I imagine various events will remind me of just how special the 2015 Royals were throughout the rest of my life. Wednesday night’s fifth game between the Yankees and Indians was one of those events. To lose game seven the way the Royals did in 2014 and then to come back and win a title is truly remarkable. It’s just so hard to get through the MLB postseason that I think it’s important to remember how amazing 2015 was. Just think. A little less spin on a Kendrys Morales ground ball and the Royals would have faced the same fate as the Indians this season. Maybe worth nothing, but it’s good to keep in mind just how close it can be between winning a title and not even making it to the league championship series.
- I wrote earlier this week about the Royals signing Eric Hosmer and the maneuvers they’d have to take to get there. One thing I didn’t mention is that if the Royals do re-sign Hosmer and Mike Moustakas or Lorenzo Cain, they’re missing out on the opportunity to gain valuable draft picks and, in turn, valuable draft slot money. As it stands right now, if the Royals lose Hosmer, Moose and Cain to free agency with contracts of $50 million or more and they receive a competitive balance pick in next year’s draft (which they should), they could end up with one of the three or four highest draft pools in all of baseball, and that’s with holding just the 18th overall pick. If you want to look at a way the Royals can attempt to be competitive while also rebuilding the system, it would actually make sense to sign guys who are maybe more of the stopgap variety for first and third, and take the picks/money for the guys leaving. So if they go out there and sign Yonder Alonso and Todd Frazier, they won’t get quite the production of Hosmer and Moustakas, but it wouldn’t be that far off in all likelihood and they’d be able to rebuild the system through the draft with all that money and in the international market after they lose their restrictions on July 2. Maybe it’s not Alonso and Frazier, but whomever it is might make more sense in the long-term than the guys we already know.
- It sounds like Dale Sveum is going to be the Royals bench coach in 2018, based one of Jon Heyman’s articles. That means two things. First, it means he’s likely in the driver’s seat to take over as manager when Ned Yost leaves, though things can change quickly. Second, it means the Royals are now in the market for a pitching coach and hitting coach. I haven’t really thought much about pitching coaches, but with John Farrell’s dismissal in Boston, it seems that Chili Davis is available to pursue other options. I don’t know if he’d want to leave Boston for Kansas City, but the reviews on Davis as a hitting coach are just fantastic, and I think that would be a home run hire for the Royals. He only spent one season with the Royals, but he did reach his career high in home runs in that season with 30, so maybe there’s a soft spot in his heart. I don’t know. I’m sure there are plenty of great options, but I would think that would be the sort of hire that would really help some of the young talent develop once they get to the big leagues.
- As the game changes, we kind of have to evolve with it. What I mean by that is that there’s a lot of context in pretty much everything that can change from year to year. For example, in 2014, the Royals posted a team ERA of 3.51. It was good for fourth in the American League and it was 0.23 below the league average of 3.74. In 2017, the Royals team ERA was more than a run higher at 4.61, and while they were a worse pitching staff than the 2014 unit, it maybe wasn’t quite as much worse as it seems because the league ERA was 4.36, about two-thirds of a run higher than just three years earlier. I don’t say that to make excuses for the Royals or anything in 2017, but just to remind everyone that sometimes it’s smart to take a look at the context of the situation. Another example is Eric Hosmer’s 25 home runs in each of the last two seasons. On the surface, 50 home runs over two years is impressive. In reality, 47 players had that many or more. From 2013-2014, when offense and home runs were down significantly, only 18 players had 50 or more home runs over two years. That’s a big difference. It’s hard to recalibrate expectations sometimes, but just a reminder that it’s important to do that or else you might not be looking at the player or stat the best possible way.
- With three 100-win teams this season, it would have been nearly impossible for all of them to get the appropriate amount of love from prognosticators. Even so, I found it very interesting how much people loved the Indians without mentioning the Astros or Dodgers too often. It was the Astros and Dodgers, not the Indians, that were the best teams in their respective leagues for most of the season. Both had their down times late, but both were absolutely dominant throughout most of the season. That’s not to say the Indians weren’t deserving of their status as favorites, what with their run to game seven of the World Series in 2016 and their ridiculously impressive 2017 season, but it struck me as odd that the Dodgers and Astros were kind of the forgotten teams. Well, here we are. They’re the two of the four left standing and I don’t think it should come as any surprise that the two teams that were the best for most of the year are now the favorites to meet in the World Series. And because baseball is baseball, it should still be no surprise if neither gets the Fall Classic, but they’re clearly the two best.