Monday, June 3, 2013


Quickly, we are behind schedule due to untimely illness and a desire not to dwell too long on one of the ongoing sore points in our seemingly endless bitch-slap of the KC contingent, who are likely to have Neil Young's "Helpless" in heavy rotation at this point in time...

...but, gol'darn it, we tried to warn you four weeks ago: in fact, we tried to be downright gentle about it.  But it doesn't matter: harsh, or soft, argued with "scientfic precision" or literary scalpel, the facts are what they are: there is some serious bad mojo surrounding the Royals and those mournful mountebanks in the various strata of the neo-sabe inflected media (see, we pulled the punch...we could have said "infected" instead of "infLected").

The second sixth of the season seems to have been the one in which the Royals (and, by extension, Joe P. and Rob N. and Rany J.) fell through the trap door once more. But even we were a bit surprised by the length and force of that fall, given where KC had been after the first sixth of the year.

As the chart at right demonstrates, the Royals underwent an astonishing reversal in the second sixth of 2013, a classically fearful "white boy fall down go boom" sequence that seemed to happen by degrees. According to Pythagoras (PWP), KC managed to win four fewer games than they "sbould have" over the span of games.

And this was fueled by a notable feat that we don't (yet) have a way to easily contextualize. Over this stretch of time, the Royals managed to lose twelve consecutive close games.

Don't mis-read that, please. They did not have a twelve-game losing streak in the conventional sense. Over a three week period, from May 6 to May 27, the Royals lost every game they played that involved a run differential of two runs or less.

That will definitely assist in losing four more games that you "should" during a particular skein of games, now, won't it?

We seriously doubt that this is some kind of record, but Forman et fil doesn't have a way to tease this data out of their vast trove as yet, and we're informed it might be awhile before they can toss it into their giant SQL blending machine.

Let's just say that, wherever it sits in the overall history of close-game losing streaks, it sure sucked the air out of the tires of the KC marching and chowder society's carefully patched-up jitney.

Guthrie: 5.74 ERA in second sixth...
One thing we can do, though, is look at how the Royals lost those twelve consecutive close games. It turns out that (just to make the twist of the knife a bit more excruciating), they blew leads in nine of these games--five of 'em in late innings. Again, we don't have an "anatomy of losing" on hand that tells us what the normal pattern for suffering a loss entails--how many games where the team never lead or was always behind, as opposed to games where they blew a lead--but we're willing to toss out the idea that this is likely close to a 50-50 proposition, and that out of any twelve losses, only a couple of them should be late-inning blown leads.

Santana: 4 HRs allowed in first 36 IP;
9 HRs allowed in next 41.
Davis: 7.76 ERA in
second sixth...
So bad luck (bullpen failures), a dip in run scoring (-1.1 per game for the second sixth as opposed to the first), and serious regression from three of the Royals' starting pitchers (Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie, and Wade Davis) allowed KC to fall through yet another trap door.

In the case of Santana and Guthrie, the gopher ball hurt them (in this stretch, the two starters by themselves gave up more HRs than the Royals' batters managed to hit--18 HRs in just 11 GS, as opposed to only 13 HRs in 27 games by the offense). In the case of Davis, it's becoming clear that the Royals' attempt to convert him back into a starter is just not working.

Of course, KC needs to fix its offense, which also fell through the trap door. They gave away four, maybe five games in this stretch, which doubled down on the downside of the luck they had in the first 27 games in 2013. Their run differential was only a bit worse than the White Sox, who also scored less than 3.5 R/G in the second sixth but managed a respectably mediocre record (12-15).

They just need to quit finding that trap door. But it really does seem to be this franchise's unavoidable signature--and its signature "talent."

[UPDATE: Pat put-down conclusions notwithstanding, keep in mind that even with the woeful swoon in the second sixth of the thirteen, the Royals are not without a solid chance at both respectability and improvement. That, of course, only underscores how bad they've been, both in recent years and over the past two decades. But there's no reason not to think that they'll win more games that they did in '12. It's just that certain weaknesses are now exposed, ones that seem likely to keep them from becoming a serious contender. They will have a stretch of ten games with contending teams starting next week, and they'll need to show some turnabout capability in order to keep this season from looking like so many of the ones that have preceded it.]