The date was Nov. 1, 2015. OK, well it actually bled into Nov. 2, thanks to Game 5 running to 12 innings. Regardless, the Kansas City Royals had scored two runs in the ninth inning to tie the Mets and send the game to extras before putting a five-spot on the board in the 12th and then closing things down with ease in the bottom half.
The Kansas City Royals were World Series champions. It came in a season where they won 95 regular-season games and just one year removed from leaving the tying run 90 feet away in Game 7 of the World Series. Two straight pennants and a World Series title? The Royals had cemented themselves as the top power in the American League.
When the Royals started last season 8-2 and then 12-6, it looked like we'd be in for more of the same.
Since then, though, the Royals have completely fallen apart. It was just over a year ago they were sitting number two in the Official Power Rankings. Now they are 30th and I didn't even consider anyone else for the dubious distinction.
The offense has been almost laughably bad. Actually, I don't need the "almost" in there. They have only scored 69 runs. The A's rank 29th in the majors in runs scored at 92. That's an astounding gap through only 25 games played. The Royals have been shut out three times, scored one run six times and two runs four times. That's more than half their games with two or fewer runs. Not surprisingly, they've only won two of those 13 games.
It's not really bad luck or clustering or anything much like that, either. They are just terrible. The Royals rank dead last in the majors in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. They are last in hits, doubles, total bases, walks and, remarkably, they hardly strikeout. So that means they are putting the ball in play very well and still are this bad overall on offense. That's an awful lot of weak contact.
It's not like this is a team with a great pitching staff. They are slightly in the lower half of the league in team ERA. The defense is good but no longer stellar and the former juggernaut of a bullpen is sitting in the bottom five of the league in ERA.
Past all that, the eye test fails this group as well. They look dreadful.
Man, what a difference 18 months can make in his supremely humbling game.
|They need to get the bullpen figured out -- and eventually trade for a stop-gap in center with Adam Eaton hurt -- otherwise this team is outstanding. What an offense.||3||29-50|
|It's safe to say Dallas Keuchel is back to Cy Young form now after six starts with a 1.21 ERA and 0.81 WHIP. Welcome back, Dallas. We missed you.||--||49-27|
|Didi Gregorius is back, Gary Sanchez is coming back soon and the Baby Bombers are morphing into the Bronx Bombers. An awful lot to like here.||6||56-21|
|Three losses in their last five games -- including a series loss to the Yankees -- earns a demotion, but not a steep one.||3||35-43|
|Still not where they need to be, but they had won nine of 12 before these last two losses. The series win over the Astros carries a lot of weight here, as it was only the second series the 'Stros lost all season.||3||39-34|
|The home runs are slowly -- but I think surely -- starting to come and everything else has been pretty good. The AL East race will likely be a strong three-teamer.||--||43-34|
|Julio Urias and Cody Bellinger arrive and the Dodgers have now won five of six. Here they come. Like clockwork, isn't it?||5||48-28|
|The rotation had the best ERA in baseball last season and it's been pretty bad so far. There are also several offensive players underachieving (though Javier Baez did a number on his line Tuesday night by going 4 for 4 with a homer and triple). And yet the Cubs sit atop the NL Central. I'm not worried about the long-term prospects here, either, but they don't belong toward the top at this time.||5||31-46|
|That's now losses in five of seven after rising into the top five. I can take the blame here. Just too much for an upstart to take so early. I'll do better by them the rest of the way.||4||33-44|
|In the middle of August last year, Patrick Corbin was demoted from the rotation after going 4-12 with a 5.49 ERA. Through six starts this year, he has a 2.29 ERA with his walk, hit and home runs rates all significantly lower.||3||35-42|
|The White Sox have won seven of their last nine and lead the majors with a 1.88 bullpen ERA.||3||36-39|
|A pair of four-game losing streaks slowed them in recent weeks, but they've now won three in a row (the last two over the Indians) and just got Miguel Cabrera back.||2||29-46|
|Jose Martinez, a 28-year-old rookie, is hitting .342/.390/.474 and the Cardinals have gone 6-2 in games he's started this season.||2||43-36|
|After a dreadful start, leadoff man Jonathan Villar hit .333 with a .400 OBP from April 20 through May 1. He then went 0 for 4 in the Brewers' 2-1 loss on Tuesday. Unless the Brewers do their home run derby thing, they need their table-setter to get on.||2||45-34|
|Remember when I mentioned earlier in this very space that I thought the Twins could be really streaky this season? They've now won five of six after having lost six of seven. See, sometimes I'm smart. Not often, I know. But still.||5||44-36|
|We've seen teams mess with the run differential Gods to make the playoffs a few times in recent years, such as the 2012 Orioles and 2016 Rangers. Will these Angels join the fray? They are 15-13 despite having been outscored by nine runs so far.||6||37-42|
|Last week, I made a comment about how I didn't expect the Rays to stray much from .500 this year and this week they sit at exactly .500. May their quest for 81-81 stay exactly on track every week!||4||40-36|
|This might be the NL version of the Twins. A 5-9 start was followed by six straight wins and now losses in four of five. It's bound to happen when a decent number of young and/or inexperienced players are involved.||3||41-37|
|What a story: Gift Ngoepe is the first African-born player in MLB history and he's hitting .455/.600/.636 through his first five games.||5||31-46|
|At press time last week, the Marlins were 10-8. Now they are 11-13. That's a good way to tumble down the ranks here.||9||35-40|
|I feel like they are going to get hot at some point, so why not now? The Braves have won five of seven with five games remaining on this homestand.||9||45-33|
|The mishandling of the Yoenis Cespedes and Noah Syndergaard situations is pretty unforgivable. Those are the marquee players of the franchise. Do better, Mets front office.||3||48-29|
|So on Tuesday night, Cole Hamels was hurt right before the game started and the Rangers were forced to go with Alex Claudio as an emergency starter. He threw pretty well under the circumstances and the Rangers had a 5-3 lead entering the eighth inning. Then Keone Kela coughed up a Marwin Gonzalez grand slam and the Rangers lost. This is all the long way of saying that Tuesday felt a bit like a microcosm for how the Rangers' season has gone so far.||5||36-39|
|Every time they get any kind of momentum going this season, it comes crashing down. The good news? The schedule is relatively soft here in the next few weeks, with the Angels, Rangers, Phillies, Blue Jays and A's being the opponents through May 17.||2||37-42|
|So since the 2-11 start, they are 7-7. Progress.||--||44-33|
|Fun with small sample sizes: Trevor Cahill (37 K in 30 IP) has a higher strikeout rate than Max Scherzer, Jake Arrieta, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Greinke, Corey Kluber, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Madison Bumgarner, Yu Darvish and we'll just stop there.||3||46-33|
|I was pretty excited to see if Billy Hamilton's hot finish to last season would carry over into this season at all. He's hitting .214 with a .268 OBP. And I'm sad.||4||26-50|
|Sonny Gray gets through two hitless innings and I'm all excited, thinking "maybe he was just hurt last year and now he's fixed." Then Sonny Gray gives up two home runs in the third inning and another in the fourth. SIGH.||11||26-53|
|If only the 2014 World Series could see us now.||2||40-35|
|I've seen several people mention Lorenzo Cain and Kelvin Herrera to the Nationals as a good June or July trade possibility and it makes a ton of sense for both sides. Just something to watch here several weeks in advance.||2||28-47|