BettorIQ’s MLB Betting Preview: Kansas City Royals
BettorIQ continues with its 2020 MLB betting previews. Throughout the spring, we will be breaking down all 30 teams from a betting perspective.
Kansas City Royals
2019 Record: 59-103
2019 Profits: -22.0 units
2020 Win Total: 64.5 (based on a 162-game season)
2020 Odds to Win AL Central: +6000
2020 Odds to Win AL Pennant: +15000
2020 Odds to Win World Series: +40000
Betting Positives: A year removed from 59 wins and -22 units of profit, the Kansas City Royals certainly won’t be on the radar of many bettors. And after bottoming out the last two seasons, the organization decided to part ways with Ned Yost and bring in former Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, who appears to be committed to a more modern and data driven approach. “I love the direction the game is going,” Matheny says. “The more information we can get, the more we can surround ourselves with smart people who have the desire to change and impact and improve—it’s just going to make the overall product that much better.” This philosophy will only help for a small market organization with a young roster and little margin for error. His lineup doesn’t feature any stars but instead a number of respectable everyday players (Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi, Jorge Soler, Nicky Lopez, and Hunter Dozier) at or near their prime. Up-and-coming middle infielders, Modesi and Lopez, helped the Royals finish 6th in FanGraphs’ all-encompassing defensive metric last season. And while the Royals aren’t necessarily poised to “win now”, there aren’t many surefire trade targets meaning they fit the profile of an under-the-radar squad that could make noise in a shortened season format.
Betting Negatives: Matheny speaks a good game but in order for the Royals to overachieve, he’ll need to ditch the label of being one of MLB’s weakest tacticians. Note that Matheny was fired 93 games (47-46) into the 2018 season. Mike Shildt stepped in and the Cards went 41-28 the rest of the way and last year won the National League Central. And unlike his time in St. Louis, he won’t have much in the way of talent and veteran leadership to mask his deficiencies. His biggest hurdle will be attempting to juggle a weak pitching staff. Catcher Salvador Perez doesn’t offer much in the way of help. He missed all of last season due to injury, leaving his paltry defensive numbers in 2017 and 2018 unlikely to improve. Perez finished 103rd and 111th in framing runs in his last two seasons, per Baseball Prospectus. Kansas City’s starting staff is projected to finish 28th in WAR, with no starter pegged to have an ERA below 4.63, per FanGraphs. The likelihood of an expanded roster will not do favors for Kansas City this season either, as depth is already limited on a traditional 25-man roster.
Handicapper’s Take: The Royals were on average a +150 underdog the last two seasons and still managed to lose -45 units. And with the Twins, Indians, and White Sox all projected to finish above .500, winning at a .400 clip won’t be easy. The lineup however is inching towards adequacy and coupled with a sub-par pitching staff, it should yield another season of OVER profits. Last season, the Royals went 42-32-6 O/U at Kauffman Stadium which continues to shade more towards a hitter’s park. With no early season cold weather, that trend expects to continue.