Since joining Royals Authority earlier in the season, I have been at a loss for what to say about this year. It has been such an insane roller coaster that I find myself just wanting to go along for the ride instead of analyzing it. Plus, I’ve had more important things to write about, like the greatness of Jason Grimsley. But the enormity of this series with the Tigers has motivated me to dust off Excel and make some pretty pictures.
It is not telling you anything new to say the Tigers and Royals have achieved their similar records by vastly different means—the Tigers with a big offense, a strong rotation, and suspect defense and relief pitching, the Royals with no offense, a decent rotation, and suffocating defense and relief hurlers. Still, I thought it might be instructive to contrast just how big the differences are. This first chart plots position player rankings in various categories in the AL (through September 17):
It is almost comical. The only two things in which they are in the same neighborhood, average and strikeout rate, are relatively minor when it comes to actual run scoring. How is it even possible that the team with the fewest home runs and walks is in a pennant chase? Royals Devil Magic (RDM), that’s how. Also by running the bases extremely efficiently, getting their hits at the right times, and playing better defense than anyone else.
Here is how the pitching staffs stack up:
More of these rankings are close together than in the previous chart, but even that is somewhat deceiving considering how different the starters and relievers are between the teams. “SD” and “MD” are shut-downs and melt-downs, defined as the number of times a relief pitcher either gains or loses 6% win probability in a game. Tigers relievers have melted down 17 times more than Royals relievers while Royals relievers have 32 more shutdowns than their Tigers counterparts.
Enough numbers. I’m going to hop back on the Royalscoaster and hope the RDM keeps rolling for another six weeks or so.