres (25)
1B-Justin Huber (22)
LHP-J.P. Howell (22)
LHP-Andrew Sisco (22)
RHP-Ambiorix Burgos (21)
RHP-Leo Nunez (21)
RHP-Jonah Bayliss (24)
RHP-Steve Stemle (28)
RHP-Chris Demaria (24)

Above 110 OPS+ (Minimum 50 AB)
129 DH-Mike Sweeney (31):  0.300/.347/.517 in 470 AB
118 1B-Matt Stairs (37):  0.275/.373/.444 in 396 AB
114 CF-David DeJesus (25):  0.293/.359/.445 in 461 AB
114 OF-Aaron Guiel (32): 0.294/.355/.450 in 109 AB
113 RF-Emil Brown (30): 0.286/.349/.455 in 545 AB

Above 110 ERA+ (Minimum 50.0 IP)
142 LHP-Andrew Sisco (22):  3.11 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 9.1 SO/9 in 75.1 IP
132 RHP-Mike MacDougal (25):  3.93 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 9.2 SO/9 in 70.1 IP
111 RHP- Ambiorix Burgos (21):  3.98 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 9.2 SO/9 in 63.1 IP

Coming off a dreadful 2004 season, it seemed unlikely that things could get worse.  Unfortunately the team managed to win two fewer games than the year before.  The team payroll was slashed from $44.7 million to $36.9 million giving them the distinction of having the 2nd lowest payroll in all of MLB.  Only the Tampa Bay Rays, with their $29.4 million payroll, spent less.

Offensively, things were still a mess, but the team did improve upon their 2004 OPS+ of 85 to finish 2005 with an OPS+ of 91.  The improvement didn’t lead to an increase in runs scored and they finished the year with 701, a full 19 short of their 2004 total.  Mike Sweeney again led the offensive “attack” with 21 HR and 39 doubles, both of which led the team despite the fact that Mike only played in 122 games.  Emil Brown finished 2nd on the team in HR with 17.  Matt Stairs, John Buck, and Angel Berroa hit 13, 12, and 11 HR respectively to round out the top five.  Emil led the team in SB with 10 and Berroa and Teahen finished second with 7.  As a team they stole only 53 and were caught 33 times.  Brown also led the team in runs, with 75, and RBI, with 86.

On top of scoring 19 fewer runs than in the previous season, the team allowed 935 runs.  That total represented an increase of 30 from the prior year and at the time was a franchise record.  In terms of ERA+ the team dropped from a mark of 91 in 2004 to a retina burning 79 in 2005.

It seemed impossible to imagine, but the starting pitching found a way to be even more terrible.  Zack Greinke followed up his impressive rookie campaign to go 5-17 with a 5.80 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, and 5.6 SO/9 in 183.0 innings.  His ERA+ dropped from 120 to 76.  Zack wasn’t alone however, as no other starter gave Kansas City a league average season in terms of ERA+.

Jose Lima returned to the Royals after spending 2004 with the Dodgers.  Instead of recapturing some of his 2003 season magic, Jose pulled a steaming dookie out of his hat.  He went 5-16 with a 6.99 ERA and ERA+ of 63 in 168.2 innings pitched.  For some reason he stayed in the rotation and made 32 starts.  Perhaps even more miraculously is the fact that he landed a job in the majors the following season.  In 2006 the New York Mets gave Lima 4 starts, he gave them an ERA+ of 44.  Believe it!

Runelvys Hernandez made 29 starts and finished with an ERA+ of 80.  D.J. Carrasco had an ERA+ of 92 between 20 starts and 1.1 innings coming out of the bullpen.  22-year old J.P. got in on the act for 15 starts, but suffered a similar fate as the rest of the rotation.  He wound up with an ERA+ of 71 in 72.2 IP.  Mike Wood started 10 games for Kansas City and had the best season of his career in 2005.  He finished with an ERA+ of 99, but most of his success came as a result of his 37 appearances as a reliever.  As a starter, in 54.2 IP, opponents hit 0.309/.384/.567 off of him.  As a reliever he held opponents to a far less unsightly line of 0.266/.352/.408 in 60.1 IP.  The rest of the starts came from; Denny Bautista (7), Brian Anderson (6),  Jimmy Gobble (4), Kyle Snyder (3), and Ryan Jensen (3).  Gobble’s 77 ERA+ was the best of that bunch.

In the bullpen, the Royals caught lightning in a bottle with 22-year old rule 5 pick Andrew Sisco.  Initially the team tried to hide him at the tail end of their pen, but it quickly became apparent that he was their best option.  He wound up appearing in 67 games.  It was an impressive rookie season, but he’d throw only 72.1 more innings in the big leagues and finished with a career ERA+ of 88.  Burgos also made an impressive major league debut, but unlike Sisco, had success beyond 2005.  After being traded for Brian Bannister on December 6th, 2006, Burgos pitched 23.2 innings for the Mets in 2007 with a 3.42 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 7.2 SO/9.  He wound up having Tommy John Surgery later that season.  His reputation for being a “bad apple” turned out to be well deserved.  He was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend in September of 2008.  Less than a month later in the Dominican Republic, Burgos hit and killed two women with his SUV and drove off.  Six days later he turned himself in to the authorities.

MacDougal joined Sisco and Burgos with an ERA+ over 110, but no other reliever, regardless of innings pitched topped 100.  In 2004 the Jaime-Field-Camp trio pitched 156.2 innings, and the sum of their individual ERA+ numbers equaled 385.  In 2005 Jaime-Field-Camp pitched 74.2 while the sum of their ERA+ equaled 182.  It was that kind of year.

The offense struggled to score runs.  The rotation and bullpen struggled to keep runs from scoring, but manager Tony Pena may have had the roughest season out of anyone.  Two years after the 2003 miracle, Pena got the team off to a woeful 8-25 start and wound up resigning on May 10th.  It was a near certainly that he was going to get fired anyway, but Pena parted ways with the Royals amidst speculation on his involvement in a divorce trial .  Bob Schaefer “won” the job of interim manager and led the team to a 5-12 record before Buddy Bell was hired to manage the team.  Under Buddy, the Royals went 43-69.

Kansas City finished the season 43.0 games back of the 1st place Chicago White Sox who, at 99-63, had the best record in the American League.  They finished 15.0 games back of the 4th place Detroit Tigers who went 71-91.  The Royals were far and away the worst team in all of baseball.  The next closest teams were Colorado, Pittsburgh, and Tampa Bay with 67 wins each.

Most teams head into the offseason with hope for the next season.  At the end of 2005, the Royals and their fans had only one realistic goal in mind.  Win more than 62 games and avoid 100 losses for the 4th time in five seasons.  They’d fail to reach that goal, but that is a story for another day.

(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.)