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 But if the Pirates were relegated, they would have been replaced by a minor league team associated with the Royals.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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With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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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.