Dayton Moore's Genius at Work

On Wednesday night the Kansas City Royals earned a 2-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles, finishing off a four game American League Championship Series sweep and taking them to their first World Series since 1985.  The win moved their postseason record up to 8-0.  The playoff run has been a culmination of a long team building process taken on by General Manager Dayton Moore.  Moore was hired as the General Manager of the Royals in May of 2006 and took over full duties in early June of the same month.  In his first two full seasons as GM, the team’s win totals increased to 69 and 75, marking the first time since 2003 the team won more than 70 games.  However, the next two seasons showed a decline with only 65 and 67 wins in each season.  Yet 2011 seemed to be a turning point for the team; they have won more than 70 games in each of the past four seasons, with back to back winning seasons in 2013 and 2014.

Moore’s impact can be seen by evaluating the Royals’ postseason roster. Only two players, Alex Gordon (2005 draft) and Billy Butler (2004 draft), were acquired prior to Moore taking over as GM.  Additionally, just three players on the entire roster were added via traditional free agency: Jason Vargas, Omar Infante, and Jeremy Guthrie.  Vargas, an fly-ball pitcher, was signed prior to this season and was hoping for a return to the days in Seattle where he used the spacious park to post his only two seasons with a sub-4 ERA.  The move to the also very large Kauffman Stadium suited him as he once again found his ERA falling below 4.  Guthrie was signed prior to the 2013 season and has preformed well in his relatively short time in Kansas City, winning over 10 games both seasons.  Infante helped to solidify the order and has preformed extremely well at second base, which was a position of need, in his one season as a Royal.

Moore has made several key trades since taking over as GM, many of which happened in the past few seasons.  At the deadline in 2010, Moore made a deal with his former team, the Atlanta Braves, and sent aging and declining players Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth to Atlanta and in return got Tim Collins, Gregor Blanco, and Jesse Chavez.  Collins has been an important member of a vaunted Royals bullpen and a key reason the team is competing for a World Series title.  In December of 2010, Moore made a another major trade, sending Zach Greinke and others to the Milwaukee Brewers.  The Royals were not going to be able to afford the large payday that was due to Greinke and they wanted to get something in return for their ace.  In return they got starting shortstop Alcides Escobar and ALCS MVP Lorenzo Cain.  Two years later, Moore was on the receiving end of an ace pitcher; he nabbed James Shields and Wade Davis from the Tampa Bay Rays for Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi (acquired in Greinke deal) along with a few others.  Shields has been the ace the Royals expected him to be, winning double digit games and posting an ERA just over 3 in each of his two seasons in Kansas City.  Davis has been the steal of the trade; once he moved to the bullpen full time this season, he became one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball, posting a regular season ERA of 1.00 and winning two games this postseason while appearing in seven of the team’s eight games.  Prior to this season, Moore once again made a key deal, trading reliever Will Davis to Milwaukee and getting Norichika Aoki in return.  Aoki has played every game this postseason in right field while providing a slightly above average bat (104 wRC+) and playing above average defense with a UZR of 5.9 this season.  Moore also made a few depth moves this season by trading for Josh Willingham, Jason Frasor, and Erik Kratz.

Where Moore has really made his killing is in the amateur market.  Moore’s baseball career began as a scout and his scouting ability is evidenced in his drafting and signing of amateurs.  Of the 25 players on the roster for the ALCS, just under half of them (11) were ether amateur free agents or Moore draftees.  Starting catcher Salvador Perez, SP Yordano Ventura, and RP Kelvin Herrera were all signed out of the international pool of players and without these three the Royals would not be playing for a World Series title.  Ventura will likely start game two of the series, and Perez appeared in 150 games this year, catching 146 of them.  Herrera has been the seventh inning guy tfor he Royals and was dominant this regular season. He has carried that over to the postseason with a 1.35 ERA in 6 appearances.  The remainder of the roster was all drafted by Moore.  Eric Hosmer (2008) and Mike Moustakas (2007) have been postseason stars; both hit key home runs in extra innings to win games for the Royals.  Greg Holland (2007), the third bullpen monster, has saved five of the eight wins and appeared in seven postseason games.  Danny Duffy (2007), who started most of this season, has not had a major effect on the playoffs, but without him the Royals never would have gotten this far.  Role players off the bench like Terrance Gore (2011) and Jarrod Dyson (2006) have served as pinch runners and have stolen four bases and scored three runs combined in that role.  Christian Colon (2010), a former first round pick, has been used rarely this postseason but did drive in the trying run in the Wild Card game and eventually scored the winning run.  The final member of the roster is Brand0n Finnegan, this season’s first-rounder, who went from pitching in the College World Series to earning a win in this postseason.

All in all, Moore has built a potential World Series Champion in a very unconventional way, using the draft and trades while shying away from free agency.  While it has been seen before – the Rays are one team who comes to mind – the moves that Moore has made in the past have all come together at the right time, creating a postseason powerhouse.  Although he is not often mentioned among the best GMs in all of baseball, the success of this team means he deserves to be recognized as one of the best and possibly deserving of GM of the Year.

 

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