The first half ends the way it started, with the White Sox and Royals squaring off to determine nothing of import whatsoever.
What the first series did — as did the subsequent series, and all of June and the first 10 days of July — is position the Royals as a team who can make the White Sox feel better about themselves at every turn.
When they last met, the White Sox took three out of five games at Kauffman Stadium to close out April. The standings then:
- White Sox: 8-18
- Royals: 7-21
The two teams didn’t meet over the course of May. The White Sox had another disastrous month with a single-digit win total, while the Royals played a more respectable brand of baseball. At the end of May, it appeared as though the Royals could only prop up the Sox in person:
- Royals: 20-36
- White Sox: 16-37
Then June hit. The White Sox got Carlos Rodon, Avisail Garcia and Leury Garcia back for varying lengths of time. The Royals stopped hitting, resulting in one of the worst offensive months in baseball history. The standings:
- White Sox: 28-54
- Royals: 25-57
And July has shown no signs of a Royal rebound:
- White Sox: 31-61
- Royals: 26-66
The White Sox are 15-24 since the start of June, the kind of pace that leads to a 100-loss season on the nose. And they’re somehow 7½ games up on the Royals during this window, because Kansas City is on a 135-loss pace over this same stretch. You think the White Sox are unwatchable because they’ve won one of their last seven games, except the Royals have only won one of their last 12.
Say what you will about the White Sox, but they’re unlikely to go 6-30 over a 36-game stretch. Think of all the frustration you’ve endured watching these White Sox, and then realize that this offense has been 61 runs better than Kansas City’s over the start of June. If you want to put that into slash lines, since June 1:
- White Sox: .237/.288/.376
- Royals: .211/.268/.332
Of course, there’s pitching. The White Sox have a ghastly 4.97 ERA, which ranks 29th out of 30 MLB teams. They’ve also registered a measly 683 strikeouts, which ranks 28th.
You’ll never guess who ranks 30th in both.
The Royals manage to out-sad the White Sox in other ways, too. It’s not a lot of fun watching Jose Abreu slide into the All-Star Game, but Sal Perez is hitting .217/.257/.386 and has been worse than replacement level (-0.9 WARP). Whit Merrified, by far Kansas City’s best player, is interested in a long-term contract, but it doesn’t make sense to give him one because he won’t be a free agent until his age-34 season. They’d probably be better off trading him and Mike Moustakas, and it’s staggering to think what the Royals will look like then.
This doesn’t necessarily ensure success against KC, although Matt Davidson surely hopes otherwise since he’s hitting .202/.309/.356 with a 38 percent strikeout rate over the 48 games since he last saw Royals pitching.
Both teams are awful and Carlos Rodon just pitched, so perhaps the Sox are just what Kansas City needs to find some semblance of respectability. Ideally, the White Sox would win or sweep the series to draw a line of demarcation between the disappointing and the irredeemable, but the White Sox haven’t been reliable in any one aspect this season, so it’s a distinction they’ll have to earn.
I was considering going to at least 2 games this weekend, but man this was a more effective deterrent than the surgeon general’s warnings on cigarette packaging.
So we got that going for us. Which is nice.
Simply unbelievable that in a season where we’re 30 games under .500 we still aren’t the worst. Not even second worst. I don’t even.
And this cycle will continue for the foreseeable future. It seems sabermetrics knowledge has brought about more hardcore rebuilding efforts, so more teams intentionally not bothering to be competitive.
And when/if those teams are competitive, the ones at the top will be old and need to flip the switch to rebuild as well.
I don’t think the O’s plan was to be this bad. In fact, I don’t think it was the Royals plan to be this bad. In a way, the Sox, Reds, Marlins, and to a point the Padres, are all bad at being bad.
I think the Sox are doing a good job being bad. The Orioles thing is crazy how everything seemed to go south for them except Machado at the same time. However the Royals have said several times that they were not expecting it to be this bad yet since they had a couple guys from the title teams hanging around still.
My podcast co-host is a Royals fan and predicted they’d finish around .500 this year. He was… wrong.
Baseball is kind of embarrassing right now. It’s the NBA, but without the salary floor.
Your caption elicited a more robust laugh from me than Today’s Dilbert (which as always was pretty good).
can wait for Jim’s “Can do, we can do better” version
I am going to a game this weekend, but can’t decide which one. Shields, who always seems to be pitching when I’m there, so that’s boring; Lopez, who’s been squirrelly lately; or Giolito, who’s been terrible overall, but was pretty good last time.
Also, tomorrow it might rain. But that’s when they’re doing all the 1993 stuff.
Decisions, decisions. The good thing about rooting for a bad team is that I can decide 5 minutes before game time and still get a good ticket.
I’d go with ReyLo/the ’93 Sox.
Side note: Is Ventura supposed to be there? If so, I bet he gets boos.
He will not be there. Ventura had travel plans with his son for this weekend.
You mean “travel plans” with his “son”
I’m shocked at how fast it took the Royals to get this bad. I figured they’d be bad, but not this bad. But I guess Duffy and Perez imploding combined with the loss of talent from last years team and here we are. They are amazingly horrible and fairly hopeless on top of it.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot and this probably isn’t the best place to drop this, but I’m going to finally write it down. FWIW, I don’t think the Sox are nearly as bad as they’ve looked. Baseruns has them at about .400 winning percentage (or 65 wins) and that’s bad! But not nearly as bad as their actual record. Then you look at the Sox record in one run games, 21-23 last year compared to 7-19 this year… so bad team + bad luck = disappointment.
But at the same time, while the record should be better, which would make most of us feel a little bit better about the rebuild, it also seems like that would be misguided. Aside from Tim Anderson, none of the other major pieces of the rebuild on the MLB club have been mild to gigantic disappointments.
-Reynaldo Lopez doesn’t strike out enough guys while walking too many. To hope that he’s anything more than a #4 starter would be far too optimistic. Maybe he’s a great bullpen arm, and that’d be great, but those are most valuable in the playoffs and you gotta get there first.
-Lucas Giolito is a disaster and I have no clue what to do.
-Fulmer has (probably) been mishandled (still) and it’s unclear what he’s role will be.
-Moncada had a great start, got hurt, and then threw up some red flags once he got back. And he sucks from the right side of the plate. And he might not be a second baseman.
-Their best young reliever on the team has had two Tommy John surgeries.
It’s not all bad of course. Rodon has put together some nice starts. Yolmer is very useful depth player. Moncada has been very good in July. Anderson has developed at the plate and is some BABIP luck away from maybe running a 4 or 5 win season one of this years. But these have all been bits and pieces. So while you have a team that “should” be better record wise, the players who hopefully would be leading you to that better record, haven’t given one a ton of hope.
I think you’re being too hard on Lopez. He still has development left in him. Otherwise hard to argue.
This is the headline of the year.
It is a depressingly accurate description of 2018.
I can’t tell if this was supposed to make us feel better or worse.
Yesterday, somebody in the newsroom mentioned the quote about nuclear war — that the living would envy the dead. That comes to mind a little.
(He was talking about the line outside Build-A-Bear on Thursday, but still.)