The Royals are the best bad team in baseball

The fall from the penthouse to the outhouse didn’t take all that long for the Kansas City Royals. After winning the World Series in 2015, the Royals lost more than 100 games three years later, a feat they may duplicate yet again this year.

But don’t lose heart, Royals fans. This year’s team was called “the best bad team in baseball” by Kansas City sports radio talk show host Kevin Kietzman last month.

The gist of his positive thinking is that although the Royals are going nowhere fast this year, their play on the field is better than what is reflected by their win/loss record.

He has a point.

If the Royals were allowed to just run around the bases, they’d win the race with other teams hands down. Billy Hamilton, Terence Gore, Whit Merrifield, and Adalberto Mondesi form a formidable quartet capable of winning any baseball relay.

Unfortunately, Hamilton doesn’t reach base often enough, and Gore isn’t in the lineup much. Still, the Royals are among the league leaders in stolen bases, infield hits and triples.

The Royals are also among the league leaders in caught stealing, but you can’t have it both ways. Suffice it to say, they can be a fun team to watch.

Defensively the Royals were among the best in baseball during the first two months of the season.

Alex Gordon is playing better offensively than he has in years and is still very good on defense.

Merrifield may never be a star, but he’s an above-average versatile player who hits for average with occasional pop and can play infield or outfield on defense.

Hunter Dozier has been an outstanding hitter the first two months of the season. Whether he can continue to play at that pace will be interesting. An injury recently slowed him down.

The future star is likely Mondesi. He strikes out a little too much, but he is a legitimate threat whenever he hits the ball. In one game he outran what would have been a routine groundout to the shortstop for most players into an infield single. He practically flies with long graceful strides. After two months, he was among the American League leaders in at least four hitting categories.

The Royals are playing this season without their All-Star catcher Salvador Perez, who is injured. The loss is most notable when the Royals are on offense. Martin Maldonado is an excellent catcher defensively, but he isn’t nearly the threat offensively.

The Royals finally brought up one of their top prospects, Nicky Lopez. The second-baseman appears more than capable defensively. The question remains how he will hit. The good news is that he’s hit well at every level, albeit without a lot of power. He’s one of those increasingly rare players who doesn’t strike out much, and puts the ball in play, although he’s struck out more than he’s used to since being called up.

You’ve probably noticed I’ve neglected an important part of what’s wrong with the Royals. Yes, their hitting may be inconsistent, but their pitching is definitely sub-par. Last time I checked, they were near the bottom in pitching. Ouch.

The Royals played well but lost a lot of games the first two months of the season. At least they had a chance to win a lot of those games. But in late May and early June, there was a troubling trend in which they aren’t very competitive.

When you’re virtually out of the pennant race by Memorial Day, that’s not a good thing.

So while KC may have been the best bad team in baseball the first six-to-eight weeks of the season, now they’re closer to just being bad.

Given a choice, wouldn’t you prefer being the worst good team in baseball?

Here’s hoping the Royals will figure it out again, get some good players through the draft, and return to being relevant in the not-too-distant future.