This is the continuation of a weekly stats column to examine how this year’s Royals compare to the 2015 World Series champions. All numbers through Tuesday’s game.
After allowing four home runs in 2 1/3 innings during the Royals’ 8-3 loss to Toronto on Tuesday, Chris Young is continuing a season in which he has no peers in major-league history.
Among all pitchers, starters or relievers, who’ve thrown at least 50 innings in one season, the worst home-run rate coming into this year belonged to former Royal Glendon Rusch, who surrendered 2.85 homers per nine innings in 2006 with the Cubs.
This year, in 60 innings with the Royals, Young’s home-run rate is 3.90 homers per nine.
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Another way to look at it: There have been 23,747 pitching seasons in major-league history with at least 50 innings. Young ranks 23,747th in home-run rate — and he’s winning (losing?) by more than one home run per nine.
It’s not the only ugly number. Young’s FIP — the stat measures how a pitcher fares when it comes to only home runs, strikeouts and walks — of 8.12 also ranks last in major-league history, safely ahead of second place, held by Joe Magrane in 1994 (7.71). When it comes to Fangraphs’ WAR, Young’s -1.5 mark is 12th-worst in history.
One final way to view it: Fangraphs estimates Young’s value to the Royals this year has been negative-$12.1 million. For context, the site has Salvador Perez as KC’s most valuable player, and he’s been worth $15.3 million.
It’s all a long way of saying this: Major-league teams typically don’t stay this patient with pitchers who throw this poorly. The Royals are in a bad spot with Young’s contract (he’s owed $4.25 million this year and $5.75 million next year, with a $1.5 million buyout after that), but it’s hard to imagine he gets many more chances considering the never-before-seen statistics he’s put up so far.
Let’s take a look at this week’s team numbers.
2015 — .269/.322/.412 (Batting average/On-base percentage/Slugging percentage)
2016 — .273/.320/.411
Last 7 games — .225/.276/.373
It was a bad week for the offense and especially Perez and Paulo Orlando, who combined to reach base just one time in 38 plate appearances. The Royals still are pacing for roughly the same offensive production as a season ago, though, with a triple-slash line that is nearly identical to 2015.
Hitting with runners in scoring position
2015 — .282/.347/.426
2016 — .272/.329/.399
The Royals went 10-for-52 with RISP this past week (.192), and while that’s not good, it also indicates there weren’t many runners to drive in. In fact, against Toronto on Monday, KC went 0-for-0 with runners in scoring position, getting its two runs on homers from Kendrys Morales and Eric Hosmer.
2015 — 4.34 ERA, 16.8 K%, 7.6 BB%
2016 — 5.08, 20.9, 9.0
Last 7 games — 5.09, 22.6, 8.4
The Royals starting pitchers remain in the No. 1 spot for having the most homer-happy staff in major-league history. Royals starters have surrendered 1.73 home runs per nine innings — up from 1.70 last week — but are getting a push from this year’s Cincinnati Reds, who are at 1.70. Interestingly, former Royals players/farmhands Brandon Finnegan (1.60 HR/9), John Lamb (1.71) and Cody Reed (3.60) all are experiencing their own issues with longballs.
2015 — 2.72, 22.9, 8.7
2016 — 2.82, 22.9, 8.1
Last 7 games — 3.71, 21.8, 8.2
Wade Davis moving to the DL will hurt the Royals — he ranks as KC’s second-best reliever this year behind Kelvin Herrera — but getting healthy will be worth it if the pitcher gets his dominant stuff back. Davis’ 1.23 ERA looked great, but the underlying numbers showed a reduced strikeout rate and increased walk rate, meaning he was pitching more at the level of a 3.00 ERA pitcher. While that’s still good, it’s not the dominant Davis that Royals fans have come to expect the last two seasons.
2015 — 51 defensive runs saved (.315 per game, 2nd in MLB)
2016 — 23 defensive runs saved (.277 per game, 6th in MLB)
Just for reference: KC’s top three in defensive runs saved: Jarrod Dyson (15), Lorenzo Cain (9), Whit Merrifield (7). KC’s worst three in DRS: Alcides Escobar (-6), Eric Hosmer (-5), Edinson Volquez (-4).
Top 5 in Fangraphs WAR
2015 — Cain 6.6, Moustakas 3.8, Hosmer 3.5, Gordon 2.8, Ventura 2.7
2016 — Perez 1.9, Cain 1.9, Volquez 1.4, Duffy 1.3, Herrera 1.3
Tough week for Perez, who had a -0.5 WAR week with a triple-slash line of .040/.077/.040. Danny Duffy would appear to have a chance to take over the top spot by the end of the season, as he continues to increase his innings as part of the Royals’ rotation.
Bottom 5 in Fangraphs WAR
2015 — Infante -0.9, Guthrie -0.9, Almonte -0.4, Gomes -0.3, Coleman -0.2
2016 — Young -1.5, Escobar -0.6, Gee -0.2, Fuentes -0.1, Cruz -0.1
If Young doesn’t throw another pitch, he’ll post the worst single-season pitching WAR in Royals’ history, topping 2006 Ambiorix Burgos’ mark of -1.2. Young appears to be safe from the worst overall season in Royals’ history, though, as 2002 Neifi Perez (-2.9), 1973 Lou Piniella (-2.4) and 2009 Jose Guillen (-2.2) set dubious marks that are unlikely to be reached.