Thursday, October 11, 2012

2012 Royals In Review

 It was a bad year. Good night folks!

The starting pitchers seem to get the lion's share of the blame for the Royals poor record, but the offense was equally at fault. Combine the starters and relievers performance as measured by win probability added, and the arms come out looking a whole lot better than the bats:

But, yes, the starters were a problem. Here's how stark the difference was between the starters and relievers by WPA:

Notice that the hitters and starters come out with almost the exact same win probability added.

While that is a huge spread between the starters and relievers, it's not that unusual. Three AL teams had a larger difference in WPA between their relievers and starters (Twins, Orioles, and Indians). (Only the Tigers, Angels, and White Sox starters posted more WPA than their bullpens. Only the Mariners and Angels bullpens had negative WPA.)

The bullpen was only fifth in the AL in WPA, but they led the loop in fWAR. Part of that comes from being used so much thanks to the weak rotation. The bullpen was only fifth in K% and ninth in BB%, but limited homers better than any other AL 'pen. Their 7.3 fWAR was the highest in team history and resulted in the fourth time the Royals bullpen has led the league in fWAR:

As for the rotation, they posted the fourth worst adjusted FIP in team history with an even worse adjusted ERA:

Maybe the less said about the rotation the better.

The offense was fourth in the AL in batting average and stole bases pretty well but struggled to score runs. If this were the 1970s or prior, that might be confusing, but of course the Royals were bad in the areas that actually correlate to scoring runs: Getting on base and hitting for power.

This chart shows the team rank in various offensive categories (I've explained or linked to explanations of some of the stats in the caption):

ISO, wOBA, wRC+, BsR=base-running of the non stealing variety, SBr = (.2 x SB)+(-.4 x CS), WPA

It's kind of amazing they had the lowest homerun, walk, and strikeout rates. They loved to put the ball in play. If it's true that former hitting coach Kevin Seitzer's philosophy focused on hitting for average, I'm glad they let him go. It's ironic considering Seitzer was one of the best on-base guys in team history as a player.

Here's a similar chart for the pitchers:

ERA-, FIP-, xFIP-, OPS=opponents OPS, WPA, QS=percentage of games with a quality start, GmSc=game score average
A not great but not terrible K rate, a terrible walk rate, and a good home runs against rate led to a middle of the pack FIP but only a tenth place finish in runs allowed.

Moving on to the confusing world of defense:

"Eff" is defensive efficiency, which is a simple measure of what percentage of balls in play the defense turned into outs. The Royals were at 68.9%, worst in the AL. The fact that UZR and DRS rate the Royals a little better suggested to me that spacious Kauffman Stadium suppresses defensive efficiency. Except Baseball Prospectus has a park adjusted defensive efficiency...and the Royals are still last. So the Royals were at best mediocre on defense and possibly really terrible. I felt good whenever a ball was hit to the left side of the field and nervous when it was hit to the right side.

The end!

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