In 2003, the Kansas City Royals were flat out bludgeoning other teams at the plate. They were in the top 10 in the A.L. in hits, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging.
They started off by riding a great beginning to the season and hit their way out of a team ERA of 5.05. They were in the race to win the Central division until the bitter end, but couldn’t overcome a poor second half of the season.
Last year, Royals pitching mowed down their opponents with an A.L. leading 3.45 ERA. The imposing staff of hurlers was easily the strongest the team has trotted out since the mid-80’s.
This made up for an at best mediocre offense that frustrated fans the entire season. In both cases the deficient side of the ball club brought down the stronger side, but still kept the Royals in contention because they were streaky.
In 2003,timely hitting helped overcome the pitching situation, but when the pitching was on, it was on. Mike MacDougal had 24 saves before the All-Star break…and finished with 27.
His ERA ended up over 4. Ten years later, the pitching staff carried the squad all season and only when players like Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer overcame their epic cold-snaps did both sides of the ball come through to make the team complete. Watching James Shields pitch a complete game and lose 1-0 was beyond frustrating for Royals fans.
Still, those other-worldly hot streaks are what kept the team contenders in both of those years. Sure, by the end, it failed them both times, but they were right there till the last couple of weeks. So, we must ask ourselves, which is worse?
So far the 2014 Royals have been pretty meek at the plate, but not historically bad. Sal Perez is hitting well, Eric Hosmer currently leads the league in doubles, and Alcides Escobar is hitting the exact opposite way he did last year.
The pitching staff isn’t quite as good, but still solid. As of Tuesday, the team’s record is 28-30. Pretty much average.
So which would you rather have? A streaky team that may break your heart or lift them up to possibly pull off the unthinkable? Or an average team that hangs around, hoping their effort is good enough at the end?
It’s a hard question. As a fan of the franchise, it’s nice to not be a bottom dweller or see them play their way into a long losing streak. But it’s also not as satisfying as feeling those highs of improbable success.
Being average also leaves us with less hope that the team can hit above its weight when it counts and over-achieve its way into the playoffs.
Personally, it’s a good feeling knowing the Royals aren’t a bad team anymore. If you’d asked me a few years ago which I’d rather have, I’d take average any day.
Now, however, a part of me pines for one of those streaks at just the right time so that we could carry the teams new found success into the promised land.
Tags: Kansas City Royals