Relegate the Royals?

One way or another.

Borrowing from an excellent thinkpiece by Dave Gershman over at Beyond the Boxscore, I thought it might be fun to imagine a more European approach to the Major League Baseball. In the Premiership, and various other soccer leagues around the world, the bottom teams are relegated to the minor leagues, while the best minor leagues teams ascend to the majors. Gives the bottom of the ‘table,’ or standings, a little juice at the end of the season.

Of course, that would create all sorts of problems with baseball, where the minor league teams are all assigned to major league teams. That sort of relationship would be hard to navigate. For example, Gershman starts by wondering if the Pirates deserve Anthony Rendon – and if they deserve to be in the major leagues at all by extension. But if the Pirates were relegated, they would have been replaced by a minor league team associated with the Royals. Then we’d we be stuck with twice the amount of Royals-based teams in the major leagues – however you feel about the Royals, you probably don’t want that.

That’s right, the Northwest Arkansas Naturals not only won the Baseball America minor league team of the year, but they were stacked with future major league talent. Mike Moustakas (#23 on Keith Law’s top 100) and Eric Hosmer (#5) anchored the lineup, while Mike Montgomery (#28), John Lamb (#41) and Danny Duffy (#98) provided the arms. It was a pretty sweet minor league team, and if any deserved to ascend it would have been the Naturals and their minor-league-leading .629 winning percentage.

And, lo and behold, the Naturals are attached to one of the worst teams in baseball. Let’s pretend that the Royals were the worst team in baseball instead of the fifth-worst, and acknowledge that their Double-A team was the best in minor league baseball. We’d have a ‘natural’ case for relegation, wouldn’t we?

Take a look at the minor league equivalencies for the Double-A Northwestern Arkansas Naturals, courtesy Dan Szymborski at BTF. They’d probably lose a ton of games, but maybe they’d push the other bad teams to play a little harder late in the season? Most of these guys will make the Royals soon, so the ‘relegation’ will happen one way or the other. Still, we can all admit that it would be funny to just replace the major league team with this one en masse.

2B Johnny Giavotella (.262/.319/.353) 5 HR, 10 SB^; 93 wRC+
1B Eric Hosmer (.265/.307/.450) 21 HR, 6 SB; 101 wRC+
DH Clint Robinson (.253/.310/.416) 18 HR, 4 SB, 98 wRC+
3B Mike Moustakas (.276/.328/.485) 26 HR, 0 SB; 109 wRC+
OF Paulo Orlando (.248/.296/.353) 10 HR, 15 SB, 89 wRC+
OF Derrick Robinson (.236/.282/.301) 1 HR, 41 SB, 81 wRC+
OF Tim Smith (.252/.302/.343) 9 HR, 20 SB, 89 wRC+
SS Anthony Seratelli (.202/.276/.256) 4 HR, 18 SB, 76 wRC+
C Wil Myers* (.229/.317/.353) 11 HR, 13 SB; 93 wRC+

SP Mike Montgomery 5.50 ERA, 5.33 K/9, 5.50 BB/9
SP John Lamb 5.46 ERA, 5.17 K/9, 4.6 BB/9
SP Danny Duffy 4.62 ERA, 6.81 K/9, 2.68 BB/9
SP Aaron Crow 7.10 ERA, 4.95 K/9, 6.28 BB/9

RP Everett Teaford** 5.08 ERA, 7.17 K/9, 4.28 BB/9
RP Blake Johnson** 5.00 ERA, 3.93 K/9, 3.57 BB/9

^All HR/SB numbers are per 650 PAs.
*Due to fictitious late-season call-up, on roster just in time for ascension.
**Numbers accrued in starting role for most part, could look better in short stints.

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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

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5 years 8 months ago

Don’t forget that if we’re really doing this right, the Naturals would have to be promoted to AAA first.

Personally I wish we had a situation in which this was possible. If rather than using minor league teams as a farm system, MLB teams had dedicated reserve teams and youth teams (the reserve Mets rather than Buffalo, for example) and the minor leagues were independent, it would work. This will never happen, but I’d find it a lot more interesting.

5 years 7 months ago

I think instead of relegating, maybe change owners. I guarantee that the reason the Pirates have 2 decades of losing seasons is because they want to. As the saying goes, the sun shines even on a dogs ass once in a while. You’d think that they would get lucky with a bunch of young guys at least once. What’s happening is the ownership used the city to pay for 110% of the stadium (convinced the city to pay extra for “infastructure”), they collect shared rev and operate at an insanely low cost. If you were to tell Mr. Nutjob that if the Pirates don’t produce a winning season within 4 years, I would bet my car that they would have a winning season.

The Royals are headed in the right direction, and it seems the real point of this piece isn’t relegation but how good the Royals farm system is. Still, I think teams should be punished for not producing. Not like 5 straight losing seasons or no playoff berths, but ridiculous stuff like 20 straight losing seasons. The Pirates should be like the Cardinals or Dodgers or Giants or other historic teams. they aren’t, because ownership has totally killed it to the point that “Pirates” is synonymous with losing. It’s sad, and what’s more sad is that the Nutting or Nutter or whatever his name is make a profit off of it.