Baseball is a team sport. Blaming one player typically is short-sighted. In 2016, there’s been plenty of blame to go around for the Kansas City Royals. The offense is among the worst in baseball. The starting rotation has been mediocre to awful much of the season. The Royals just have not been good enough in clutch situations.
BUT, no player has hurt his team more than Joakim Soria. Yes, Alex Gordon has been terrible in the first year of a big contract extension. And, yes, Chris Young and Kris Medlen have done virtually nothing. But Soria has been atrocious.
After another meltdown on Sunday in yet another crushing loss, Soria has given up the go-head run 13 times this season. THIRTEEN. The “Mexicutioner” has been just that to his team, allowing the go-ahead run in more than 20 percent of his 60 appearances.
Of those 13 games, the Royals have lost 11. ELEVEN. If they win five of those games, Kansas City would be tied for the second wild-card and contending with Cleveland in the Central.
General Manager Dayton Moore has done a wonderful job in Kansas City. He’s taken a perennial loser to a world championship and perennial contention. But to say his offseason, including signing Soria, Gordon and Young, has been awful would be an understatement.
The Royals are not going to cut Soria loose. He’s still owed nearly $20 million and signed through 2018. My guess is Moore brings in another reliever next season (Greg Holland, please) as insurance for Soria and releases him early in 2018 if his performance holds steady, as I expect (Soria’s been average to bad for a while now).
A quick breakdown of Soria’s one-man assault on Kansas City’s season:
April 8: Royals 4, Twins 3 | 1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER | 1-0
After entering the game in the eighth, Soria serves up a one-out homer to Byung Ho Park. The Royals rally in the bottom of the inning on Salvador’s Perez RBI triple and Omar Infante’s sacrifice fly.
APRIL 17: Athletics 3, Royals 2 | 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER | 1-1
Soria enters a tie game in the eighth, giving up a leadoff triple to Billy Burns and a sacrifice fly to Josh Reddick.
MAY 10: Yankees 10, Royals 7 | 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER | 1-2
Moments after Lorenzo Cain’s third homer of the game pulls Kansas City even, Soria falls apart after Ben Gamel reaches on an error by Alcides Escobar. Brett Gardner follows with a go-ahead double, Starlin Castro is hit by a pitch, and Brian McCann rips a two-run double.
JUNE 2: Indians 5, Royals 4 | 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2 R | 1-3
The Royals take a 4-3 lead to the ninth, but Carlos Santana singles to start the inning, scores on Francisco Lindor’s one-out triple, and Mike Napoli wins it with a sac fly.
JUNE 22: Mets 4, Royals 3 | 1 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 R | 1-4
In a 3-3 game in the sixth, Soria coughs up a home run to some guy named Matt Reynolds. Not Mark Reynolds. Matt Reynolds.
JUNE 29: Royals 3, Cardinals 2 | 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R | 2-4
After the pitching staff shut down St. Louis for nine innings, Soria surrenders a leadoff homer to Stephen Piscotty to tie it in the 10th. The Royals eventually win 3-2 in 12.
JULY 15: Tigers 4, Royals 2 | 2/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R | 2-5
The only game on this list in which Soria wasn’t charged for the deciding run. After Luke Hochevar gives up a homer to tie the score at 2 and the next two baserunners reach, Soria walks Cameron Maybin and somehow strikes out Miguel Cabrera. But he fails to glove a comebacker by Victor Martinez, allowing two runs to score.
JULY 17: Tigers 4, Royals 2 | 0 IP, 2 H, 2 R | 2-6
In a 2-2 game in the ninth, Soria gives up a leadoff single to Tyler Collins and a long home run to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
AUG. 5: Rays 3, Royals 2 | 1 IP, 3 H, 3 R | 2-7
Soria blows a 2-0 lead quickly in the eighth, as Logan Forsythe singles and Kevin Kiermaier walks. One out later, Brad Miller launches a three-run homer.
AUG. 30: Yankees 5, Royals 4 | 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R | 2-8
Tied 4-4 in the 10th, Soria gives up back-to-back singles to McCann and Chase Headley before recording consecutive strikeouts. Despite getting ahead 0-2, he walks Gardner, then falls down on a grounder back to the mound, allowing the winning run to score.
SEPT. 3: Tigers 6, Royals 5 | 1 IP, 4 H, 2 R | 2-9
Kansas City leads 5-4 in the eighth when Cabrera singles to start the inning and scores on a home run by Justin Upton with two outs.
Not exactly pretty. Four times in these 11 games, the Royals have led when Soria entered. They’ve lost each of those. Win those games, and they’re tied with Baltimore for the final playoff spot.
SEPT. 7: Twins 6, Royals 5 | 2/3 IP, 2 H, 2R | 2-10
Kansas City leads 4-3 in the seventh when Soria gives up a leadoff single to Brian Dozier, who steals second with one out. Miguel Sano doubles to tie the game, and Eduardo Escobar singles off Matt Strahm with two outs for the go-ahead run, which is charged to Soria.
SEPT. 13: Athletics 5, Royals 4 | 1/3 IP, 2 H, 1 R | 2-11
The Royals lead 3-2 in the eighth when, for some reason, Yost summons Soria with runners on first and second and two outs. Because that’s what garbage do, Soria coughs up a two-run double to Yonder Alonso and an RBI single to Marcus Simien.