Please read this before telling your friends that George Brett fixed the Royals
The Kansas City Star
Another email came in this morning. Another email from another Royals fan. Another email from another Royals fan making another point about how George Brett has turned around the season.
And why not?
Much like The Ned Game^, Brett’s hiring as hitting coach looks like a line of demarcation in this roller coaster Royals season.
^ Don’t act like you don’t know. May 6, James Shields is pulled with a one-run lead after eight innings. The Royals blow the lead, lose in the 11th, the beginning of a horrendous slide — 19 losses in 23 games, if anyone was counting — that cost hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David their jobs and may still end up costing more men more jobs.
Look: the Royals were 21-29 overall and 4-19 over the previous 3 1/2 weeks before Brett was hired.
And look: they are now 28-32 overall and 7-3 since he was hired.
Brett fixed the team!
His aura and his awesomeness have fixed the Royals, turned them (back?) into something resembling a playoff team!
Except not really. I referenced this in Sunday’s column, but …
Look: the Royals were hitting .261 with a .314 on-base and .375 slugging percentage while averaging 4.0 runs before Brett was hired.
And look: the Royals are hitting .236 with a .303 on-base and .325 slugging percentage while averaging 3.5 runs in 10 games with Brett.
The one major improvement — and this is reaching — is that the Royals have scored four or more runs in six of 10 games with Brett. Before Brett, they scored that many in 19 of 50 games. Four runs seems to be the Royals’ magic number^, so this is a big deal if they can keep it up.
^ They’re 20-5 for an .800 win percentage when scoring four or more. Someone smarter than me can figure out if that’s statistically significant when compared to the rest of the American League, which is 361-131 a .734 win percentage.
Now, let’s be clear on something. I’m not saying Maloof and David shouldn’t have been fired, or that Brett is a bad hitting coach. The Royals had to make a change, and even if I think you have to change the players to make real change, the hitting coaches made sense.
If nothing else, hearing a different voice might be good for the Royals, and let’s face it: they are approaching desperation in the critical mission of getting Moustakas and Hosmer to hit.
All I’m saying is that crediting Brett for these last 10 games is boloney.
I suppose you could make the argument that Brett’s arrival shook things up, ignited the guys, got them playing with a new focus or renewed energy or whatever but that’s an enormous reach unsupported by the numbers.
There is one major stat that’s improved with Brett’s arrival. The Royals had a 3.82 team ERA before he was hired, and an absurd 2.02 team ERA since. Maybe Brett’s awesomeness is rubbing off on the pitchers. Makes as much sense as crediting Billy Butler’s barbecue sauce.