Dayton Moore’s Money Ball tactics have helped the Kansas City Royals succeed in the past.
When Dayton Moore first came to town, Money Ball was all the rage. The Bill James revolution was gaining ground. Most organizations were still fighting it, but they were starting to listen. The biggest lesson from Money Ball was to take advantage of undervalued assets. A tactic the Kansas City Royals used to win a World Series.
In 2014 and 2015, the Royals’ starting staff was weak. HDH was starting to break up when Greg Holland got hurt. Starters were too expensive, so the Royals began acquiring affordable relievers who were coming off injuries or bad seasons. Seeing an opportunity, they concentrated on pitchers who had shown previous success in the majors.
Ryan Madson, Chris Young, Jason Frasor, and Joe Blanton provided quality innings when needed. Added to an already potent bullpen, it covered up the weak and injured rotation. Every team was watching, and the reliever market sky rocketed upward afterward. Now, even average talent relievers are getting multi-million dollar contracts.
Dayton seems to see a new area that is being underappreciated. The Royals have been concentrating on second tier pitching talent other teams have. They play close attention to those who they wanted to draft originally like Brad Keller. The collection of arms Moore has stolen from Rule 5 picks, picked up on waivers, and traded for seem impressive so far. Keller has been outstanding, and Jorge Lopez and Heath Fillmyer have shown talent.
In addition, Trevor Oaks has done well in Omaha. We will see what Sam McWilliams, Chris Ellis, Ben Lively, and Connor Greene can do. I like this strategy so far. If it’s successful, watch this door close just as quickly as it did for relievers bouncing back. Success breeds copycats. The thing with Money Ball is it will always be fluid. You have to keep looking for what is not being valued and move quickly before other organizations take notice.
One avenue that seems to be opening up is the Free Agent market for position players. With teams purposely tanking and not spending money, non-elite, above average players, could be hired on multi year contracts at fairly reasonable prices.
Mike Moustakas is a good example. I really don’t see him signing anything more than three years and 35 million. More likely under ten million a year and not a multi year contract unless it’s with an option. Of course, he is still out there looking for a home. Perhaps he will find his his home again in Kansas City.