A few days ago, Rany Jazayerli wrote this:
As a fan of the franchise, their performance over the last 20 years has been an unending tragedy. But as a fan of baseball, and moreover as someone who has been intimately involved with the rise of analytics in the world of sports, the existence of the Royals has been a constant source of validation. Some team has to play the negative counterpart to the A’s and Rays. Some team has to serve as the control in the hypothesis, “Does sabermetrics work?” I just wish it wasn’t my team.
As I wrote when we played them in April, the Royals lineup does not have many former Braves in it at the moment. I’m not really making this game thread to make fun of the Royals — they’ve had a really, really bad two and a half decades — so much as to point out that the stakes are a whole lot higher for them right now than they are for us:
- The Braves offense has been scuffling for two weeks and we’re still six games ahead of the second place Nationals. The Royals offense has been unexpectedly dreadful and they’re mired in third place, 6.5 games behind the Tigers.
- Obviously — obviously — we all know that this is far from definitive, but: with almost three months gone by, according to Baseball Prospectus, the Braves have an 88.4% chance of making the playoffs. The Royals have a 4.1% chance of making the playoffs.
- Frank Wren and Fredi Gonzalez have reasonable job security, unless the Braves suffer another 2011-style collapse down the stretch. Moore and Yost have very little job security. Frank Wren’s first full season as Braves GM was 2008, and Fredi Gonzalez’s first year as skipper was 2011. Dayton Moore’s first full season as Royals GM was 2007, and Ned Yost’s first year as skipper was 2010. (I’m counting Yost’s games as manager in his half season in 2010, but not counting Moore’s half season in 2006 because he didn’t have much of a chance to build or alter the team.) Here are the teams’ won-loss records in that time:
Wren: 476-411 (.537)
Fredi: 227-174 (.566)
Moore: 454-591 (.434)
Yost: 233-291 (.445)
This was the year that it was all supposed to come together, when the Best Farm System in the History of Whatever was supposed to bear the fruit of a division title. So they pushed their chips to the center of the table, traded Wil Myers for James Shields, and built their hopes around Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez, and the rest of the youth brigade. And… well, they’re not the ’91 Braves.
That said, tonight’s starter is Ervin Santana, who is somewhat inexplicably in the midst of a possible career year. He’s slashed his walk rate almost out of existence and cut down somewhat on his homers. So tonight won’t be a cakewalk. But the Braves don’t need this game nearly as badly as KC does.
Still, let’s stomp ’em anyway.