Fire Dayton Moore

Fire Dayton Moore
It's time.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Braves Way

In the last couple years my go-to Dayton Moore joke has been, if a player on his way out of baseball wants to extend his career, sign a one-day contract with the Atlanta Braves. Then after it expires, show Moore he was once employed by the Braves and Moore will be powerless to resist signing him.

Bruce Chen, Kyle Davies, Jeff Francoeur, Melky Cabrera and whoever else I've forgotten that Moore has imported from Atlanta, are proof that Moore hasn't forgotten his roots coming up through the ranks with the Braves. So when the Royals played the Braves this week, I got the idea of comparing the Braves dynasty that Moore was a part of to Moore's Royals — at least in one aspect.

I thought to myself, "Gee, the Royals don't seem to have much pop and they sure don't seem to walk all that often, either." OK, my inner thoughts aren't actually that eloquent. But it got me to wondering how the Royals under Moore's direction compare offensively to the Braves during Moore's time with the organization.

Now, I fully understand Moore himself can only do so much when it comes to affecting the performance of the players on the field. With the Braves, it was even more limited. At the same time, Moore was a scout, director of player personel and Assistant GM with the Braves and therefore had a voice in the players the Braves sought to fit their philosophy.

The result was 11 division championships, three World Series appearances and a World Series title between joining the organization in 1994 and leaving in 2006. So I hopped over to Fangraphs and filtered the team stats from 1995-2005 because those were the years Moore spent entire seasons with the organization.

The results: 2,064 home runs (9), 9.0 percent walk rate (12), 16.7 percent strikeout rate (17), .267 batting average (13), .338 on-base percentage (12), .432 slugging percentage (8), and .335 weighted on-base average (10). In parenthesis are the Braves' rank in all of baseball in those categories during that span.

Now, from 2007 to this point in the 2013 season, here's how the Royals compare: 753 home runs (29), 7.0 percent walk rate (30), 16.5 percent strikeout rate (28), .267 batting average (7), .323 on-base percentage (22), .400 slugging percentage (21), and .317 weighted on-base average (22). Again, the parenthesis signify the club's rank in all of baseball.

Looking at that, it's as if Moore came to Kansas City straight out of the early 1900s. Swing away, get on base with a seeing-eye single and hope to bunt and steal your way around the bases. It's not hard to see why the Royals have yet to compete with Moore as GM. Although hitting for power and finding ways to get on base were clearly part of the Braves' formula for winning, Moore's Royals have solely excelled in hitting for average.

Yes I realize the David Glass Royals haven't had the same funds that the Ted Turner Braves once worked with. But anyone with a vague understanding of "Moneyball" knows players with a knack for getting on base and platoon power hitters are available at reasonable prices if you know where to find them.

Even if you isolate the Royals' ranks in those statistics to this season, it's not pretty: 6 home runs (29), 5.8 percent walk rate (29), 16.3 percent strikeout rate (29), .267 batting average (5), .314 on-base percentage (18), .381 slugging percentage (20), and .304 weighted on-base average (20).

Again, their strength lies only in getting on base by way of hits. But as I write this, roughly a handful of individual players have as many or more home runs this season than the Royals do as a team. Justin Upton, who the Royals theoretically could have landed for a package even less lucrative than the one that brought in James Shields, has already launched nine long balls.

These are the reasons I have no faith in this year's club sustaining its success. Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and a surging Lorenzo Cain can't be the only Royals contributing in both on-base and slugging. After last season, Kevin Seitzer was the scapegoat for the Royals' lack of power. Who will the blame fall on when these numbers extrapolate over the course of a season?

As far as I'm concerned, Moore may not be the one scouting amateur talent, developing that talent in the minor leagues or even coaching that talent at the Major League level. But he is the one deciding which amateur players to bring into the organization. He is the one deciding which ones to move along through the system and which ones he doesn't have to "cross off the board" in trade negotiations. And he is the one signing players at the Major League level to free agent deals and extensions and hand-picking coaches to instruct them.

I don't think anyone in Kansas City is expecting Moore to build a dynasty to last 15 seasons. But if the Royals truly are entering a so-called "window" for winning, it's going to take more than a change at hitting coach. A 3-2 start to a daunting road trip is indeed encouraging, but if some trends don't begin to reverse soon, it might be time to find realistic alternatives in right field and at third base. And that's on Moore.

If only there were a player waiting in the wings at Triple-A with experience at both positions.

Fire Dayton Moore

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