There’s nothing left to play for, unless the a battle for fourth place is your idea of fun. (After the Carnage In Cleveland over the weekend, I’m not even certain a battle exists) The Chiefs are undefeated and the final week of the baseball season brings two teams with a history of postseason appearances on modest payrolls built through the draft and canny trades in for a final visit. It’s OK to have Twin or Ray envy. These are two teams who know what they’re doing. We can only hope the Royals resident sabermetrician is taking copious notes.
(Side note: Is the Rays attendance situation crazy, or what? If the Royals were playing meaningful baseball in September, not only would the stadium be packed, everyone would be wearing blue and hospitals would have an increase in parents naming their newborn boys Yuniesky. This city would be insane. I get the economy sucks – especially in Florida where there are apparently more vacant houses than occupied – but still… In a metropolitan area that large, it doesn’t make sense. It’s easier to understand that the stadium is a poorly-located dump. Traffic in the Tampa area is a bitch and there’s basically one way to get to the stadium. Imagine if the only way to approach the K was from I-70 from the east. Not making excuses here… Somethings are worth the effort. Or the drive.
Now they’re giving away 20,000 tickets. Talk about marketing fail… Way to devalue your product, Rays. But I digress…)
Anyway, there are just a few days left in the 2010 season, but there are still some questions that remain about the Royals. This post is inspired by Dodger Thoughts who posted 10 questions about the LA Dodgers that will be solved by the end of the season. I began this post with the aim of finding 10 for the Royals, but they are so damn uninteresting I could only come up with five. Here goes…
Will the Royals team leader in HR finish the season in San Francisco?
Current leaders are the Yunigma and the dearly departed Jose Guillen each with 16 home runs and Billy Butler is nipping at their heals with 15. Thankfully, Ed Kirkpatrick’s record of fewest number of home runs to lead the team is safe for another season. He clobbered just 14 home runs to lead the ’69 Royals.
Can the Yunigma stay above replacement level?
According to Fangraphs’ WAR formula, Betancourt currently owns a 0.5 WAR, placing him ahead of Alcides Escobar and Cesar Izturis in the pantheon of criminally horrible shortstops.
But he has a bunch of RBI!!!
(But he also has the second most plate appearances on the team. Opportunity does not equal quality.)
Do you remember the Yost Effect?
Guess who the worst team in baseball is, post All-Star Break:
Royals — 26-43, .377
Mariners — 26-43, .377
Pittsburgh — 26-43, .377
Dodgers — 28-42, .400
Nats — 29-40, .420
The Pirates have the number one spot locked up for next June’s draft, but the Royals can pick anywhere from second in the draft to seventh. As they sputter to the finish line, I’m betting they get passed by a resurgent Oriole team and finish with the third pick in next year’s draft.
Can Billy Butler set the season record for grounding into double plays?
The record for the most GIDP in a season belongs to Jim Rice, who hit into 36 twin killings in 1984. He followed that up with 35 in ’85 and owns the top two spots on the leaderboard. Butler has hit into 30 double plays this season, and if he hits into three more, third place on the all time list will be his, and his alone.
Will any Royals starting pitcher finish with an ERA+ of 100 or better?
Zack Greinke’s fiasco start in Cleveland dropped his ERA+ to 99 on the season and meant that all Royals starters were below the 100 threshold. The last time the Royals failed to have a starting pitcher with an ERA+ of above 100 was in 2006 when Luke Hudson and his 5.12 ERA led the staff with an ERA+ of 92. I don’t have to remind you, that was the year Mark Redman was an All-Star.
Are you excited yet?