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Preview: ROYALS OP-ED PAGE - Kansas City Royals Notes, News, Opinions and the Occasional Rant

ROYALS OP-ED PAGE - Kansas City Royals Notes, News, Opinions and the Occasional Rant

One fan's opinions on Kansas City Royals baseball, a team I have followed since 1971 and whatever else pops to mind on the rare occansion that something actually does. OUR DAILY RANT HAS MOVED TO ROYALS AUTHORITY, check here for weekend updates on all thi

Updated: 2015-09-16T08:49:05.986-07:00


Closing It Out


I have come to the realization that the Op-Ed Page needs to be retired due to neglect. As such, I want to thank everyone who visited this site during the year and helped it become popular and led to my joining the MostValueableNetwork. Barring a change in circumstances, I will no longer be posting at this site on anything but an extremely sporadic basis, if at all.

Please be sure to catch me at the following TWO sites:

ROYALS AUTHORITY - For all my Royals opinions and analysis, plus those of Craig Brown of Warning Track Power. We alternate weekdays and seldom go a day without posting. Also, great links to other Royal sites from there, too. Hey, we both managed to post through an 106 loss season, imagine what we will do if KC becomes a contender!

BIG RED ANALYSIS - No, not a Nebraska football site, but one devoted to Nebraska Cornhusker basketball. Yes, I know a Royals fan AND a Husker basketball fan, yet I still manage to get up every morning. A new site that will dissect Nebraska basketball and college ball in general.

For those of you following my series on the Royals, Twins and A's from the mid 90's to the present, I posted part five of that series over at Royals Authority this morning. Thanks again, everyone, and I hope you join us at the above two sites.

Three Different Plans - 1999


At last, I have returned to this long neglected series, sorry for the delay.Part four of our series covers the 1999 season. In this season, both KC and Minnesota regressed in wins by 8 and 7 respectively. Oakland, after improving by 9 games from 1997 to 1998, jumped up by 13 more in 1999. Take a look at the numbers and general lineups for 1999.KANSAS CITYMINNESOTAOAKLANDW/L64-9763-9787-75Attdnce1,506,0681,202,8291,434,610Runs Scrd856686893Runs Allwd92184584698 Payroll$23,812,000$20,407,500$32,657,50097 Payroll$37,118,000$27,930,000$27,112,000Avg Age27.026.630.0le>THE 1999 LINEUPSKANSAS CITYMINNESOTAOAKLANDCKreuterSteinbachMacfarlane1BSweeneyMientkiewiczGiambi2BFeblesWalkerPhillips3BRandaKoskieChavezSSSanchezGuzmanTejadaLFDamonAllenGrieveCFBeltranHunterChristensonRFDyeLawtonStairsDHJe. GiambiCordovaJahaSPRosadoRadkeHerediaSPSuppanHawkinsHaynesSPWitasickMiltonOquistSPAppierMaysHudsonSPSteinLincolnRogersCLMontgomeryTrombleyTaylorBPServiceGuardadoGroomle>The off season between 1998 and 1999 was filled with the kind of player movement to which only the local papers would pay any attention. The Royals traded Juan LeBron for Joe Randa, and signed Rey Sanchez and Chad Kreuter. The Twins 'biggest' signing was of amateur free agent Bobby Kielty and, as a sign of going really young, releasing shortstop Pat Meares. Oakland added veteran pieces to go around their emerging young offensive stars, signing Tony Phillips, Tim Raines and John Jaha.Kansas City traded away two starting pitchers during the season: Kevin Appier to Oakland on July 31st (Ape still pitched enough for the Royals to be shown as one of their starters in the above chart) and Glendon Rusch to the Mets on September 14th. Unless you consider Blake Stein, Brad Rigby or Dan Murray a major league pitcher, they got nothing in return for them. The Royals were a potent offensive team in 1999, ranking 7th in runs scored and 3rd in batting average - that with only two regulars over 30 (Rey Sanchez at 31 and Chad Kreuter at 34). They sported two 24 year old starters in Jeff Suppan and Jose Rosado who both pitched over 200 innings, but the rest of the staff was weak, particularly in the bullpen where three of the four leaders in appearance had ERAs over 6.00. Minnesota cut ties with long time closer Rick Aguilera on May 21, 1999, trading him to the Cubs for Kyle Lohse. Otherwise their big moves were simply by bringing up the fruits of their execellent early/mid nineties draft. Keeping in mind that Jacque Jones was the 4th outfielder on that team, the Twins in 1999 were basically the group we Royal fans have become all too familiar with. Radke was Radke (219 IP, 3.75 ERA) and 23 year old Eric Milton logged 207 innings, but the rest of the Twins' staff pitched like a staff with an average age of 26.Oakland was active in the in-season trade market as they fought to contend in the A.L. West. On July 23rd they traded Kenny Rogers for Terrance Long, followed shortly by trading Jeff Davanon and others for Omar Olivares and Randy Velarde. IN addition to the aforementioned Appier acquisition, they also snagged Jason Isringhausen for Billy Taylor on July 31st. Although just 13th in team batting average, Oakland was 4th in on-base percetange and 4th in runs scored. Despite a somewhat hodge-podge pitching staff (Gil Heredia's 200 innings were 58 more than the next highest starter) and they used 3 different closers (Taylor, Doug Jones & Isringhausen), Oakland did manage to finish 3rd in ERA.Kansas City may have regressed in terms of won-loss, but there were reasons to be excited. They had slashed payroll by $14 million and IMPROVED their offense. Sweeney, Damon, Beltran and Dye were all all-stars in the making and none were older than 25. Plus, KC's best pitchers were both 24. The Royals needed more pitching (dead last in team ERA), a lot more when you remember they were counting on Blake Stein, Mac Suzuki, Dan Reichert and Chad Durbin to develop.The Twins took their lumps in 1999, but had just one regular over 30 (Terry Steinbach) and onl[...]

Three Different Plans - 1998


Part three of our series covers the 1998 season. All three teams improved marginally in their won-loss records from 1997 (see Part Two below) to 1998. Oakland by 9 games, Kansas City by 5 games and the Twins by 2 games. Here are the raw numbers and general lineups for 1998.KANSAS CITYMINNESOTAOAKLANDW/L72-8970-9274-88Attdnce1,494,8751,165,9761,232,343Runs Scrd714734804Runs Allwd89981886698 Payroll$37,118,000$27,930,000$27,112,00097 Payroll$39,350,000$27,150,000$23,950,000Avg Age28.829.329.9le>THE 1998 LINEUPSKANSAS CITYMINNESOTAOAKLANDCSweeneySteinbachHinch1BKingOrtizGiambi2BOffermanWalkerSpiezio3BPalmerCoomerBlowersSSLopezMearesTejadaLFConineCordovaHendersonCFDamonNixonChristensonRFSutton/DyeLawtonGreiveDHMorrisMolitorStairsSPBelcherRadkeRogersSPRappHawkinsCandiottiSPRosadoMiltonHaynesSPRuschTewksburyOquistSPPichardoMorganSteinCLMontgomeryAguileraTaylorBPServiceGuardadoMathewsle>Prior to the season, all three teams made some rather uninspiring 'station keeping' signings of or trades for veterans players. Kansas City went out and signed Hal Morris, Terry Pendleton and Pat Rapp. They also traded Blaine Mull (yeah, I don't know him either) for Jeff Conine. Minnesota signed Otis Nixon , Mike Morgan and Orlando Merced. Oakland did their part by signing the likes of Mike Blowers, Rickey Henderson and Kevin Mitchell. The Royals most exciting news of the offseason probably generated no mention of all at the time. On December 16, 1997, they signed an amateur free agent by the name of Runelvys Hernandez. They also made a trade very early in the 1998 season, moving Mike Macfarlane to Oakland in exchange for Shane Mack. Jay Bell and Tom Goodwin were gone and Jermaine Dye appeared in just 60 major league games in 1998, so the Royals went from scoring 747 runs in 1997 to 714 in 1998. Kevin Appier was injured and his 236 innings and 3.40 ERA were replaced by Pat Rapp's 188 innings and 5.30 ERA and the pitching staff suffered accordingly.Minnesota made a very interesting trade prior to the 1998 season. With Todd Walker slated to play second base for the Twins, they moved Chuck Knoblauch to New York for four prospects and cash. Two of those prospects were Cristian Guzman and Eric Milton. Walker proceeded to hit .316 in his first full season and the 22 year old Milton managed to log 172 innings. Outside of Walker and 39 year old Otis Nixon, however, the Twins had a very non-descipt offense and could not take advantage of a pitching staff that surrendered 43 fewer runs than in 1997. Oakland improved by the most of all three teams in 1998 and it is not very hard to see why. After having no pitcher throw more than 134 innings in 1997, the A's had four starters log 175 innings or more, led by two veterans free agent signees in Kenny Rogers and Tom Candiotti. With essentially four rookies in their every day lineup, Oakland had just two pitchers on their staff under 25 (Jimmy Haynes and Blake Stein).Although better than in 1997, there was no confusing any of these three teams for a contender. With the exception of Damon and part-timers Sweeney and Dye, the Royals offense was all nearing or over 30 years old. With Appier hurt and the 36 year old Montgomery compiling a 4.98 ERA as a closer, some of what happened to their pitching staff could not be helped. They still had a pair of promising 23 year olds in Jose Rosado and Glendon Rusch and late in the year added another young pitcher in Jeff Suppan. Minnesota was faced with replacing aging Paul Molitor, Terry Steinbach and Otis Nixon and the spectre of a declining Marty Cordova. They had young arms in Hawkins, Milton, Radke and Frankie Rodriguez, but a bullpen that had only one reliever of note with an ERA under 4.00. Oakland had handed shortstop to 22 year old Miquel Tejada (who hit .233 in 365 at-bats) and catcher to A.J. Hinsh (who hit .231 in 337 at-bats), but they did have the rookie of the year in Ben Grieve and an ever improving Jason Giambi to replace Mark McGwire. They had patched together[...]

Just a Quick Note


Just a quick post to let you know that I am still continuing on with our "Three Different Paths" series detailing the Royals, Twins and A's from 1996 forward. A busy couple of weeks have kept me from doing the next post in the series, but will do so shortly.

As always, catch me over at Royals Authority along with Craig from Warning Track Power.

Also, welcome back to the Blogger world (can I say that if I also write for MVN?) to Kevin Agee at Kevin's Royal Blog.

Three Different Plans - 1997


Part two of our study of KC, Minnesota and Oakland and the paths they took to success or oblivion focuses on the year 1997. As we discussed in the Introduction posted earlier (or below for those of you dealing in verticality instead of time), all three organizations experienced a great deal of success in the late eighties and into the early nineties and were, if not good, competitive in 1996 all finishing with 75 or more wins. Take a look at some of the overall numbers for 1997.KANSAS CITYMINNESOTAOAKLANDW/L67-9468-9465-97Attdnce1,517,6381,411,0641,264,218Runs Scrd747772764Runs Allwd82086194697 Payroll$39,350,000$27,150,000$23,950,00096 Payroll$19,998,000$17,390,000$21,161,000Avg Age29.128.827.6le>THE 1997 LINEUPSKANSAS CITYMINNESOTAOAKLANDCMacfarlaneSteinbachMayne1BKingStahoviakMcGwire2BOffermanKnoblauchSpiezio3BPaquetteCoomerBrosiusSSBellMearesBournigalLFDamonCordovaGiambiCFGoodwinBeckerMashoreRFDyeLawtonStairsDHDavisMolitorCansecoSPAppierRadkeKarsaySPRosadoRobertsonPrietoSPBelcherTewksburyTelghederSPRuschHawkinsOquistSPPittsleyAldredHaynesCLMontgomeryAguileraTaylorBPPichardoGuardadoSmallle>Prior to the season, the Royals traded a young Joe Randa and disappointing Jeff Granger for veterans Jay Bell and Jeff King. They also swapped Keith Lockhart and Michael Tucker for Jermaine Dye and Jamie Walker. Although Dye was a couple of years away from being an effective regular, that was a nice trade (Walker was, and still is a servicable reliever in the majors). Putting that lineup in the table, makes you think that team should have been better (Bip Roberts and Mike Sweeney were the top reserves), just as it appeared on the eve of 1997.The Twins big off season moves were the signing of two veteran free agents: Bob Tewksbury and Terry Steinbach. They had what they thought was a solid outfield for years to come in Cordova, Becker and Lawton and a young gun ready to become an ace (Brad Radke - maybe you've heard of him). Adding the veteran Tewksbury to a young staff (Latroy Hawkins, Todd Ritchie and Frankie Rodriguez) made a lot of sense.Oakland traded John Wasdin to get Jose Canseco back, signed Brent Mayne and Dave Magadan and otherwise did nothing of note prior the beginning of 1997.As the records reflect, none of the three teams were anywhere near good in 1997. The Royals, despite being in the middle of the pack in pitching (4 starters threw 170+ innings, wouldn't we kill for that now?), simply could not hit enough to win ballgames (12th in runs scored, 10th in average, 12th in slugging). Essentially, their veterans underachieved. The Twins finished 10th in runs scored and 13th in ERA, despite 240 innings from Radke and a 4.22 ERA from Tewksbury. Cordova, Becker and Lawton all hit .264 or below. Molitor and Knoblauch were both very good, but Ron Coomer was their 3rd best hitter - not exactly a recipe for success. Oakland simply could not pitch (team ERA 5.49). No one on the A's logged more than 134 innings and only veteran closer Billy Taylor managed to survive the season with an ERA under 4.00. Their offense, led by a young Jason Giambi, Matt Stairs and McGwire, was not bad, but nowhere near good enough to compensate for a staff that resembled...well, resembled the 2004 Royals.The Draft and The SystemsThe Royals selected Dan Reichert with the 7th pick in the 1997 Amateur Draft. The Twins, picking 9th, selected Michael Cuddyer and at number 11 the A's took Chris Enochs. To be fair, guys like J.D. Drew, Troy Glaus and Vernon Wells went in the top five and the only other really good players to go in the top fifty were Jon Garland (10th), Lance Berkman (16th) and Adam Kennedy (20th), so this draft was not exactly littered with obvious major leaguers.After selecting Reichert, Kansas City picked Jeremy Affeldt in the third round and unless you want to count Kris Wilson, Jason Gilfillan and Mike Tonis, did not pull in any other players of note.Minnesota nabbed Matthew LeCroy with the 50th overall p[...]

Three Different Plans - Introduction


This is the first in a series of posts in which we are going to follow three organizations: Kansas City, Minnesota and Oakland. All three teams can be classified as 'small market teams', all experienced a great deal of success before the landscape of baseball changed dramatically in the 1990s and all had very similar records in both 1996 and 1997. It is the 1997 season that will serve as our starting point for this series. However, before we embark on a season by season analysis, let's first take a quick look at what these franchises did leading up to 1997.TEAM PERFORMANCE BACKGROUNDLet us begin with our beloved Royals. Although they had not been in the playoffs since winning the 1985 World Series, Kansas City had remained competitive: finishing over .500 six of the next eleven years and winning over 70 games even in the down years. No, they weren't great, but the Royals were decent and at times still in a pennant race late in the season. In fact, before the strike prematurely ended the 1994 season, KC was 64-51 and giving every impression that they could win the division.Minnesota had experienced greater successes (two World Championships and a 90-72 season in 1992) and also greater failures (1993 71-91, 1994 53-60, 1995 56-88). Oakland had been in three consecutive Series from 1988 through 1990 and won 96 games as late as 1992. Like the Twins, Oakland had fallen on hard times in the mid 90's winning just 68 games in 1993 and posting very average 51-63 and 67-77 marks in 1994 and 1995.All three teams then made one last gasp at respectability in 1996 and fell back to earth in 1997. Take a look at the records for those two years:1996 RecordsMinnesota 78-84Kansas City 75-86Oakland 78-841997 RecordsMinnesota 68-94Kansas City 67-94Oakland 65-97DRAFTING BACKGROUNDNow, let's take a look at how these teams drafted leading up to 1997. One thing that truly stood out as I reveiwed past drafts: if the NFL draft is an inexact science, the NBA draft is all about projecting talent, then the MLB draft is pretty much like playing KENO. As such, I am not going to take time pointing out the spectacular failures all three organizations had, but instead will simply touch on those players that turned into decent to excellent major leaguers. You will be able to tell the success and depth of each year's draft simply by the number of players shown and the careers they had. The numbers in parantheses is the round in which the player was drafted.KANSAS CITY ROYALS1990 - Phil Hiatt (8)1991 - Shane Halter (5), Mike Sweeney (10), Joe Randa (11)1992 - Michael Tucker (1), Johnny Damon (1), Jon Lieber (2)1993 - Glendon Rusch (17), Sal Fasano (37)1994 - Jose Rosado (12), Jose Santiago (70)1995 - Carlos Beltran (2), Mark Quinn (11)1996 - Jeremy Giambi (6), Jason Simantacchi (21), Kiko Calero (27)This was not a horrible job of drafting, especially on the offensive side (the core of one of the best offensive teams in the A.L. in 2000 came from the above).MINNESOTA TWINS1990 - Todd Ritchie (1), Rich Becker (3), Pat Meares (12), Eddie Guardado (21)1991 - David McCarty (1), Latroy Hawkins (7), Brad Radke (8), Matt Lawton (13)1992 - Dan Serafini (1)1993 - Torii Hunter (1), Jason Varitek (1), Jose Valentin (3), Dan Kolb (11), Alex Cora (12)1994 - Todd Walker (1), A.J. Pierzynski (3), Corey Koskie (26)1995 - Mark Redman (1), Doug Mientkiewicz (5)1996 - Travis Lee (1), Jacque Jones (2)A lot of names here that formed the basis of the Twins success of the recent years. Imagine if some of these guys (Lee, Kolb, Varitek not to mention a guy named David Ortiz acquired in a minor league trade) had actually matured into the players they are now with the Twins.OAKLAND A'S1990 - Todd Van Poppel (1), Tanyon Sturtze (23)1991 - Brent Gates (1), Darrell May (14)1992 - Jason Giambi (2), Dan Wengert (4), Robert Fick (45)1993 - John Wasdin (1), Jeff D'Amico (2), Scott Spezio (6)1994 - Ben Grieve (1) *also drafted Ryan [...]

Scoring Runs - The Good, The Efficient and The Ugly


I thought it might be interesting to compare the American League when it came to how efficient various teams are when it came to scoring the runners they get on base and, obviously, how efficient they were at keeping their opponets from doing the same. Below is a table, in order by won-loss record, reflecting those numbers.TeamTotal Base RunnersPct Runners ScoredOpp BaserunnersOpp Pct ScoredCHI1308 40.3%128233.6%BOS152139.1%134738.6%LAA130738.2%128933.4%OAK139537.2%125436.6%NYY147639.3%136239.8%CLE136636.4%124936.5%TOR138138.2%127935.6%MIN134534.8%125336.1%TEX139341.9%143238.6%DET132936.9%129637.6%BAL135137.2%139137.5%SEA126737.3%137736.2%TAM137337.1%153542.5%KCR128136.9%150840.6%le>Although, it is not suprising to see all the teams with a shot at the post season to be among the most proficient at scoring their runners and generally (with the exception of the Yankees) much better at keeping their opponets from doing the same, here are some very interesting tidbits:Chicago and Anaheim (yes, I said Anaheim intentionally) rank 11th and 12th in total number of baserunners - ahead of only mighty Tampa Bay and Kansas City. Yet, those two teams have dramatic spreads in the percentage of runners they score versus the percentage they allow to score. Chicago is second only to Texas in scoring 40.3% of their baserunners and Anaheim is well above average at 38.2%, but they both are at the top of the league in allowing less than 34% of their opponets baserunners to cross home plate.Why is Minnesota fading in the wild card race? Well, look no farther than a league low 34.8% rate of baserunners scored. Although no one will confuse Minnesota with Texas offensively, the Rangers are putting less than one extra baserunner on base per game than the Twins. The Rangers, however, score their baserunners at a league leading 41% rate, fully seven points better than Minnesota. Why aren't the Rangers better (and they are over .500 anyway)? Well, the allow opponets to score 38.6% of their runners, identical to Boston and much better than New York, but at 1,432 baserunners allowed, the Rangers let too many guys on base (only Tampa Bay and Kansas City allow more).These number reveal nothing earthshaking. After all, good hitting teams get guys on base and generally will hit more in. Good pitching teams will limit runners on base and pitch out of trouble when they do. Still, I believe that the above percentages do provide a glimpse into which teams combine good pitching with good defense and solid fundamental play which translates into low percentages of opponet baserunners scoring. On the offensive side, I think it reflects not only who can hit the ball, but hit the ball when it matters, move runners along when they need to, and run the bases efficiently.For a recap of a dismal Royals' weekend, remember to check us out over at The Royals Authority.[...]

Defensive Rating Inefficiencies


Baseball was seemingly invented for statistical purposes. One can absolute be buried by batting and pitching stats. There are batting stats to overule batting stats to disprove other batting stats. Yet, when it comes to analyzing defense, statistical analysis is still somewhat scant.

Sure, you have the old reliable - fielding percentage - widely regarded as highly inaccurate. We have range factors and zone ratings, which surely give us a better picture of defensive performance. Then there is Defensive Efficiency, essentially the percentage of balls in play that a team turns into outs.

Does this translate into accurately reflecting a team's defensive prowess? Take a look at the Top 5 A.L. defensive teams according to defensive efficiency the last three years (2005 to date):

2005 - Oakland, Chicago, Cleveland, Seattle, Anaheim
2004 - Tampa, Seattle, Oakland, Chicago, Boston
2003 - Seattle, Oakland, Tampa, Chicago, Anaheim

Interestly, two of the top five in 2005 (Chicago and Anaheim) are also in the top five in fielding percentage. In 2004, Chicago and Oakland managed top fives in both categories, while in 2003 Chicago and Seattle managed the feat (Seattle actually leading the league in both categories).

I was not suprised to see Seattle number one in 2003, when they had essentially three centerfielders in the outfield (Winn, Cameron, Ichiro) and Tampa Bay, too, for all its faults, has speedy and proficient defensive players. Given their successes, Anaheim and Oakland being regular top fivers is not all that eyeraising. However, isn't interesting that the White Sox, a team that supposedly just committed to speed and defense this spring, have been solidly in the Top 5 in both Defensive Efficiency and Fielding Percentage all the way back to 2002?

Once adjusted for diffences in ballparks (courtesy Baseball Prospectus) the range in Defensive Efficiency from first to last is roughly .720 down to .670, year in year out. What does that translate into? Basically, it is five balls in play out of 100 that the best defensive team converts for outs that the worst team lets fall in for hits. Or, more to the point, one ball per game. What does one out mean? Not much in a 7-2 loss, probably a lot more in a 2-1 loss.

Still, is Defensive Efficiency the be all and end all in ascertaining defensive prowess? How do we account for missing the cutoff man, for an outfielder cutting off the gap and turning a probable double into just a long single? Or maybe even more importantly, keeping the runner on first from going first to third on a single. I imagine many, if not most, teams are intricately tracking evey ball in play, every exchange, every misstep, and attempting to compile this mountain of data into some usable measure, but they are not sharing that with the public.

Until such a time as the major leagues do provide this data, we may all be left trying to cobble together a clear picture of defensive worth from a myriad of old and new statisical measuring devices.

Why Do the Sox and Twins Win?


White Sox Team Batting - 260/321/408/719KC Royals Team Batting - 262/320/401/721Minnesota Team Batting - 266/332/404/736Well, there is an easy and obvious answer: PITCHING. Chicago and Minnesota are first and second in the American League in team earned run average (3.62 & 3.65 respectively), while our beloved Royals are second to last at 5.25. Is that all there is to it? If that was the only answer, then why would Cleveland and their 3.81 ERA (4th in the A.L.) be mired at the .500 mark (how many people in KC would love to be 'mired' there by the way?). The Indians .745 OPS is actually higher than both that of Chicago and Minnesota.Well, let's dig deeper. With the Twins it really is quite simple. First, their pitching is very good top to bottom. Imagine how good it would be if J.C. Romero was pitching up to form. Secondly, the Twins' team batting line with runners in scoring position is: 283/370/435/805 allowing them to score 8 more runs in 2 less games than the Royals. Not a big difference, save that their pitchers are giving up more than a run less per game.Then there are the White Sox, a team I freely admit I completely disrepected at the start of this season. A team I have spent all season waiting for it to drop off the edge of the earth. A team that is going to make the playoffs. A TEAM THAT HAS SCORED 39 MORE RUNS THAN THE ROYALS IN TWO LESS GAMES.Pitching aside, and I by no means intend to minimize the impact of great pitching, the Sox being ranked 6th in the league in runs scored while posting similar hitting numbers to the anemic Royals is worth delving into. Let's take a look at four A.L. Central teams with runners in scoring position (no idea why I have ignored the Tigers, I just have - plus they are pretty much just in the middle of the road on all stats, including won-loss, so there's no statistical 'coolness' about them):Minnesota - 283/370/435/805Kansas City - 271/338/402/740Chicago - 262/335/403/738Cleveland - 256/334/380/714Other than the Twins' proficiency (discussed above) nothing special here with regard to the Sox. They essentially hit the same overall as they do with runners in scoring position. Okay, how about with runners on base period?Minnesota - 295/370/439/808Chicago - 283/341/447/778Cleveland - 259/327/396/722Kansas City - 257/316/389/704Now, both Minnesota and Chicago are pretty good hitting teams with runners on base, which in turn means they are moving runners into scoring position more often than either the Indians or Royals do. The Sox also hit home runs at a far greater rate than KC (114-77), but conversely Chicago has 28 LESS doubles and 16 LESS triples than the Royals. No wonder chicks dig the long ball. Yet, Cleveland with just 9 less homers and 42 more doubles than Chicago still cannot score runs at near the rate of the Sox and have squandered a pretty decent team pitching year.Other sources have tracked runners in scoring position hitting and there is very little trend year to year, with teams or players. Throughout history, even the great 'clutch hitters' performances with runners in scoring position have varied dramatically. My guess is that is a very narrow statistical slice - hence the variation. Yet, runners on base anywhere anytime happens far more often. What a team does with a runner on first and one out would logically have a great impact on scoring runs.The White Sox go from a below average offensive unit in general to an above average team anytime runners get on base. Not to mention that they have also stolen 102 bases this year (at a 73% success ratio). That's 102 times a single turned into a double, while giving up an out to do that only once every other game.Simply put, clutch hitting (like the Twins have this year) is nice, but timely hitting (like the Sox have) combined with speed and pitching would appear to be lethal to opponets. The Royals' are not[...]

Statisically Speaking What is Average?


Any reader to the blog or PLUG Royals Authority PLUG, or most any baseball orientated column has no doubt been inundated with many statistics. Foremost among those are the old reliable (if not very telling) batting average, Billy Beane's favorite on-base percentage, the manly slugging percentage, and my favorite OPS. Well, it dawned on me the other day that other than a general idea of what was a good number and a bad number, I really had never explored what was the league average.

To start with, the American League as a whole, posted these number for the 2004 season:
BA - .270
OBP - .333
SLG - .433
OPS - .766
So far, and not suprisingly, the numbers so far for 2005 are similar: 269/330/425/755
There is little differential league wide versus left handed pitching: 271/332/427/759
And, contrary to conventional belief, verus right handed pitching: 268/329/424/753

Okay, so the .760 range of OPS is average which is roughly what I always basically considered (actually 750 was always my mark - but I'm doing the writing so I get a break) and above .280 in batting average I have always considered decent. What I did find suprising was that the league average in on-base pct is just in the low .330s.

Now, if we stocked a team with 9 guys posting these numbers, would it go 81-81? Not with Darrel May pitching, but would it end up roughly in the middle of the back in the American League? Doubtful.

If you look at all the players who currently would qualify for the batting title in the American League 50 of the 74 are above .760 in OPS, or in other words better than average. Some teams viewed as being very good offensively have a large percentage above .760 (Baltimore 5-6, Boston 6-9, Texas 6-7). Some that are not very good offensively follow the trend also (Cleveland 3-8, Chicago 3-8, Oakland 1-4). Some defy logic (Minnesota 5-6, Seattle 3-7, Detroit 5-5). The Royals, our favorite offensivly challenged crew, actually have two of three eligible hitters above .760 (DeJesus and Brown) with Sweeney and Stairs above .760 but neither with enough at-bats to qualify.

All this really tells us is that a decent (or better) everyday player must hit above the league average. Less than 33% of regulars currently do not and I would wager that percentage will shrink as the season goes on (Sammy Sosa, Darrin Erstad and Aubrey Huff among others are just below the 760 line). Plus, if you are willing to include Texas and Detroit in the conversation, every team that currently has five or more eligible players above the league average is currently within striking range of the playoff race.

Finally, one final nugget. The league actually hits better across the board with runners in scoring position.
League Overall: 269/330/425/755
With RISP: 276/349/435/784

So, next time we say 'yeah, but he can really hit in the clutch' remember that actually most everyone does a little.



An exciting opportunity has presented itself to this humble writer, which will cause some changes in when I post here and where I post usually.

I, along with Craig over at Warning Track Power, have been asked to become part of the We will both be collaborating under the banner of Royals Authority.

Craig and I are planning to alternate posting days during the week, which will allow both of us to spend a little more time with each post as opposed to 'cranking' out a post each and every day. Those of you who read both Op-Ed and WTP will hopefully be delighted with our new site and product.

I have not forsaken the Op-Ed Page completely, however, and plan to post once every weekend and maybe another time during the week on the A.L. Central and baseball in general. For daily opinions, stats and flat out rants on the Royals from both Craig and myself, I hope all of you will join us over Royals Authority.

If you are typing in the link itself, here you go:

Thanks to everyone who has read this blog in the past and I hope you all join us over at The Authority.

Random Mumblings


Doesn't it seem like a month since the Royals have played? And does it make me a less than well balanced individual that I am actually excited about this team getting back on the field? Quite frankly, I am hoping Zack Greinke went out and did nothing but party himself into the ground for three days. I often think pitching is a lot like golf in that the more you think and analyze the more you chunk it off to the right or hook it into the pond on the left - sometimes you just need to clear your head and pitch.

Anyway, check out the KC Star article with a bevy of Buddy Bell quotes today. Nothing earth shattering like "Shane Costa will bat second and play everyday" or "Man, that Terrance Long is not all that good, is he?", but a lot of snippets from the manager that give you something of an idea of what he thinks about his individual players. Two really stick in my head: "Buddy appreciates Angel Berroa's steadiness at short" - yes that made about half of my brain convulse too - and "DeJesus had done about all you can ask him to do", which I totally agree with. Sure, we would all like David to figure out how to steal bases, but that may come with more experience.

Trade or not trade, I see no point in playing Long more than a couple of times a week, if that. He is not part of our long-term plans (like DeJesus), he is not really helping the team that much (like Brown) and we already know what Terrance Long can do on a major league field (which we don't know about Costa). Here's hoping that our we see Costa/DeJesus/Brown in the outfield every day for the rest of the season. Stairs can get his at-bats at 1B/DH, maybe in a platoon with Graffanino - assuming one or both of them is not traded. That would give you a veteran hitter plus Sweeney in the middle of the lineup and allow our young guys to get all the at-bats they need. When/if you make another trade, then you have an opening for Ken Harvey..........................just seeing if you are paying attention, that would actually create an opening for Justin Huber.

Everyone take note of what the Colorado Rockies, a team nearly as inept as our Royals, did last night? First they traded Preston Wilson, a talented but overpaid player, for a young pitcher (Zack Day) and a young outfield prospect (J.J. Davis). Then they shipped struggling Joe Kennedy and Jay Witasick (yes, THAT Jay Witasick) to Oakland for Eric Byrnes. Here is what I like about those deals. The Rockies cleared some money so they have the flexibility to keep younger players (Byrnes, Barmes,, but also acquired talent. Zach Day is no ace, but he can pitch in a major league rotation. J.J. Davis has power potential, which combined with Coors Field might be lethal (say speaking of that, playing in big Kaufmann Stadium should we really be looking for a power hitting outfielder or an outfielder with gap power and stolen base potential?). Byrnes is 29, so while not young and hip, he is still good and established and has years left to play. As I advocated several months ago (I think, maybe I just dreamt it), the Royals can be sellers AND buyers as the trade deadline approached. The Rockies, never noted as particularly well run, made in my opinion two very solid moves that will help their team in both the short and long run.

Let's hope Allard Baird is working under the same premise.

Who Gets Better & Who Gets Worse?


The question for today is: how do Royal hitters far against a pitcher throughout a game? I thought this a mildly intriguing question at first, but as I assembled the stats my interest rose. What we are looking at is batting against a pitcher the first time in a game, second time, third get the picture. There are two flaws in these stats: first it does not take into account if the hitter had faced the pitcher previously in his career and second, by the time you get to facing the same pitcher 4 times in one game your statistical sample is rather small. Mark Teahen, for example, has NEVER faced the same pitcher 4 times in the same game and John Buck has done so only once. While DeJesus has 27 at-bats in this scenario and Berroa 22, no one else on the Royals has more than 13 (Sweeney). So, keep these factors in mind as we move on.OPS vs Pitcher 1st time in GameSweeney .908Brown .807DeJesus .749Stairs .737Buck .702Gotay .681Graffanino .664Berroa .660Long .660Teahen .654No big suprise at the top, with arguably the Royals 4 best hitters performing best. Oddly, Graffanino leads the team on on-base pct in this category at .366, however his slugging percentage the first time against a pitcher is a paltry .298. Matt Stairs ranks 4th despite a .248 batting average, thanks to 18 walks (a trend that continues the second time around).OPS vs Pitcher 2nd time in GameDeJesus .911Berroa .908Sweeney .825Stairs .768Brown .750Teahen .723Graffanino .608Buck .589Gotay .551Long .488Yeah, Angel Berroa at .908 (329/376/532) and that's with a decent sample of 85 plate appearances. Stairs sports an on-base pct of .393 the second time he faces the same pitcher, but only a .229 batting average. Once again, Graff has an odd lack of power in this category (.289 slugging, .289 average).OPS vs Pitcher 3rd time in GameGraffanino 1.233Stairs 1.059Sweeney .940Long .906Gotay .892Brown .747DeJesus .666Teahen .584Berroa .497Buck .488Hmmm, the four veteran hitters in the lineup are all dramatically better when they get a third crack at a guy - what a shock! What I find interesting in this category is Ruben Gotay who suddenly jumps from not very good to a major threat. Does this mean all he really needs is to gather more experience?OPS vs. Pitcher 4th time in GameGraffanino 1.500Brown 1.300Sweeney 1.038DeJesus .826Long .818Gotay .762Berroa .401Stairs .282Buck 0-1Teahean 0-0Remember, by now these numbers are pretty thin. Brown, Graff, Stairs have just 10 appearances like this and Long only 11. You can draw some conclusions from DeJesus, who is 8-27 and Berroa, who is 3-22 (that's 136/174/227 fans). What it does tell us if that given the opportunity to bat a fourth time against a pitcher, our veterans + DeJesus and Gotay, will light them up.Essentially, the Royals can be boiled down into three groups for these categories. Guys who are pretty consistent the 1st time they see a guy all the way through the 4th time they see a guy. Players who get better the more they face one pitcher and finally, players that get worse.The Consistent Ones (1st through 4th time vs. Pitcher OPS)Emil Brown (807/750/747/1300)David DeJesus (749/911/666/826)Matt Stairs (737/768/1059/282)Mike Sweeney (908/825/940/1038)I give Stairs a pass on the 4th time through as he has just 10 at-bats and DeJesus, while hitting just .250 the third time up does still have a .338 on-base percentage. Again, these four have been our most consistent hitters, so this is no suprise.The ImproversRuben Gotay (681/551/892/762)Tony Graffanino (664/608/1233/1500)Terrance Long (660/488/906/818)Interesting how Graff not only improves the more he sees a pitcher, but hits with more power (7 extra base hits in 45 appearances). Does he change his approach once he gets familiar with a pitche[...]

All-Star Ho Hum


I should be excited about the All-Star Game, I used to be, but I have to admit little more than a passing interest in the contest the past few years. A passing interest in how Mike Sweeney and some former Royals perform is about all I will muster. Maybe when we are contending in 2007 and homefield advantange might mean something...

Anyway, for today, just a few tidbits stolen from various sources.

First, take a read of Joe Posnanski's column in the KC Star this morning. I ususally don't listen or read the whining about how the Royals are not able to keep their players and the whole unequal balance of baseball thing. That's the field we can surely figure out how to play on it just as Minnesota and Oakland and Cleveland and Washington have already done. However, I did find this morning's column interesting in that he compiled a roster of all the stars, sort of stars, decent players that we have traded or let go and came up with a payroll of just $75 million. I say just even though it is twice what the Royals are spending this year, because the average team salary is $73 million. I am in no way saying the Royals could have or should have spent the money, but it is interesting that number is not higher.

Allard Baird was on WHB this morning and indicated that if Alex Gordon does not sign within the next week, it would 'be difficult to start him in Wichita'. I found it interesting that when asked about college guys who spend little or no time in the minors, Baird responded that it was unlikely that Gordon could make the majors yet in 2005. We all assumed that, but it was interesting that Allard offered that instead of 'unlikely until late 2006' or something along that timeline.

Exactly what is the point, by the way, of Billy Butler playing any more in A-Ball? Yes, the California League is a hitters paradise, but c'mon .359 with 22 homers? I am pretty sure he has learned all there is to learn in High Desert. Besides, learning to catch fly balls in Wichita cannot be much different than where he is now.

If you want some opinions on team grades at the break, check out Warning Track Power and Daily Lancer. Also, keep a close watch here, as the Op-Ed should have some quais-exciting news in the next week or so.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the All-Star Break


Not long ago (not even a week ago - maybe a day if you read this blog), the Royals were thought to have an upcoming starting rotation logjam after the All-Star Break. Both Denny Bautista and Brian Anderson were due to return, as was Kyle Snyder. It was widely assumed that Lima Time would come to an end, but then what? J.P. Howell would be well on his way to becoming a rookie phenom and Zack Greinke, well, he would surely be back to future ace form by then, right?Well, today we learn that Brian Anderson is done for the year and Bautista is 'out indefinitely'. The KC Star also speculates that given Snyder's 80 pitch limit, that he will be optioned to the minors following his rehab stint. I think the Star is out of touch on that one - Snyder will be in the post-break rotation if for no other reason than J.P. Howell is doing a very good Chad Durbin imitation this days. Let us assume that, but then where is all the pitching depth?What if Greinke continues to struggle? Quite frankly, that makes Jose Lima your third best the organization.....YIKES! All joking aside, can the Royals really trade Lima (assuming there is a trade to be made)? If you say that Howell is not ready (he isn't), then who would you bring in to take Lima's spot?Jimmy Gobble has maybe found a niche in the bullpen and Jeremy Affeldt might just throw a gigantic hissy fit if KC moved him back to the rotation (not to mention that he himself is likely traded AND never really got it going as a starter anyway). Mike Wood, like Gobble, is probably more suited for relief work, and if we are building for 2007 there is no point in putting any of the above three into roles as a stop-gap measure - keep them working where you will need them in we're talking about Chris George (4.82 AAA ERA), Dennis Tankersly (4.84) and Danny Tamayo (5.44) in Omaha. How thin is the Omaha starting staff? These three are the only pitches with more than 10 starts in AAA. Shawn Camp, for godssake, is starting for Omaha. Maybe you give George his fifth last chance (I keep forgetting the guy is still just 25 - that's pretty amazing - check his birth records), or maybe you live dangerously and see if Tankersley finally 'gets it'. I think we know what happens here, might as well keep Howell up then, I guess.What about AA Wichita? Well, unlike the offensive side where every Wrangler appears ready for the jump, none of the pitchers are probably there. Kyle Middleton (3.97 AA ERA) is the staff ace, but he's in his second AA season and is not viewed as a prospect (but then neither was Shawn Sedlacek). You have actual prospects in Brian Bass (5.67) and Mike Stodolka (5.90) who obviously do not appear to be ready, nor does Derrin Ebert (5.76). Intriguing numbers have been put up by Ryan Baerlocher, who sports a 2.59 ERA in 5 AA starts, but again, why rush him at this point? Might was well stay with J.P. Howell.The next wave of pitching prospects in the system are all the way down in A ball: Kaanoi, Buckner, Gragg & Hughes in High Desert and Cota, Campbell and Christensen in Burlington. Although they are basically in the same draft as Howell, none of them are close to moving through the system like J.P. did (although you can debate whether he should have, but that's another column).So, pick your poison. Stay with Lima. Trade Lima, for minimal value, and live with Howell growing up in the majors. Trade Lima, send down Howell, and take a chance on a minor league veteran (George, Tank) or a non-prospect (Middleton) or rush another prospect (Baerlocher or Bass). Frankly, and I cannot believe I am saying this, if Bautista is not coming back to much late[...]

Post Break Rotation - What Do I Know?


Just a few days after a speculated with certainty that the Royals would start of the post all-star break schedule with Runelyvs Hernandez and then D.J. Carrasco, we learned earlier today that Zack Greinke will get the nod on Thursday, follwed by Carrasco, then Lima and THEN Hernandez. The reasoning is that Runelvys' 109 innings so far may be putting him on a pace for a larger workload than the Royals think is wise having just come off arm surgery. I am not sure, I buy that logic - particularly given that Runelvys' 1,752 pitches thrown so far this year is already three hundred more than he has ever thrown in a season. One could reason that if Hernandez was going to have arm trouble crop up again, it would have already happened. You could also, however, reason that somewhere on the road to 200 innings and 3300 pitches the Royals would be pushing their luck. I have no reason to doubt Kansas City's intentions - after all Runelvys has been their only season long consistent starter - but one might wonder why the organization did not start worry about that sometime earlier instead of routinely letting Hernandez top 100 pitches in his starts for three plus months.Anyway, how about that post break rotation? Let's look at what opposing batters do against our five starters as they stand now, using my favorit string of 4 batting stats (BA,OBP,SLG,OPS):Hernandez - 266/347/409/756Carrasco - 270/344/365/706Greinke - 309/364/476/834Lima - 311/371/545/913Howell - 330/444/534/974D.J. & Runelvys numbers are fine...for your number 3 and 4 starters - the problem is that our perceived number one guy (Greinke) is pretty much turning opposing lineups into Mike Sweeney and our number two guy (Bautista) is hurt, young and enigmatic. That said, I am puzzled that we are sending Greinke out to start on Thursday - as if all he needs is a boost of confidence and off he goes. That could not be farther from the truth.Zack, for all his talent, spent the early season getting guys out be being cute - exactly how many slow curves can you throw major league hitters? Apparently about two months worth. In relying more and more on his breaking, dare we say trick, pitches, Greinke managed to so screw up his mechanics that sitting at home watching on TV, this blogger (and his career .200 high school batting average) could call fastball or offspeed before the ball left Zack's hands. He has since gone more and more with the harder fastballs (a good thing), but Greinke's control in and out of the zone has paid the price. Would there really be any harm in sending him to Omaha for two weeks? Essentially missing one start for the big club and getting two in AAA to get 'right' again? Look, it was not just that horrible night in Arizona: for June, Greinke had an ERA of 10.08 in five starts, with opponets hitting .383 against him. July, so far, has been little better: 8.44 ERA and .400 opponet average in two starts. Maybe a few days off and a quasi-installation as staff ace really is all it will take, I hope so, but I am skeptical as to what we will see on Thursday.A few other disturbing mini-trends to digest over the break. After a June in which Hernandez allowed opponets to hit just .185 in five starts (2.37 ERA), opponets have jumped him for a .347 average in his two July starts. You have to give Runelvys credit, though, despite that high average his ERA for those two starts is still just 3.65. You wonder if that is just a blip or a trend.D.J. Carrasco has fared similarly in July, allowing 20 hits in 12 innings of work. Like Hernandez, D.J. too manages to allow far less runs than his periphals would indicate. Those two July s[...]

The Art of the Three Way Deal


No, you have not inadvertently logged onto a porn site, we are talking about three team trades here. There is not a lot of rocket surgery when it comes to the dynamics of a trade.First, you decide the value of your players and those you wish to trade for. This value is a combination of skills, performance, age, salary and potential. Obviously, the goal it to get equal or more value than you give up. To the disdain of most fans, sometimes this value is more finanical gain than baseball gain, but that is the nature of the beast.Second, you have to determine if the deal makes sense to your team. Does it fit in with your short and/or long term plans? Will this improve your team or is it just a deal for the sake of making a deal? If you are in a pennant race, will this deal keep a team you are contending with from making themselves better?Third, can you sell it? You have to convince your trading partner to make the deal. You have to convince your owner this is a good deal. To some extent you have to make this deal something other than a public relations disaster (i.e. no one was happy the Royals had to trade Beltran, but they at least thought we got some value in the deal).There are enough different angles to the above three factors to make a trade between two teams a difficult task at best, particulary when it comes to teams seeking some type of equal value in a trade. However, the introduction of a third team into the mix (maybe even a fourth) provides more flexibility in making a deal happen. For one thing, you have more players/prospects to throw into the discussion and for another, the idea of giving and getting equal value gets somewhat 'muddied'. No one would trade Jose Bautista for Justin Huber straight up, this year or last year or the year before or five years from now. Yet, Allard Baird's insertion of the Royals into a four team deal last summer yielded exactly that exchange for Kansas City.So as we approach the trading deadline and rumors swirl everywhere from USA Today to ESPN to Royals Corner/Warning Track Power/Daily Lancer, to this humble blog, we need to think not in terms of one team as a trading partner, but in fact two or three in one deal.Let's start with the San Diego Padres. Mark Loretta is hurt and they are apparently ready to give up on Sean Burroughs. Now, given that the Royals do not need yet another third baseman, a Graffanino for Burroughs trade would not work, nor would San Diego probably move Burroughs for just Graffanino. However, the Twins and Dodgers could sure use a third sacker and speaking of third basemen, the Marlins are not adverse to moving Mike Lowell. Now, this could get pretty crazy, if the Royals toss Affeldt and Stairs/Long into the mix. However, would San Diego take on Lowell's salary in exchange for giving up Burroughs and a prospect, plus get Graffanino? Would the Marlin's give up prized outfield prospect Jeremy Hermida if they were getting Affeldt AND Burroughs AND Stairs, plus clearing Lowell's salary off the books? Even if San Diego did not particularly want Lowell, would they want the Dodgers to get involved in this deal instead of them?Okay, let's start over. Rumors circulated yesterday with regard to a Mike MacDougal to the Cubs for prospect Matt Murton, or maybe even Corey Patterson. Hopefully, the Royals would rather disband than trade for Patterson (he and Angel Berroa could exchange tips on how to swing at bat pitches), but somebody will be intrigued by Patterson. If the Royals are unable/unwilling to work out a direct trade with the Cubs or one with the Marlins (Affeldt for Hermida), perhaps there is some common groun[...]

Of Course They Won


The Royals are 29-28 in games in which Angel Berroa has at least one hit (see yesterday's post for more on this). Something I did not look at was mulitple hit games. In games in which Angel has two or more hits, counting last night, Kansas City is now 13-6. Apparently, Angel's mojo is more powerful than the negative aura Jose Lima has been throwing out there.To be fair, Lima was solid last night and actually had a stretch where he retired 11 batter in a row in which he actually lookd good. Three runs over 6 2/3 innings is not exactly dominating, but that is really what the Royals expected out of Lima all along. It may be too little too late for Lima Time (there are rumors floating that he will be released over the All-Star Break), but probably it earned him another start after the break - for no other reason that to see if you could generate some trade interest.Hats off to Buddy Bell for two 'out of the box' managerial decisions last night. First, pinch running for Matt Stairs with Ruben Gotay in the 7th inning. You do not see a lot of pinch runners anymore, particularly outside of the 9th inning, but in this case Gotay beat the throw to third base on a sacrifice bunt. Sure, he did fall down rounding second on the play before and should have already been standing on third, but either way Stairs is not on third in the 7th inning. Second, with the bases loaded and a 3-0 count, Bell gave John Buck (and his hefty .230 average) the green light to swing away. He did, at a pitch he maybe should not have, but was rewarded with a single. Both Bell & Buck may have been somewhat lucky on that play, but I like the intent and I like the idea of going for the throat when you have the opportunity. Kyle Snyder was in the dugout last night and is scheduled for one more rehab start (this time in Wichita) on Monday. He threw 70 pitches in his last start at Omaha and pitched well except for one bad inning that destroyed his line. There is a comment this morning that after Wichita, Snyder's next start may be Saturday the 16th in Detroit. Okay, Greinke goes tonight, Howell on Saturday and Carrasco on Sunday. You would assume that Runelvys gets the first start after the break, but after that I have not seen nor heard any info on probable starters. Carrasco could and should pitch next Friday on his normal rest (only he and Runelvys have pitched well enough to deserve that, by the way). Now, given what Lima did last night, and how Howell has struggled mightily after his debut, the assumption would be that J.P. goes when Snyder gets activated. Interesting that the Royals appear to be keeping Kyle on his normal four day rest and willing to push Greinke back (under that scenario, Zack would go 8 days between starts). I do not disagree with that concept, but it is interesting.Thank you Shane Costa. After pontificating yesterday on how well the young outfielder avoids taking an 0-1 count to 0-2 (again see yesterday's post for more), Shane let that happen twice last night. He did get a hit though, which is more than I can say for the ever more annoying Terrance Long who posted a nifty 0-5 in the three spot, leaving 8 runners on base. Finally, anyone else getting the feeling that David DeJesus is about to embark on a really good hot streak? Besides hitting the ball hard recently, I thought he had four really good at-bats last night (and one bad one). I have heard Royal fans describe him as 'average', 'serviceable', 'okay' and actually 'not good', but his numbers for his first two seasons are better than Johnny Damon's and frankly, I think DeJesus wil[...]

Berroa and Winning - A Scary Fact


I have a tendency to focus on certain players throughout a season. Either because I like them (DeJesus, Costa), am frustrated by them (Berroa) or fascinated by them (Greinke). As such, it is probably no suprise that after winning two straight games I could not help but notice that Angel Berroa went 5-7 in those two wins. And of course, that sent me looking into stats.In 28 wins, Angel Berroa is 43-177 for a .368 batting average. In games the Royals lost, Angel is 38-209 for a .182 batting average. Now, obviously there is a lot more going on to contribute to wins than just Berroa getting hits and in stands to reason that the more guys getting hits, the more likely a team is to win. Without devoting my day to it, my guess is that there are a majority of players who have higher averages in games won by their teams than in those lost, but I found this split (nearly 200 points) to be rather dramatic. For a little more fun, Berroa has registered at least one hit in 56 games this year: the Royals are 28-28 in those games. I freely admit this is a fairly skinny statistical analysis, but it does point out how much better this team would be if Angel Berroa 2003 was playing instead of Angel Berroa 2005.Anyway, moving on. As I mentioned above, I like Shane Costa. He just looks like a hitter to me. Once he learns that just because his quick bat can get to the inside pitches does not mean he has to swing at them, I believe Costa could be very, very solid. At the minimum, good enough to hold down left field in 2006 as we wait for Butler, Maier, Gordon to arrive. Interesting stat on Shane. In 66 plate appearances, he has encounterd 49 0-1 counts. Of those 49, however, only 13 times (26.5%) has the he fallen behind 0-2. By comparision, our favorite whipping boy Angel Berroa has let an 0-1 count go to 0-2 121 out of 227 times (53.3%). As Angel is an easy one to look statiscally superior to, let's take a look at David DeJesus. He has gone from an 0-1 count to 0-2 49.7% of the time (93 out of 187). Now, the one problem you can see is that 74% of the time Costa is behind 0-1, compared to just 55% for DeJesus and 65% for Berroa. This past weekend, we document Angel's production decline paralleling his increase in 0-2 counts, so Costa's ability to stay away from 0-2 is important.More fun stats on Costa. His 5 strikeouts in 66 plate appearances, just 7.6%, compares very favorably to Berroa's 17.7% strikeout percentage (seems like more doesn't it?) and DeJesus's 13.5%. Even as far back as college, Shane has had a very low strikeout number. Although Costa has not and probably will not ever get a lot of walks, he does work the count. Almost one quarter of his plate appearances have gone to a full count (24.2%), while Angel goes full just 10.3% of the time and DeJesus 13.5% of the time. I have no idea if getting a lot of full counts is good or bad, although the more pitches you see generally the better idea you have of hitting a pitcher, but if we assume Costa may someday be a number 2 hitter you would like his ability to work the count. In the same area, Costa's pitches per plate appearance rival that of DeJesus, who I think does a pretty decent job of working counts himself. DeJesus checks in at 3.61 pitches per appearance, Costa at 3.59 and Berroa at 3.46. Bottom line, trade or no trade, come August 1st Shane Costa should be our everyday leftfielder.One final note, D.J. Carrasco and Runelvys Hernandez may not have been anywhere near to lights out in their starts, but those two guys go to battle for you. If the[...]

Sometimes You Just Need Some Breaks


When you go an entire holiday weekend basically not scoring ANY runs, something a little unorthodox has to happen to help a team out. Something like being doubled up in hits by your opponet, but still managing to outscore them 8-6. Something like scoring 8 runs and not getting a hit after the 4th inning. Something like one of your top two starters (currently) giving up 10 hits in less than six innings and still surviving to win. Basically, sometimes you have to have a little luck.

I got into this a little over the weekend in my post about Angel Berroa, but just to reinforce the point: of the seven Royal hits, four came with the batter ahead in the count and two more came at basically neutral counts. The one hit that came with the batter down in the count? Of course, it was Angel Berroa (down 0-1).

Although Andy Sisco allowed one inherited runner to score and allowed one run himself, the bullpen was basically solid. Although Jimmy Gobble should thank the Royals' organization for moving the fences back a few years ago. Also nice to see MacDougal slam the door after seemingly going months without a save situation. Some feel KC should trade Mike if given the opportunity, but I am beginning to get more and more confident in his ability to be a quality closer.

One last interesting stat for this short post: Royal hitters only swung at six of thirty-four first pitches. Usually the team swings at roughly 33% of first pitches and when things are going well, take in the low 40 percentile of the remaining first pitches for strikes. Tonight, they took a cut at less than 20% of the first pitches and still took less than 40% of the remaining first pitches for strikes - odd numbers, indicating that the Seattle pitchers were not exactly painting the zone. Like I mentioned earlier, sometimes you just need some luck to get back on track.

In Search of Offense


The numbers are everywhere right now. You cannot read any article about the Royals this morning that does not blast you with the ineptitude of our offense as of late. Fourteen losses in the last sixteen games, three shutouts in the last four games, and worst of all: scoring runs in ONE (1) of the last THIRTY-TWO (32) innings.Buddy Bell has not sat still, I liked the swapping of DeJesus & Berroa at the top of the order and liked even more putting Gotay in the two spot and dropping Berroa down in the order. Truthfully, however, Bell's hands are somewhat tied right now. First, the Royals are not going to dip into the farm system quite yet for Justin Huber, Aaron Guiel, Mike Aviles, Billy Butler, Mitch Maier, insert the name of anyone you think can hit better than Angel Berroa here. While it is highly likely that some of those names may surface by August, that is not going to help the Royals score runs in July. Secondly, KC is trying to market veteran hitters like Tony Graffanino, Matt Stairs and Terrance Long, so Bell cannot simply hand an everyday spot to Shane Costa because he does need to showcase the talents of the veterans. Bottom line, until late July when the trade market comes alive, the Royals are going to have to figure out how to score runs with the guys on the roster right now. Having delved into the future often on this blog (as have most Royal bloggers), let's instead focus on how to score runs from now until July 31st.Now, these guys have scored runs in the past (for stretches in May and June they scored runs on par with anyone in the league), so you could stay the course and hope the offense revives itself. However, what would I rant about then? So, my proposition is to really shake things up in the batting order - I mean, exactly what is the downside?So, here is the official Op-Ed Page Royals lineup sure to score more than once every thirty innings:Tony Graffanino, 1B - Next to Stairs, Tony's .375 on-base percentage is the best on the team. No, you wouldn't bat him here for a season, but for a month, when you are showcasing him, why not? Ruben Gotay, 2B - His June batting numbers are 275/354/478/833, not bad at all. It is time to put him in a pressure spot and see what Gotay does. With Donnie Murphy waiting in the wings, it is time to find out about Ruben.David DeJesus, CF - I really have no complaints about David leading off and fully expect his .348 OBP to end up in the .360-.370 range by season's end, and long term he really does strike me as a number two hitter, but remember we are talking about a couple of weeks here. His .761 OPS is fourth on the team, so batting him third is not all bad, especially if he has runner on and....Mike Sweeney, DH - Tell me Gotay and DeJesus would not get a bunch of pitches to hit with the one respected hitter in our lineup coming up behind them. Sure, Mike has batted third for pretty much ever and has done nothing to make that look foolish, but let's put our power bat in the cleanup hole and see what happens.Emil Brown, RF - If we put Sweeney in the four spot to drive in runs, you have to protect him, and the best protection we have is the power hitting right handed corner outfielder we do not think we have: Emil (292/361/467/827).John Buck, C - Okay, why put a .221 hitter in the six spot? Well, for starters in June, Buck was at 277/299/400/699, still not good, but getting better. He has some power, you have to play him, and he could enjoy some protection in the form of....Matt Stairs, LF - The Cana[...]

The Many Lives of Jose Lima


Exactly how many starting rotation lives does Jose Lima have? He is arguably the most ineffective starting pitcher in the league this season - if you narrow the field to only those starters who have not missed a start then there is probably no argument at all. Yet, despite his struggles, things 'happen' that allow Lima to live on.

First, and although it is unlikely the Royals would have made a move quite so quickly, Lima was at least given breathing room by injuries to Denny Bautista and Brian Anderson and Kyle Snyder. At his apparent last chance, Lima proceeded to completely shut down his old team (as an aside apparently Lima's spite for old teams only lasts two years as he is completely inadequate against the Tigers this year).

Now, in the span of a week, with it a virtually foregone conclusion that Lima's Time is winding down, he first pitches an average start, but the rotation around him is ridiculously horrible. Then, perhaps his main competitor in rotation-ville, J.P. Howell begins to look more and more like someone who pitched in the College World Series just a year ago. I will be shocked if Howell remains in the majors past the all-star break - he is going to be good, just not yet.

Finally, Denny Bautista leaves his rehab start in Omaha after three innings with a 'twinge' in his shoulder. At best, delaying Denny's return to active duty in KC towards the end of July and at worst, delaying it far longer.

Thus, Lima survives the callup of Kyle Snyder (expected around the break as surely J.P. Howell goes down then) and can breath easy until at least the return of Brian Anderson, who has just started his rehab assignment in Wichita and is not due in KC until July 20th at the earliest.

Lima Time must have some serious voodoo working on his side - now, if he could only use that power for good instead of evil.

The Downfall of Angel Berroa


The Royals as of late have struggled mightily with consistently scoring runs. There are a myriad of reasons, of course, starting with Mike Sweeney's injury to sheer inexperience to somthing as simple as a team just going through a cold spell. Angel Berroa, however, stands out as a sore spot amongst many KC followers, with an annoying tendency to swing at bat pitches in crucial situations. Sure, we could say the same about John Buck or Mark Teahen or Ruben Gotay or any of the veterans, but perhaps we cast a more critical eye towards Angel simply because he WAS rookie of the year (and legitimately so, I might add).I decided to take a look at Angel, year by year and month by month, looking for some kind of statisical indicator that would give us hope that he would someday rebound to that second half 2003 form. Here are his yearly stats:2003 - 287/338/451/789 - 21 of 26 SB, 29 BB, 100 K2004 - 262/308/385/693 - 14 of 22 SB, 28 BB, 87K2005 - 239/281/340/621 - 4 of 8 SB, 11 BB, 59KObviously, a steady decrease in production across the board. Sadly, it is not that Angel is trying to hit homers and has lost his ability to hit for average, or is sacrificing power for average, or trying to get on base at the expense of power AND average - he is simply losing production right across the board.How about Berroa, month by month? My favorite, easy stat, OPS (on-base pct + slugging) reveals what most of us know: Angel is a streaky hitter at best and is usually very good or all too often very bad. In the fifteen full months that Berroa has been in the majors he has an OPS over .900 twice, over .800 once, over .700 four times. I think .700 is marginally okay, .750 is starting to be considered good in my book. Anything under .650 I would consider below average and Angel has logged in seven months below that mark (three below .600).The 900+ months were back to back in June/July of 2003 and Berroa managed to top the 700+ mark in three other months in his rookie of the year season. So, yes, he was pretty decent with the exception of .647 May for most of the 2003 season. Quick stat for 2003: in July of that year, Berroa had an OPS of .907 and a batting average of .323, but an on-base percentage of just .337. Curiously, in June of that year, he hit .327 with a .383 on-base percentage.In 2004, Berroa was horrific in April and May (.580 & .577 respectively), very good in June at .793, back to bad in July/August then rebounded after his demotion to Wichita with a September 2004 of 321/379/453/832. There is no pattern in any of this, Angel often follows some of his worst months with one of his best and seldom pieces two or three good months together in a row. After extremely fair to below average months in April and May of 2005 (.648 & .660), Berroa had arguably his worst offensive month ever in June checking in at just .229/.277/.305/.582.Now, I ran some numbers trying to find something tangible. My first thought was to compare the difference between on-base percentage and batting average: thinking that a larger gap between the two would indicate greater patience at the plate and theoritically better production. As I indicated above, however, one of Berroa's best months was when he hardly walked at all and two of his worst were where the gap between on-base percentage and batting average were greatest.Then I stumbled upon something. Doesn't it seem like the count is 0-2 on Angel all the time? Well, in 2003, when Angel appeared to be destined for stardom, h[...]

Andrew Sisco and a Curious Statistic


I have to be honest. I fully intended this post to be a disertation on why Andrew Sisco should not be brought in with runners on base - instead be a 'start of inning' guy, because it sure seemed like Sisco allows alot of inherited runners to score. Well, while he has not exactly slammed the door every time out, Sisco has inherited 30 runners and allowed only 13 to score. For a young guy who started the season with zero experience, that really is nothing to complain about.

And frankly, Sisco's apperance had nothing to do with the outcome of the game. As soon as Runelvys allowed a run it was pretty apparent the Royals were done. Paul Byrd was the pitcher Royal fans came to love in 2002 last night (and the one they should have/could have traded for Marcus Giles that year) and Kansas City was pretty much helpless against him. Not to mention we batted out of order to start the game due to a lineup card snafu...hey, it slow pitch softball, not the good leagues, the beer drinking ones, but I digress.

Overall this season, Sisco has appeared in 33 games, pitched 41 innings, allowed just 30 hits, struck out 43 and walked 24. A young power pitcher up from A ball is going to be wild on occasion and his 24 walks, while not great, are certainly not bad. Opponets are batting just .207 against young Andrew and slugging a pathetic .283 - Sisco has allowed just 5 extra base hits - for an OPS of just .601. Essentially, the league is Angel Berroa when Sisco is on the mound.

With runners in scoring positions, hitters post a .266 batting average with a .702 OPS, going 11-41 with 9 walks. That is still not horrendous, but it does show that Andrew is not quite as effective in this situation as he is overall - again, a young guy who has never been a reliever - we should expect this. BUT HERE IS A BAD STAT:

With runners in scoring position and two outs the league is 8 out of 24 with 5 walks - that is a .333 batting average with an OPS of .823. While the league generally is Berroa-like against Andrew, in this very clutch situation the league becomes Mike Sweeney.

Now, I have no explanation for this. It could be bad luck, it could be Sisco has faced an inordinate number of experienced, good hitters in those situations or it could be a case of a young guy getting a one or two outs and letting up just a little - thinking he was in the clear when he actually had one more out to go. Like I said earlier, the numbers reflect that Sisco has not been as bad in inherited runners as the perception is.

Bottom line, Andrew Sisco is a piece of the puzzle the Royals are trying to assemble for contention in 2007. Whether it is in the pen or the rotation at that point remains to be seen. I would expect that his numbers may get better regarding our discussion above - you could see Sisco being just plain dominant in a late innings role (setup or closer) - well, you HAVE seen it at times already. When Andrew starts making the league hit .207 against him in clutch situations, he will quite simply be one of the best relievers in the game. I think he has that kind of ability and is another reason Royal fans should be excited about the future.

Now...about that batting order.........

End of June Numbers Crunch


With an off-day for the end of the month, I thought we would take the opportunity to look at some statistical splits so far this year. The end of the month also falls conveniently near the midway point of the season (77 games) and since I have every intention of being less than 100% the morning after KC plays its 81st game (a result of the annual 'midway point blowout'...or maybe it's the 4th of July, either/or) we will use this as our halfway point also.With regard to individual numbers, my favorite stat is OPS (on-base pct + slugging pct). I freely admit that there are far smarter and more detail orientated statheads who probably have tens of more accurate offensive indicators, but OPS to me seems to be a very solid indicator of offensive performance. Hence, that will be the basis for the following rankings.Team Leaders vs. LHPSweeney - 1.042Buck - .851 (if only the world was full of southpaws)Brown - .840Berroa - .741 (yes, Angel Berroa)Graffanino - .719Matt Stairs actually has an OPS of .925, but in only 24 plate appearances, so I did not put him in the 'official' rankings. That is a small sample, but I was really quite suprised he posted such a number versus southpaws. Who were the worst you ask? I bet you could come close to guessing: Long (.469), Gotay (.517) and Teahen (.662) - although to be fair, Teahen's OPS v righties was only slight better at .673. As a team, KC has an OPS of .703.Team Leaders vs. RHPCosta - .858Stairs - .848Brown - .839Graffanino - .807DeJesus - .792I debated about putting Costa in here as he has just 49 plate appearances, but I like Shane and decided that was enough to get in the standings. Buck is the worst of the regulars at .554 and Berroa is equally as weak at .582. Surpisingly, Sweeney's OPS of .766 is less than Gotay (.768) and Long (.773). None of those are that bad, in fact, they are decent, but I did not expect quite such a big split between lefty & righty as Sweeney so far has. Gut feeling: if he stays healthy the second half, those splits will narrow. As a team, the Royals' OPS versus the righthanders is .721.Team Leaders - Runners on BaseStairs - .885DeJesus - .881Brown - .868Graffanino - .812Sweeney - .782Honorable mention goes to Ruben Gotay at .781. Here is a disturbing number for you: as a team with runners on, the Royals have an OPS of .689, their opponets have an OPS of .888. It is possible I am not a genius, but THAT cannot be good.Team Leaders - AprilStairs - .897DeJesus - .828Sweeney - .760I stopped at the top three for two reason. The 4th best OPS in April was BELOW .700 and that player was Eli Marrero. How bad was April? Four Royal everyday players (Brown, Gotay, Graf and Buck) had OPS numbers below .600. As a team, the Royals checked in at just .666.Team Leaders - MaySweeney - 1.021 (no suprise, he was an animal in May)Graffanino - .959Brown - .895 (funny what playing everyday can do)Stairs - .857Gotay - .772Did you know that Angel Berroa's OPS was actually 17 points higher than that of DeJesus in May (.660-.643)? Terrance Long was a pathetic .514 for the month and Eli Marrero was 3-35 (anyone notice I do not care for Marrero?). As a team, the Royals were a more respectable .716.Team Leaders - JuneBrown - .939 (anyone NOT guess that?)Long - .938 Graffanino - .836Gotay - .833Stairs - .825Honorary notice to David DeJesus at .810, a full 167 points better than May. Angel Berroa was a noticeably horrendous .582 for the month. [...]