KC Royals reliever Joakim Soria has given up 14 leads in 2016. Kansas City ended up losing 12 of those games. But, what happened after those painful losses? Was there a hangover effect?
Yes, the Kansas City Royals did indeed suffer a hangover effect following games in which Joakim Soria gave up a lead. Kansas CIty is 5-6 in games immediately following a Soria gaffe (excluding his failure on September 20, since the team has yet to play another game).
If we extend the scope to three games following Soria’s failures, the KC Royals are 15-18. That’s sub .500 records both one and three games following Soria blowing a lead. That’s not very good when you consider Kansas City is currently a .510 team. The Royals winning percentage improves to .534 if we throw out the post-Soria meltdown games.
However, those numbers don’t tell the entire story. Soria’s blown games have touched off two damaging losing streaks. After throwing away a lead on June 2 against the Indians, Kansas City lost their next seven games. That eight game losing streak is their longest in the 2016 season. Soria’s blown game on September 14 against the A’s sent the KC Royals into tailspin in which opponents outscored them 29-9 over the next three games (all losses).
The June 2 loss came just after six straight home wins. The subsequent eight-game road losing streak seemed to get into the team’s heads. They struggled away from Kauffman Stadium for months afterward. The September 14 loss came as the Kansas City Royals needed to make up ground in the wild card race. Poised to post a win immediately after losing 16-3 to the woeful A’s, KC instead spun into a five-game losing streak.
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Blowing that game against the A’s was particularly damaging. The KC Royals are now five games behind the Orioles for the AL’s second wild card. Without that tailspin, they’d still be strong contenders for a wild card instead of having fringe hopes at the post-season.
Of course, the naysayers to this data would point out we’re talking about small sample sizes. Simple variance could have caused those numbers, and the “effect” isn’t strong enough that we can be certain it was caused by those losses. Of course, this data-driven objection doesn’t take into account the crushed body English the team displayed in both of those losing streaks. Especially after the September 14 loss to the A’s, the team looked tired and listless despite their opportunity to make up ground against losing teams.
None of the players will say anything against Joakim Soria in public. That’s a good thing. But, I’m certain that KC Royals fans aren’t the only ones who cringe when Soria comes into a tight game at this point in the season.
Baseball players are human, too. Plus, they’re a superstitious lot. If they can attribute a winning streak to a praying mantis, I have a hard time believing no one in the clubhouse has noticed The Soria Effect