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To Build a Consistent Winner, Royals Look to Rays and Guardians

The manager, Matt Quatraro, has coached in the playoffs in six of the last seven seasons, all with low-payroll teams. Quatraro was an assistant hitting coach for Cleveland and a third-base coach and bench coach for Tampa Bay. The pitching coach, Brian Sweeney, spent the last five seasons on Cleveland’s staff.

Tampa Bay has never won a championship, and Cleveland has not won one since 1948. But those teams are perennial contenders, relevant no matter how much they spend. The Royals, in the same group of low payroll teams, want to be the same way, and Quatraro can help figure out how.

“The margin of error for winning and losing is razor thin,” he said. “I mean, the Royals lost 97 games last year, but I guarantee you they were not losing, 8-0, in the second inning every night. How do you swing those games that you have a chance in the fifth, sixth, seventh inning in your favor?”

Quatraro, a former minor league catcher, listed the obvious ways: better pitching, defense and base running. What he added next said everything about the Royals’ new aspirations.

“It’s also making the quote, unquote, ‘right decision,’ by objective measures, and then you keep compounding those decisions,” he said. “So just because it doesn’t work tonight, if you trust in why you’re making it, you keep doing it, and it’s going to work out in the long run, right?”

Well, usually. The Rays, infamously, were burned by that theory in the final game of the 2020 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. They stuck to their strategy of removing a starting pitcher after two turns through the batting order, even during a shutout. Out went Blake Snell, in came the bullpen, and there went the season.

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