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Friday, April 23, 2021

Yes, the Royals Can Win the AL Central

Having a one-in-five chance to make the playoffs and an 8% change to win the division still leaves the Royals an underdog, but that’s a big jump from the final preseason projections, which had them at 6% and 2%, respectively. The games already in the hopper only represent about 10% of the season, but it’s 10% of the season in which the Royals have a small lead on the White Sox and a healthy margin over the Twins. The rest of the season can still be classified as a marathon, but starting a bit ahead of your competitors sure is nice.

It’s also more than just their existing lead that makes ZiPS more positive about the Royals than it was at the start of the season. Taking the schedule out of the equation for the moment, under current roster assumptions, ZiPS sees the Royals as a .495 team, compared to .475 before the season, a difference of 20 points of winning percentage. That’s the largest change for any team in the majors:

The difference is largely due to the pitching. With the offense, the sunnier ZiPS outlooks for Perez, Jarrod Dyson, Santana, and Michael A. Taylor are largely canceled out by grumpier estimations for Benintendi, Hunter Dozier, and Jorge Soler. But on the pitching side, ZiPS only really frets over Greg Holland, who has been awful so far. While the projection system only sees a 0.08 improvement in projected ERA for Danny Duffy, the more robust season-to-season model sees nearly quarter-run improvement already thanks to his bump in velocity and some of the best contact data of his career. It’s just three starts, but Duffy finding his 2016-17 form again was one of the elements that could make for a surprising Royals season.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: April 23, 2021 at 09:21 AM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: believe, royals

 

 

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