Morning Coffee: 83 Wins in 2013
The Royals spring training record of 14-2 gives them a winning percentage of .875, which would extrapolate out to a 142-20 regular season record. So while I hemmed and hawed about my prediction for 2013, I did take that into consideration and then I realized that while it’s a lot of fun to win in spring training and it’s certainly better than losing, I don’t think they’re going to win 142 games. What I did was mix a little math with what I saw with my eyes when I was in Arizona combined with reports and put it all together and I came up with a prediction of 83-79 for the Royals. I’ll put out a prediction for the rest of baseball in a couple weeks, but the sneak peak of that is I currently have the Royals finishing second, but barely ahead of the White Sox.
If you look at the 2012 Royals, which is the team the 2013 is building from obviously, they finished with a 72-90 record, but had a pythagorean record of 74-88. That isn’t much of a difference, but it seems like a good jumping off point. In the off-season, the Royals added serious pitching rotation depth in James Shields, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis. They also will get a full season (hopefully) of Salvador Perez to replace the less than stellar results from the catching position as a whole last season. They didn’t subtract much from the big league team as the offense stays pretty much intact from what they finished the season with in 2012. The bullpen might see one real addition in Donnie Joseph, and the way he’s pitched this spring has been very impressive.
As it stands, the current Royals rotation will be James Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Wade Davis and probably Luis Mendoza with Luke Hochevar’s demotion to the bullpen. That group of five threw 823.2 innings last season, gave up 803 hit, walked 257 and struck out 648. That’s less than a hit per inning, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.1 K/9. If you take the 2011 season for Wade Davis since he worked as a starter that year, the numbers decrease a bit with a 4.38 ERA in 937.1 innings, a touch more than a hit per inning, the same 2.8 walks per nine and just 6.4 K/9. Even with down seasons from Ervin Santana and Jeremy Guthrie, if this group was together in 2012, they’d have been a HUGE boost from what we saw from last year’s rotation.
Based on the math of it (and this is very rough here, of course), a decrease in starter ERA of about 0.6 points happening in about 2/3 of the innings means the new rotation saves the Royals about 60 runs over the course of the season. That right there is six wins. The bullpen should pretty much maintain their level. I think they could get better, but that would be a pretty tall task and something that is tough to predict. Offensively, I see four positions that can really be expected to improve. They are the catcher, first baseman, third baseman and center fielder. I think Moustakas and Perez are very likely to improve on their position’s numbers. First base, I’m a bit worried about, but Hosmer has to be better. I hope. And center field is probably the position I’m least confident about due to the health concerns with Lorenzo Cain. I think all of them combined are probably good for another six wins. So we’re at 86 wins now. And I know what you’re thinking. That’s three more than I said earlier. Yes it is.
There’s a couple more components here. They are regression and injury. This kind of mixes into my seeing the team explanation and not going by the math or the statistics, but I don’t think a guy like Alcides Escobar is going to have the same season he had last year. I saw a very small sample size, but last year’s BABIP indicates to me that he is due for a bit of a tumble. A guy with speed can maintain a little higher BABIP, but .344 is so far above what he’s done in the past that I wouldn’t bet on him to repeat it. If he does, that’s fantastic. And on the injury front, I think it’s unrealistic to think the team can go through 162 games without a few injuries. If they do, good for them, but it’s just not likely. With regression and injuries, I knock about three wins off my prediction to come to…83 wins. Ta da!
The scouting side of my prediction comes from the fact that I look at a team that has some solid players, some very good players and a few players who you could argue have no business on a big league roster. The bullpen is dynamite and the starting rotation should be much improved, but there are holes throughout the team. The only starter I’m confident in what he’s going to do is James Shields. I like Jeremy Guthrie more than most, but he’s also getting up there in years and has only been above average once in the last four years. Ervin Santana is coming off a year where he was awful while Wade Davis is attempting to transition back to a starting role. I almost feel the second most comfortable about knowing what they’ll give with Luis Mendoza, but even he’s only done it for one year, so who knows for sure?
Offensively, the team has two bona fide very good players in Alex Gordon and Billy Butler. They have two guys who could be MVP candidates. One of them, I think, is a pretty safe bet to be at least average (Salvador Perez), but the other (Eric Hosmer) was awful last year and in the WBC has looked like his issues from last year might be back. He could really go either way. Then you’ve got guys like Moose and Cain. I think Moustakas is clearly a better player than Cain and probably has the same MVP candidate ceiling like Hosmer, Perez, Gordon and Butler, but I just don’t see it happening yet. Cain playing a full season with the defense he provides and the pop in the lower third of the order could be huge for this team. Second base could really do anything with Giavotella having upside if he gets the job and Getz, well, not. And then there’s right field. I’m not confident in right field.
Put it all together and you have a team that I see as a bit above average. With 81 wins average, a bit above puts you at right about…83. Ta da!
One thing I’ll say, and it’s something I’ve been saying for awhile, is that this team has a really wide range of win possibilities. If things go south, they could easily win between 68 and 72 games. I don’t see that happening, but it’s hard to argue that it’s not possible. And if everything goes right, I think they could be a 90-93 win team. That includes all the starters staying healthy and then pitching to their highest levels of their careers. This seems pretty unlikely, too. All in all, I think this is easily the most talented Royals team in quite some time and their record should reflect that. Of course, being the most talented Royals team in awhile isn’t exactly the highest of compliments, but an 83-79 season would be a huge step forward from what we’ve seen in the last nine seasons. A few breaks the right way and this team will be in the hunt for the playoffs down to the last couple weeks of the season, which would be pretty exciting. Time will tell, but I’m going with 83-79. What’s your prediction?
Follow me on Twitter @DBLesky
About The Author
Leave a Comment
You must be logged in to post a comment.