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A Royal Mess
2005-08-19 20:11
by Mike Carminati

The Kansas City Royals, losers of 18 straight, start a series tonight with the once-red hot A's in Oakland, a team that swept them by a collective score of 32-5 in three games in midst of their current streak. Should the Royals again be swept by the A's, they would tie the AL record for consecutive losses (21 games) by the 1988 Orioles. The O's did it at the start of the season, jettisoning one manager (Cal Ripken Sr.) six games into the streak.

After the A's, the Royals play hosts to the Red Sox for three games, at the end of which, should all things go right (or rather wrong), KC could tie the all-time consecutive game losing streak, 24 games by the legendarily bad Cleveland Spiders. Now, that would be a hard record to break, but I think the Royals have it in them.

The Royals did seem to turn their season around right before the All-Star game. After their first manager, Tony Pena, quit with an 8-25 record, and their second, interim Bob Schaefer (5-12), had no more luck than Pena, the team sat at the horrific record of 13-37 on May 29. Buddy Bell was named manager, and then the Royals won four straight and eleven of fifteen, sweeping both the Dodgers and Yankees, a truly singular feat, in that span.

However, their success was fleeting. Since then, the Royals are 14-40 (a .259 winning percentage). Even without their current streak that's 14-22 (.389). Bell is 25-44 as their manager after starting 11-4.

The Royals over the last two years are 96-185 (.342), the 60th worst two-year record in baseball history and the seventh worst since World War II:

TmYr1Yr22-yr W2-yr LPCT
New York Mets1962196391231.283
Pittsburgh Pirates1952195392216.299
Detroit Tigers2002200398225.303
New York Mets19641965103221.318
New York Mets19631964104220.321
Pittsburgh Pirates19531954103205.334
Kansas City Royals2004200596185.342

Add in a 62-100 (.383) record in 2002, and it gets even worse. The oddest thing about the Royals in the 2000s is their brief success in 2003. They finished 83-79 that year and were in the pennant race for a substantial part of the season. Here's a look at their record over the last four years (with a projection for 2005):

2002-05 Proj255393.393

The Royals are potentially one of four teams in baseball history to have one winning year sandwiched among three years with am abysmal winning percentage under .400, and they would be the first to do it without a little help. It's sort of the Brady Anderson's 50-homer year for baseball teams. They come out of nowhere and quickly disappear:

TmLgYr1Yr44yr W4yr LPCT
Baltimore OriolesAA18821885151233.393
Baltimore OriolesAA18831886180262.407
Louisville ColonelsAA18881891218326.401
St. Louis CardinalsNL19161919247324.433
Kansas City RoyalsAL20022005241364.433
Kansas City RoyalsAL20022005-proj255393.433

The 1884 O's went 63-43 (.594) in a rare year with three major leagues (NL, AA, and Union Association. That year came after two under .300—19-54 (.260) in the first year, 1882, and 26-68 (.292) in 1883—but before two sub-.400 years—41-68 (.376) and 48-83 (.366). they qualify for the list twice.

The Louisville Colonels were 88-44 (.667) and in first place in the American Association in another year in which there were three major leagues (1890). Their previous years were 48-87 (.356) and 27-111 (.196—meaning that they had almost a 500-point one-year turnaround) and then they followed up with 55-84 (.667)

The Cardinals went 82-70 (.539) in the midst of World War I after going 60-93 (.392). Then they followed the one winning season up with a 51-78 (.395) and a 54-83 (.394) year.

The Royals would be the first team to complete these dubious feat without dilusion induced by a third major league or a war in their one winning season. That's wacky.

And for final bit of wackiness, the Royals are now one of eleven teams in the last 106 years to have two managers with substantial stints (at least ten games) with a winning percentage under .350. Here are the Royals managerial records this season:

2005 MgrWLPCT
Tony Pena825.242
Bob Schaefer512.294
Buddy Bell2544.362

Now, here are teams with two sub-.350 managers in one season since 1899:

Kansas City Royals2005Tony Pena1825.242Bob Schaefer2512.294
Atlanta Braves1988Chuck Tanner11227.308Russ Nixon24279.347
New York Mets1965Casey Stengel13164.326Wes Westrum21948.284
Detroit Tigers1952Red Rolfe12349.319Fred Hutchinson22755.329
Philadelphia Phillies1945Freddie Fitzsimmons11851.261Ben Chapman22857.329
St. Louis Browns1937Rogers Hornsby12552.325Jim Bottomley22156.273
Boston Red Sox1932Shano Collins11144.200Marty McManus23267.323
Pittsburgh Pirates1917Nixey Callahan12040.333Hugo Bezdek33059.337
Boston Doves1909Frank Bowerman12254.289Harry Smith22354.299
Washington Senators1904Malachi Kittridge1116.059Patsy Donovan23797.276
Cleveland Spiders1899Lave Cross1830.211Joe Quinn212104.103

You might notice that Bell projects to an under .350 record given the current Royal projections. That would mean that the Royals would be only the eighth team all-time with three sub-.350 managers. Here they are:

Kansas City Royals2005Tony Pena1825.242Bob Schaefer2512.294Buddy Bell-proj.33973.346
Chicago Cubs1961Harry Craft248.333Vedie Himsl3512.294El Tappe9511.313
Washington Senators1898Tom Brown11226.316Deacon McGuire32147.309Arthur Irwin41019.345
St. Louis Browns1897Hugh Nicol2832.200Bill Hallman31336.265Chris Vonderahe4212.143
St. Louis Browns1897Tommy Dowd1622.214Bill Hallman31336.265Chris Vonderahe4212.143
St. Louis Browns1897Tommy Dowd1622.214Hugh Nicol2832.200Bill Hallman31336.265
St. Louis Browns1897Tommy Dowd1622.214Hugh Nicol2832.200Chris Vonderahe4212.143
St. Louis Browns1895Al Buckenberger11634.320Joe Quinn31128.282Lew Phelan41130.268
Buffalo Bisons1890Jack Rowe12258.275Jay Faatz2924.273Jack Rowe3514.263
Louisville Colonels1889Dude Esterbrook128.200Jimmy Wolf21451.215Dan Shannon31046.179
Pittsburgh Alleghenys1884Denny McKnight148.333Bob Ferguson21131.262Horace Phillips5924.273

If you consider that the Cubs employed a rotating head coach system in 1961, that would mean that the Royals would be the first team in 107 seasons to reach such a mark of managerial futility. The Cubs had nine different managerial stints that year, so none of those guys had a record under .350 if you combine their disparate stints. Witness:

TmYrHead Coah 1#WLPCTHead Coah 2#WLPCTHead Coah 3#WLPCT
Chicago Cubs1961Harry Craft248.333Vedie Himsl3512.294El Tappe9511.313
Season Overall2 stints79.4383 stints1021.3233 stints4254.438

OK, so did I mention that the Royals kind of suck?

2005-08-20 06:59:18
1.   graciebarn
No, you didn't. But it was implied to some degree.

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