Great post by Ron Hostetter on the Royals where he points to The Stat Guy columns in the KC Star. As noted in the column the Royals defense has been poor as evidenced by their Defensive Efficiency Rating (DER) (the percentage of balls put in play that were turned into outs) and Zone Rating (percentage of balls hit into certain zones that made into outs). To pile it on it should be noted that they're also third from the bottom in giving up unearned runs with 50 (half as many as the Devil Rays - the team being compared to the Royals in the Stat Guy column) behind only Arizona (51) and Boston (60) and have committed 65 errors. This was brought to my attention vividly yesterday while scoring the game as they gave up 4 unearned runs with three errors.
As of today the runs scored and runs allowed looks as follows:
RS RA ER
Royals 328 418 368
Rays 344 365 340
This gives the Royals a pythagorean winning pct. of .381 and the Rays .470 when in actuality the Rays are at .507 and the Royals at .387. So the Devil Rays have also gotten more out of less than the Royals have. All other things being equal (which they're not since luck plays a role) it seems that team speed is the X-factor in this case allowing a team to take better advantage of misplays and errors that squeek out a game every now and then, something the Royals are definitely lacking but that the Rays have. However, even taking into account only earned runs the Royals still have a deficit of 44 runs with the Rays (16 on offense and 28 on defense) which makes a bigger difference than you might think since winning percentage varies with the square of runs scored per the pythagorean formula. So while I agree that the Royals defense is bad (particularly in the outfield corners and the right side of the infield) the hitting and pitching have been equally as bad ranking near the bottom in most categories and just as a good team is more than the sum of its parts (e.g. the 1998 Yankees), a team that is bad in all aspects is less.