Will Errors Cost the Kansas City Royals the A.L. Central?


Sep 7, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees shortstop

Derek Jeter

(2) beats the throw to Kansas City Royals shortstop

Alcides Escobar

(2) in the second inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

While I enjoyed a rare opportunity to watch the Kansas City Royals on the east coast, as well as an even rarer rain-soaked win on national television, I couldn’t help but wonder what’s going on with their once vaunted D.

Granted, a 3-0 win on 2 hits may not seem to be the best time to bring this up, but keep reading and you’ll see from where these concerns are coming.

If a lot of our readers are anything like me, more often than not you follow games on Twitter or Gamecast and sometimes only get to look at the box score or read a quick recap. Considering this, it’s probably easy (if not misleading) to see the startling trend of errors as of late, and wonder how that has affected KC’s ability to hold on to the top spot in the AL Central – now (for all intents and purposes) at just .5 games.

“Since the start of September, the Royals have uncharacteristically committed 11 errors …”

Since the start of September, the Royals have uncharacteristically committed 11 errors while compiling a respectable 6-3 record.

All told, they have 92 errors on the season, and a fielding percentage of .983, both of which rank them in the bottom half of the AL (9th)—despite having what most pundits consider one of the best defenses in baseball.

Next, compare that to the AL-leading Seattle Mariners, who have only committed 67 errors, but own only a slightly better .988 fielding percentage. This paradox got me thinking though—are these statistics blown out of proportion, as is often the case, or are they really cause for concern?

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In all of 2013, Kansas City committed only 85 errors and amassed a fielding percentage of .986 – good for only 7th in the AL in both categories.

I find it odd that the Royals are already more erroneous with 18 games left in the season, yet are only slightly worse when compared to the rest of the league. Let’s not forget that last year’s seventh ranked team still featured three Gold Glove winners in LF Alex Gordon, C Salvador Perez and 1B Eric Hosmer.

This season the leading error culprits are the same as last: SS Alcides Escobar (14 E, 13 in 2013), 3B Mike Moustakas (12 E, 16 in 2013) and Gold Glove winner Hosmer (9 E, 8 in 2013).   Not startlingly different, but still on pace to be worse (if not already) than last year.

What does this all mean? Well, in all honesty, your guess is as good as mine.

There are plenty of sabermetric arguments about traditional defensive statistics not meaning much. I’m also a big believer in the ability of making numbers say pretty much whatever you want. To prove this point, the 1.2 error per game the Royals are currently averaging through 9 games in September have only cost them four runs in two loses – so maybe it’s not that big of a deal?

But when you consider the Royals lack of offensive production, I think everyone would feel much better if KC stopped this disturbing trend and tighten things up defensively.

It would definitely go a long way towards snapping a certain 29-year streak.