Sometimes life has an odd sense of timing.
I recently, after chasing several millennials from my yard, did a very moderate amount of research with regard to the current ‘core group’ of Royals. You know the guys: Perez, Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain and Escobar. Basically, the group that came on the scene at roughly the same time and promptly played major roles in pushing the Kansas City Royals from laughingstocks to champions.
My goal was to find something interesting in the Royals’ record with and without each member of that core group in the lineup. Well, shocker, the Royals are better when those guys are in the lineup than when they aren’t. We are, after all, talking about full-time starters for the better part of the last six seasons. I was further tempted to try to piece together the team record when all five were playing, but that seemed a daunting task for someone who is generally lazy. Plus, baseball by its nature does not really lend itself to putting a team’s success on the presence or lack thereof of just one player. It occurred to me that I was chasing down some analysis with all the relevance of Pitcher Wins. While there were some interesting data points in the numbers, it seemed there was not enough to warrant a column.
Then Salvador Perez went on the disabled list.
Since making his debut in 2011, the Royals have a .438 winning percentage when Salvador Perez starts the game (407-350). In games in which Perez did not start, the team has managed just a .442 winning percentage. Those numbers are a bit skewed, however, in that Kansas City was a bad baseball team in 2011 and 2012 when Salvador played in just 39 and 75 games respectively. Taking those two seasons out, the Royals are 355-288 (.552) with Salvy starting from 2013 through last night’s debacle versus a 53-63 (.457) mark when he does not start.
Over the same time frame (2013 through last night), check out the win percentage in games started for some others:
|Games Started||Not Started|
Again, we are dancing into dangerous territory here in that there are so many variables beyond one player that effect the outcome of a game. Even the biggest Hosmer hater would be hesitant to make the claim that the Royals are the same team without him at first base than when he does make the start. His numbers in particular have less relevance as Eric has not started just 58 games in the last four and one-half seasons, with 36 of them coming in 2014 when a then still capable Billy Butler was there to take his place.
Still, for whatever it is worth, the Royals win at a dramatically higher rate with Perez in the lineup (duh!), and the team has a larger differential than the other mainstays in the lineup when he is out. We have proved nothing with these numbers other than what most of us (basement dwellers, guys near the dirt and those that keep their eyes on the game – sarcasm intended) already knew: Salvador Perez is the player the Royals can least afford to lose for extended periods of time.
The Royals, currently playing a .500 Cardinals team followed by six against the not good White Sox and Athletics, have a 12-game run against Cleveland, Colorado and Tampa coming up. Believe what you want when it comes to the team records plus or minus one regular player. Disregard it entirely, I wouldn’t blame you, but how nice would it be for Salvador Perez to be back in the lineup when the Indians come to town on August 18th?