This team is much better than their record.
Let's stick with the numbers again. There is a very real possibility this team sets the franchise record in single-season losses. A hot September has not removed that possibility. But, no matter how the final record looks, these Royals are better than it.
I can try to grade this team on a curve, make up excuses for them being young and still rebuilding, and all that. But, statistician Bill James created the Pythagorean winning percentage to show just how much a team has overperformed or underperformed. This metric, one of the many James created, "determine[s] the number of games that a team *should* have won -- based its total number of runs scored versus its number of runs allowed," according to the MLB glossary.
Here is the Baseball Reference formula, for you aspiring mathmeticians out there.
W%=[(Runs Scored)^1.81]/[(Runs Scored)^1.81 + (Runs Allowed)^1.81]
How does this apply to the Royals? As of Sept. 29, the Royals have a .393 Pythagorean winning percentage, a great improvement from their .344 winning percentage. That 49-point swing is one of the biggest in MLB this season and would be the biggest difference in Royals franchise history.
I am not saying a .392 winning percentage is good. That would give the Royals more than 60 wins, but still the league's bottom five. Hey, at least they would be better than the Chicago White Sox by one win!
This team is not perfect. There are holes to address, strategies to reevaluate, and a massive talent disparity remains. All James' formula says is that the 2023 Royals are not as bad as their current record reflects.