KC Royals general manager Dayton Moore is enjoying his day in the sun this winter. But did he “tank” (intentionally lose) in order to build his World Series winning team?
Dayton Moore’s team has won two straight American League pennants. He’s won the World Series. Some argue that the Kansas City Royals have been the most successful team in baseball over the last two seasons.
However, not everyone is joining the chorus of accolades.
Anonymous owners and executives of big-market clubs have grumbled to media insiders about teams “tanking” seasons to accumulate multiple seasons of high draft picks in order to build a winner. They say small-market teams have pursued such a strategy while pocketing “balancing” subsidies from large-market teams.
The big market teams grouse that such a practice harms league revenue by driving down attendance, and TV ratings, for teams that pursue a “tanking” strategy. These critics insist that small market subsidies should be invested in free-agents to improve the on-field product rather than pocketed by ownership, or even held to finance future winning rosters.
The teams most frequently mentioned are current “rebuilding” teams like the Phillies, Braves, Reds, and Brewers. Emerging teams facing such accusations include the Houston Astros, Cubs, and Minnesota Twins. all of whom are loaded with young prospects transitioning to the major-leagues.
Should the Kansas City Royals be included on this list?
The KC Royals have ranked in the bottom third of major-league payroll seven out of the 10 years Dayton Moore has held the general manager job in Kansas City. In 2011, the KC Royals’ fell to dead last in the major-leagues with a payroll of $38 million. The same season, the Royals also set a record when Baseball America ranked nine KC prospects in the top 100 in baseball.
The KC Royals continued to lose in 2011-12, posted the franchise’s first winning season since 2003 in 2013, won the AL pennant in 2014, and the World Series in 2015.
The first question I will address is whether the Kansas City Royals have, indeed, rode a “tanking” strategy to their current success. Then, I will discuss whether “tanking” is actually a problem that major-league baseball needs to correct.
Next: How To Distinguish 'Tanking' From 'Rebuilding'