Reflecting on the 2014 & 2015 Kansas City Royals

The 2021 World Series ended yesterday with the Atlanta Braves winning their first World Series since 1995 in 6 games against the Houston Astros, who have now represented the AL in 3 of the last 5 World Series. The 2021 Atlanta Braves reminded me a ton of the 2014 Kansas City Royals, and if a few balls bounce the Royals way in 2014, their story lines could be pretty similar from start to finish. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about those 2014-2015 Royals teams a bit lately and decided it might be fun to compare those teams to what the Royals have coming up for the 2022 season to see if we can get a feeling for how far away the Royals may be to their next contention window. This isn’t going to be an exact science but hopefully it’ll be an entertaining read for you.

2014 Royals Hitters

  • Alex Gordon: .783 OPS, 120 wRC+, 5.4 fWAR
  • Lorenzo Cain: .751 OPS, 109 wRC+, 4.4 fWAR
  • Nori Aoki: .710 OPS, 102 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR
  • Eric Hosmer: .716 OPS, 98 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR
  • Billy Butler: .702 OPS, 96 wRC+, -0.5 fWAR
  • Alcides Escobar: .694 OPS, 93 wRC+, 3.5 fWAR
  • Salvador Perez: .692 OPS, 91 wRC+, 2.0 fWAR
  • Jarrod Dyson: .651 OPS, 84 wRC+, 2.4 fWAR
  • Mike Moustakas: .632 OPS, 75 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR
  • Omar Infante: .632 OPS, 74 wRC+, 0.5 fWAR
  • Team Totals: .690 OPS (17th), 92 wRC+ (21st), 18.8 fWAR (12th)

2014 Royals Pitchers

  • James Shields: 227 IP, 3.21 ERA, 3.4 fWAR
  • Jeremy Guthrie: 202.2 IP, 4.13 ERA, 1.2 fWAR
  • Jason Vargas: 187 IP, 3.71 ERA, 2.3 fWAR
  • Yordano Ventura: 183 IP, 3.20 ERA, 2.6 fWAR
  • Danny Duffy: 149.1 IP, 2.53 ERA, 2.1 fWAR
  • Wade Davis: 72 IP, 1.00 ERA, 3.1 fWAR
  • Kelvin Herrera: 70 IP, 1.41 ERA, 1.3 fWAR
  • Greg Holland: 62.1 IP, 1.44 ERA, 2.3 fWAR
  • Aaron Crow: 59 IP, 4.12 ERA, -1.0 fWAR
  • Bruce Chen: 48.1 IP, 7.45 ERA, 0.1 fWAR
  • Team Totals: 1,450.2 IP, 3.51 ERA (12th), 3.69 FIP (16th), 17.2 fWAR (9th)

I mean…how in the hell THAT team made THAT run is still beyond me. That is still my favorite October ever. My goodness. Three players in the lineup with a wRC+ above league average (100). Six players with 1.9 or more fWAR. Your everyday 1B/DH combo combined for -0.7 fWAR…what a run they went on, man. The Wildcard Game obviously gets most of the attention, and rightfully so, but the Royals played in some INTENSE games that October. Coming back to win games in extra innings, clutch home runs, crazy defense…MAN!

2015 Royals Hitters

  • Kendrys Morales: .847 OPS, 131 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR
  • Lorenzo Cain: .838, 128 wRC+, 6.1 fWAR
  • Eric Hosmer: .822 OPS, 124 wRC+, 3.5 fWAR
  • Ben Zobrist: .816 OPS, 124 wRC+, 1.5 fWAR
  • Mike Moustakas: .817 OPS, 123 wRC+, 3.8 fWAR
  • Alex Gordon: .809 OPS, 122 wRC+, 2.7 fWAR
  • Paulo Orlando: .713 OPS, 89 wRC+, 0.7 fWAR
  • Salvador Perez: .706 OPS, 87 wRC+, 0.8 fWAR
  • Alex Rios: .640 OPS, 72 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR
  • Alcides Escobar: .614 OPS, 66 wRC+, 1.5 fWAR
  • Omar Infante: .552 OPS, 43 wRC+, -1.3 fWAR
  • Team Totals: .734 OPS (10th), 99 wRC+ (9th), 21.8 fWAR (9th)

2015 Royals Pitchers

  • Edinson Volquez: 200.1 IP, 3.55 ERA, 2.7 fWAR
  • Yordano Ventura: 163.1 IP, 4.08 ERA, 2.7 fWAR
  • Jeremy Guthrie: 148.1 IP, 5.95 ERA, -0.8 fWAR
  • Danny Duffy: 136.2 IP, 4.08 ERA, 1.3 fWAR
  • Chris Young: 123.1 IP, 3.06 ERA, 1.0 fWAR
  • Johnny Cueto: 81.1 IP, 4.76 ERA, 1.1 fWAR
  • Kelvin Herrera: 69.2 IP, 2.71 ERA, 0.6 fWAR
  • Wade Davis: 67.1 IP, 0.94 ERA, 2.0 fWAR
  • Ryan Madson: 63.1 IP, 2.13 ERA, 0.9 fWAR
  • Franklin Morales: 62.1 IP, 3.18 ERA, 0.4 fWAR
  • Kris Medlen: 58.1 IP, 4.01 ERA, 0.5 fWAR
  • Luke Hochevar: 50.2 IP, 3.73 ERA, 0.2 fWAR
  • Greg Holland: 44.2 IP, 3.83 ERA, 0.8 fWAR
  • Jason Vargas: 43.0 IP, 3.98 ERA, 0.4 fWAR
  • Joe Blanton: 41.2 IP, 3.89 ERA, 0.5 fWAR
  • Team Totals: 1,452 IP, 3.74 ERA (10th), 4.04 FIP (15th), 13.8 fWAR (14th)

Joe freaking Blanton. Franklin Morales? The Royals had 17 different pitchers amass at least 20 IP in 2015 and only FIVE (5) of them had an ERA over 3.98. That is INSANE. Every single thing King Midas, er, Dayton Moore touched that year turned into gold. Add in the fact that 6 of your every day hitters had a wRC+ over 120 and 2 more were Gold Glove winners (Perez + Escobar), you have what was the best team in baseball for the entire 2015 season. What a team, man. That summer was so damn fun. From start to finish, just an absolute ass whipping of the rest of baseball. Let’s maybe don’t expect the Royals to look like this again for a few years. We’ll focus on that 2014 team until Pratto, Melendez, and Witt Jr. get a couple years of experience under their belt.

2021 Royals Hitters

  • Salvador Perez: .859 OPS, 127 wRC+, 3.4 fWAR
  • Andrew Benintendi: .766 OPS, 106 wRC+, 2.1 fWAR
  • Nicky Lopez: .744 OPS, 106 wRC+, 4.4 fWAR
  • Whit Merrifield: .711 OPS, 91 wRC+, 3.3 fWAR
  • Hanser Alberto: .693 OPS, 84 wRC+, 0.6 fWAR
  • Hunter Dozier: .680 OPS, 82 wRC+, -0.2 fWAR
  • Carlos Santana: .660 OPS, 83 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR
  • Jorge Soler: .658, 79 wRC+, -1.1 fWAR
  • Michael A. Taylor: .653 OPS, 77 wRC+, 1.9 fWAR
  • Ryan O’Hearn: .636 OPS, 70 wRC+, -0.7 fWAR
  • Team Totals: .702 OPS (25th), 89 wRC+ (25th), 13.3 fWAR (22nd)

2021 Royals Pitchers

  • Mike Minor: 158.2 IP, 5.05 ERA, 2.3 fWAR
  • Brad Keller: 133.2 IP, 5.39 ERA, 1.1 fWAR
  • Kris Bubic: 130 IP, 4.43 ERA, 0.3 fWAR
  • Brady Singer: 128.1 IP, 4.91 ERA, 2.0 fWAR
  • Carlos Hernandez: 85.2 IP, 3.68 ERA, 1.0 fWAR
  • Scott Barlow: 74.1 IP, 2.42 ERA, 2.1 fWAR
  • Daniel Lynch: 68 IP, 5.69 ERA, 0.5 fWAR
  • Josh Staumont: 65.2 IP, 2.88 ERA, 1.0 fWAR
  • Ervin Santana: 65.1 IP, 4.68 ERA, 0.1 fWAR
  • Jake Brentz: 64 IP, 3.66 ERA, 0.2 fWAR
  • Danny Duffy: 61 IP, 2.51 ERA, 1.6 fWAR
  • Greg Holland: 55.2 IP, 4.85 ERA, -0.2 fWAR
  • Kyle Zimmer: 54 IP, 5.00 ERA, -0.2 fWAR
  • Wade Davis: 42.2 IP, 6.75 ERA, -0.3 fWAR
  • Team Totals: 1,417.1 IP, 4.65 ERA (21st), 4.39 FIP (20th), 12.5 fWAR (20th)

I am frankly shocked the Royals didn’t have a bottom three pitching staff in baseball last year. SHOCKED. Maybe that’ll be enough for Cal Eldred to keep his job. The top half of the Royals lineup really wasn’t that far off of the 2015 team in terms of fWAR! Especially if you consider that Baseball Reference credited Salvy with 5.3 bWAR. You’ve got your star and then three phenomenal starters behind him. It was the bottom half of the lineup that was just worthless in almost every way in 2021. If Pratto, Melendez, Isbel, Mondesi, Witt Jr., Vinnie Pasquantino hit in any capacity in 2022…just two or three of them…you could be looking at a legitimately competitive lineup for most of the year. The pitching staff was much better in the second half as well. The one thing the starting rotation HAS to be better at in 2022 is eating innings. It is ridiculous how many innings the Royals bullpen was forced to eat this season. That cannot happen again in 2022.

I was going to post projections here for the 2022 Royals lineup…but there are some STARK differences between what ZiPS has up right now and what Steamer has up. Steamer appears to be broken (it is outlandish right now) and ZiPS may not have been updated for a while. By now we probably know about what we can expect from Salvy, Whit, Lopez, Taylor, Benintendi, and Dozier. Dozier was much better in the second half last year and I think we can expect something similar from him in 2022. Not an All-Star, not nearly as bad as he was early on either.

Then you have the kids. 2022 will be all about seeing what you can get out of them. Can Bobby Witt Jr. grow into this team’s Lorenzo Cain? Can Nick Pratto hit more like 2015 Eric Hosmer than 2014 Eric Hosmer? Can MJ Melendez be more like 2015 Mike Moustakas than 2014 Mike Moustakas? Can Vinnie Pasquantino hit more like 2015 Kendrys Morales than 2014 Billy Butler? Can Kyle Isbel provide value in the lineup? If the answer to any number of these questions becomes yes, the Royals are going to be in good shape for a while.

But they HAVE to get more out of their rotation next year. I don’t even need quality innings. Just get me more innings, period. If they can do that with the guys they currently have on the roster, I am going to be pumped up as we head into the 2023 season.

One thought on “Reflecting on the 2014 & 2015 Kansas City Royals

  1. Hitters greater problem since 2/9th of lineup are almost automatic outside. Pitching not great either but compared to MLB they weren’t statistically as bad as offensive.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s