Are the 2012 Royals a bad team?

Are the 2012 Kansas City Royals a bad baseball team? This question that was asked frequently during the notorious twelve game losing streak. Because the losing streak happened so early in the season it is a legitimate question. I know the 2012 version of the Royals is not a good team. Good teams don’t go on twelve game losing streaks and have starting pitchers with ERAs above 7. However, does this Royals team have the potential to get near .500 like we anticipated in March? Or are we looking at another 100 loss season? There is only one place to find these answers: Baseball-Reference.

The Royals have had four 100 loss seasons in their history. Let’s see how the 2012 Royals would stack up if they were in a division with those four teams after 25 games:

Year W L GP GB
2002 8 17 25 –
2004 8 17 25 –
2012 8 17 25 –
2005 7 18 25 -1
2006 5 20 25 -3

As you can tell the 2012 Royals are in some bad company. You can tell me this team is more talented than those teams. You can tell me that their Pythagorean W-L shows a record of 10-15 and that the Royals have been “unlucky” so far this season. The team is playing better and has won 5 out of their last 8 since ending the losing streak. Including what I consider to be Mike Moustakas’ emergence as “player” on the major league level. Yes, injuries have been a major problem and I expect this team will play a lot better when Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez, and Felipe Paulino return from the disabled list. However, other major league teams have injury issues too. Even the 2005 Royals had a stretch from May 31st to Jun 16th where they won 11 of 15, including a 3 game sweep of the Yankees at Kauffman Stadium. I remember that sweep well; it was the highlight of that season.

The reality is this team has real pitching problems. It’s not like we didn’t know pitching could be an issue. It became apparent early last season that the pitching at the major league level and in the minors was not going to be enough open a “playoff” window anytime soon. It is such a major story line for me I wrote about it four times last season: here, here, here and here.

If the Royals are ever going to contend be a mediocre team instead of terrible they will need to add pitching. Danny Duffy has made some strides this season at becoming an ace pitcher this team needs. However, Duffy is just one pitcher. Felipe Paulino has shown some promise but a long way from a sure bet. I don’t see Bruce Chen or Luke Hochevar as long term solutions.

It’s frustrating that six years after Dayton Moore said “pitching is the currency of baseball” not much has improved among the starting rotation. There needs to be more pitching. Pitching is expensive whether you trade for it, or pay for it. The problem is, Even if ownership approves such a costly move, which is up for debate in the first place. I don’t have confidence in this front office to execute such a deal. Dayton Moore has been flat out schooled in trades at the major league level.

That is why I’m leaning toward this version of the Royals being a bad team. The glaring holes in the roster configuration have not been fixed from last year. Not to mention this team seems to lose focus a lot more than last year. I think the likelihood that this is another 100 loss season is greater than the Royals turning it around and getting near .500. The next question is, can the front office get enough pitching before it’s time for this young nucleus to chase their free agent contracts?

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