Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

With odds stacked against Royals, they win anyway

MLB.com @TracyRingolsby

What makes Dayton Moore so good is that he's comfortable being himself. He's not concerned about getting accolades or attention. His focus is on winning.

And Moore's Royals have won, finally. The franchise ended a 29-year postseason drought in 2014, losing to the Giants in a seven-game World Series.

What makes Dayton Moore so good is that he's comfortable being himself. He's not concerned about getting accolades or attention. His focus is on winning.

And Moore's Royals have won, finally. The franchise ended a 29-year postseason drought in 2014, losing to the Giants in a seven-game World Series.

The Royals put to rest a 30-year World Series championship void by claiming the American League Central last season, eliminating the Astros and the Blue Jays to advance to the World Series, then dispatching the Mets in five games.

Not that it seems to matter.

With the Royals coming off an AL pennant in 2014, the computer models predicted they wouldn't even finish at .500 last season, so the team probably shouldn't have anticipated a whole lot of input love after winning the World Series.

One offseason after FanGraphs projected Kansas City would finish 80-82 and PECOTA churned out a 72-90 expectation, the Royals are getting ready for Spring Training with the knowledge that, this year, FanGraphs is predicting a 79-win season and a fourth-place finish in the AL Central. (PECOTA is still crunching the numbers.)

In fairness to the folks at those sites, they don't claim to be perfect. Hey, last spring, nobody had more fun reflecting on that prediction of 72 wins for the Royals in 2014 than the folks at PECOTA.

Bottom line is, the stats are a tool, not a definitive answer. And Moore is a modern-day executive who understands old-time values. He has an impressive staff of number-crunchers and pays attention to what they churn out.

However, Moore hasn't forgotten about the human factor. It was a big part of his big league indoctrination.

Moore grew up a diehard Royals fan, having been born in Kansas. He spent summer vacations back home, even when his family was moving around, which gave him an up-close view of the Royals' decade of domination from 1976-85, when they advanced to the postseason seven times and won a World Series in '85.

That was a franchise that had talent, but more than that, it had a grasp on the idea that the team was bigger than the players.

Steve Farr, who had spent the eight previous seasons with the Pirates and Indians, was scrambling for survival at the time. He was at home in Maryland in April 1985 when Royals farm director Dick Balderson called and offered him a job in the bullpen with Triple-A Omaha.

By August, Farr was in the big leagues and embarking on nine-plus professional seasons, which would then include being a part of that 1985 World Series championship team in Kansas City.

Asked a couple years later why his career turned around so much after signing with the Royals, Farr pointed to sitting in the bullpen during the first game of a doubleheader against the Tigers on Aug. 8, 1985, the day he was called up to Kansas City.

In the top of the ninth, Johnny Grubb lined a Bret Saberhagen pitch past center fielder Willie Wilson for a double.

"He has to get a better break,'' Farr said of Wilson.

"He has to throw a better pitch," bullpen ace Dan Quisenberry said of Saberhagen.

Point made.

With those Royals, just like the current Royals, it wasn't about anyone in particular. It was about the team. And most of all, it was about winning.

Video: Pair of Royals teams win World Series 30 years apart

In Moore's adult life, his indoctrination into pro ball came in Atlanta, under the tutelage of John Schuerholz, who had been the general manager of the Royals before taking a similar job with the Braves.

"You look at the standings,'' Schuerholz once said. "It lists the team name with wins and losses. It doesn't list the manager or general manager or coaches or players."

Moore learned his lesson well. He is always looking at how a player is going to fit into Kansas City's scheme.

So what if Lorenzo Cain, who finished third in voting for the AL MVP Award, was the only Royals player in the top 10? Is it a big deal that reliever Wade Davis, who finished sixth in voting for the AL Cy Young Award, was the only one of the 14 players to receive a vote who played for Kansas City? What difference does it make if manager Ned Yost only finished sixth in voting for the AL Manager of the Year Award?

It's nothing to the Royals. They don't get caught up in the limelight. They're focused on winning.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.

 

Kansas City Royals