It has been a tough season to be Royal's fan, but I read a stat today that put me over the edge. It wasn't Miguel Olivo's well documented plate discipline (here and here and here), Zack Greinke's WAR (8.3) being higher than the entire offense (6.0) or that of the bottom 5 players in WAR (>200 AB), the Royals take up 2 of them (Jose Guillen being #1 at -1.9 WAR). Nope none of that fazed me. My disbelief started by reading baseball-refence.com's Stat of the Day that stated the Royal's production from the clean-up spot is the worst in baseball. No surprise that the worst offense has the worst clean up spot. This is where it got worse. Fellow blogger, RoyalRetro, who has a great website of Royal history, took it one step further and found that it is one of the worst batting order positions in baseball period. He has given me his blessing to take his analysis and go a little further.
Let's begin by looking at the rankings of the 270 (9 batting positions * 30 teams) batting positions this season. The batting positions are ranked according to OPS and here are the low-lights (link to entire list):
256 to 270 - The 9th batting spot for 15 of the 16 NL teams (OPS of 0.431 to 0.543)
255 - 9th spot at Detroit (0.556)
254 -- 7th spot at Seattle (0.566)
253 -- 4th spot at KC (0.573)
252 -- 9th spot at KC (0.574)
- 250 -- 9th spot at Colorado (0.599)
248 -- 2nd spot at KC (0.600)
176 -- 8th spot at KC (0.721)
The forth spot in the lineup is supposed to be one of the teams 3 best players, but it is the worst of the Royals Colorado's pitchers in the 9th spot hit better.
What sort of talented players take up this spot daily for the Royals? Jose Guillen and Mike Jacobs each batted 49 times in the cleanup spot and the ever dangerous Mark Teahen batting there there 26 times. Recently Guillen and Jacobs took it to a whole new level as they fought over who sucks the most in the cleanup spot (I am not sure what they fought over, but you never know). True to their baseball form, they both swung and missed.
The Royal's let an answer to the cleanup spot slip through their hands this past off-season when they traded Ross Gload and cash for a player to be named later. Since the trade happened on April 1st, fans thought it was a joke. Once it was determined not to be a hoax, there was much rejoicing in Royal's land.The joke ended up on us Royals fans as Ross could have been an improvement to the Royals if he was used instead of Guillen and Jacobs.
I did a lineup analysis of the Royals if Gload, using his 2009 Florida numbers, had batted in the 4th spot. Also, I swapped that 248th ranked #2 spot (usually Willie Bloomquist) with the 8th spot (usually Miguel Olivo). I used the lineup calculator at baseballmusings.com to run the estimates. The runs per game total goes from an estimated 4.25 runs per game (actual season number is 4.10 runs per game) to 4.55 runs per game. Over the course of a season that would be 50 additional runs [162 * (4.554 - 4.248)] or 5 more wins (assuming 10.5 runs will yield one addition win). It is pretty sad when that just batting Bloomquist 8th and replacing Guillen and Jacobs with Gload in the cleanup spot could lead a team to 5 more wins. Embarrassing really.
I know I am putting my reputation on the line by bad mouthing the Royals as they will not tolerate criticism. First Rany Jazayerli gets banned for bad mouthing the process. Last week Keith Law was told that he was banned. There has even been rumors of stadium ushers being fired at the stadium who were bad mouthing Hillman withing ear shot of his wife. I will wait my punishment from Dayton Moore like a man, but I can't take the complete front office ineptitude any more. I just hope they don't make me go across the parking lot and watch the Chiefs.