08 February 2007

Royal legacy #35 -- the 2002 Royals (62-100)

Boy, what a great decade the double-aughts have been for the boys in blue. The fourth-worst Royals season by Pipeline standards is the fourth of the last six Royals seasons, but at least this is the last 100-loss season to get through. 2002 was harsh as it signalled what many Royals fans probably thought was rock-bottom for the franchise: a 62-100 record for a franchise-worst (again, to that point) .383 winning percentage; the dispatching of 4 1/2-season manager Tony Muser for interim John Mizerock and, later, Tony Pena; a 5.21 staff ERA that was truly the team's downfall; and a .398 team slugging percentage that was good for 12th in the AL.

On the other hand you had Mike Sweeney hitting like a bargain at $8 mill a
year with a line of .340/.417/.563 with 24 HR, but again in only 126 games. You had Carlos Beltran slug over .500 and drive home more than 100 runs. And in between you had DH/OF Raul Ibanez with a breakout season in which he also slugged over .500 while hitting .294 and driving home more than 100 runs. Unfortunately, after 3B Joe Randa's .282 BA, there was not much else to crow about on offense. On the mound about the only bright light was SP Paul Byrd posting a 3.90 ERA in 200-plus innings for only $850,000. Other than sub-4 ERAs from RPs Jason Grimsley and Scott Mullen, however, it got ugly, more for the starting rotation than an OK bullpen. Only fatty Runelvys Hernandez started and posted a sub-5 ERA and his was in only 74 1/3 IP.

Yes, I can recall the lamenting of KC sports radio on the franchise's first 100-loss season. Like I said
, many probably thought that was the bottom of the barrel. But no, Royals fans have found since 2002 that the barrel can go deeper than that. 2002 was also the year of the Zach Greinke draft. Only three draft picks from that year have reached the majors for KC, and two aren't with the franchise anymore. The other (Greinke) is a head case who missed half of the '06 season for "personal issues." Needless to say, the Royals bade farewell to 2002 and set the stage for the franchise's "comeback" season in '03 that both ended badly and failed to generate any momentum for the following seasons. Good times all around in KC. Nothing like a little nostalgia for '02 and the days of A.J. Hinch, Carlos Febles, Jeff Suppan and Roberto Hernandez.

2002 Pipeline Royals MVP -- Mike Sweeney. Man, he could rake at one point. I think I hurt his back just typing that.

2002 Pipeline Royals LVP -- Jeff Suppan, I guess. 16 losses and a 5.32 ERA all for $4.15 million? Where was this crap for the Cards?

Here's the '02 Royals.

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