Saturday, May 30, 2009

More Greinke (because we can never get enough)

As Zack continues to make history with every start I decided to compare him to the top 5 single season ERA+ leaders of the last thirty years. Not surprisingly all of them started off strong and kept it up all season long.

Here's the top 5:
  1. 291 - Pedro Martinez 2000
  2. 271 - Greg Maddux 1994
  3. 262 - Greg Maddux 1995
  4. 243 - Pedro Martinez 1999
  5. 228 - Dwight Gooden 1985
Here's where they were after 10 starts (with Greinke's #'s included for comparison).
Player Year W-L ERA IP K/9
Zack Greinke 2009 8-1 0.84 75 9.7
Pedro Martinez 2000 8-2 1.05 77.1 12.1
Greg Maddux 1994 7-3 1.37 79 7.2
Greg Maddux 1995 5-1 1.91 75.1 6.9
Pedro Martinez 1999 9-1 1.98 72.2 13.3
Dwight Gooden 1985 6-3 1.89 76.1 8.8

I think it's safe to say that Greinke has a touch of destiny about him this season and really the last couple years has been leading up to something special. Check where he ranks in several stats among AL pitchers from the '07 and '08 seasons (min. 300 IP) to see how this season is not a case of somebody pitching over his head and having a career year (see Lee, Cliff).
ERA+ -7th 125
ERA - 5th 3.55
K/9 - 8th 8.02
K/BB - 12th 3.14
WHIP - 13th 1.28

I fully expect his ERA to go up but even if he pitches the rest of the year with his ERA from last season he will still finish at 2.69, which is fantastic.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Did we just witness the baseball equivalent of waving the white flag?

It sure seemed that way. This team had no fight in them...at home...against the first place Tigers. The new Royals are sure starting to look a lot like the old Royals. Now that's not to say I think the season is lost (or even this series for that matter) but they have been in a funk for a two and half weeks and are showing no signs of coming out of it.

On May 7th Bannister beat Seattle and KC was 18-11 and the winners of six straight but then something happened, some sort of karmic intervention perhaps (I have a theory I'll share some time), and the Royals are just 4-12 since then. Gil Meche is obviously broke and I fail to see how a 15 day DL stint is going to hurt him or the team - KC is 3-7 when Meche starts and haven't won one since May 3rd. That's your #1 starter folks and he needs to be fixed if they expect to be relevant in September.

The offense is stuck in neutral still. After plating 13 runs in consecutive wins against the Tribe last week they have scored 12 since and have a 1-5 record to show for it. Something has to click soon or they are going to find themselves in a hole they won't be able to climb out of.

There is still time to right the ship but it has to happen in the next two weeks (tomorrow's Greinke day would be the perfect time to start) because I fear that if they are 7-10 games back at the break then they are going to be sellers at the deadline and 2009 will go down as more of the same.

Probability Versus Possibility

While watching the Royals manhandle the Cardinals (considering the results of the last two games, I'd consider a 2-0 lead to be manhandling for the current intents and purposes--wait, wait, what was CRISP THINKING? You can't throw out big league hitters with noodles, Coco!), I came across an interesting post that I thought I'd comment further on. I'm interested in taking a look at what a few players are on pace for and what I think they're capable of achieving.


Zack Greinke: 15 CG, 7 SHO, 243 IP, 269 Ks, 26-4, .91 WHIP, .203 BAA, .82 ERA, 0 HR/9, 10 K/9, 1.6 BB/9, 6.08 K/BB
Career Norms: 2 CG, 1 SHO, 186 IP, 149 Ks, 11-12, 1.30 WHIP, .268 BAA, 3.96 ERA, 1.0 HR/9, 7.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 3.12 K/BB
My Guesses: 15 CG, 7 SHO, 243 IP, 269 Ks, 22-5, 1.10 WHIP, .225 BAA, 2.35 ERA, .60 HR/9, 10 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, 4.72 K/BB

Greinke should be considered nothing less than impossible to really project and guess. What he's done thus far is completely unrealistic--and though I said in the offseason plenty of times that last year wasn't the ceiling--and unpredictable. On the all-time ERA list, Tim Keefe is the career single season leader, with a .86--in 1880. Doc Gooden's '85 is the first "recent" season listed on the all time leaders and he's 42nd with a 1.53. I was going to adjust the CG and SHO and IP until I saw that he's being so efficient with an average of 106 pitches per game. When I started typing this, a quote came to mind where someone was questioning Koufax's loss total more so than his gaudy win totals. The amazing thing about Greinke, however, HAS to be his BABIP, Batting Average on Balls In Play. Throughout his career, his BABIP has been .315, which is a bit high. This year it's .298, which suggests that he hasn't succeeded because he's been lucky but because he's been good. Actually, that word should be good. Looks more appropriate.

Mike Jacobs: 36 HR
Career Norms: 31 (162-game average)
My guess: 34 HR

It was Jacobs that gave me the idea--or I should say, sticking up for him statistically is what gave me the idea. I pointed out that Jacobs' pace was 37 (as it was coming into today's game) and someone countered that Coco is on pace for 100 BB and Callaspo is on pace for 60-some doubles. He said that it's fun, but pace equates fantasy. Of course, he's right--when you're discussing that George Bell is on pace for 486 as of April 4th, 1988(sorry, all). But with a fourth of the season down, I think projections can give guidance. Jacobs too is hard to project as thus far he's been pretty streaky (hitting 4 HR from April 13th-19th and then another four between May 12th-19th--best time of the month or something). But again, enough of the season has passed to get an idea. The streakiness that he's thus far shown is why I'm hesitant to have him breaking Balboni's record. He doesn't really have to beat the record to have a better season than Balboni had. Their counting stats, as Jeff has pointed out are ODDLY similiar, and Jacobs' pace is even more eery considering that he's set to walk 3 more times than Balboni, strike out the exact same amount of times and hit as many HRs. Jacobs has a slight lead in RBIs, set to have 99 to Balboni's 88. But Jacobs' season is set to be much better considering that he's doing it in many fewer at bats. Working against Jacobs, however, is his BABIP being 20 points above his career norm and his norm is perfectly average. So you can say there's a luck factor he's benefitting from.

Coco Crisp: 19 3B, 42:8 SB:CS, 103 BB
Career norms: 6 3B, 27:9 SB:CS, 51 BB
My guesses: 12 3B, 32:8 SB:CS, 84 BB

Coco is an interesting case. Individually, I really thought Mike Jacobs and Coco Crisp would hurt us as they fail to get on base. But collectively, I had a hard time disliking the players (maybe not the way they were acquired and the result being Mr. Farnsworth pitching for KC instead of quarterbacking the Rams) because there was something huge they represented: two players that were considerably different than the Royals prototype of can't get on, doesn't have power, doesn't run well. And my biggest concern thus far has not been a problem as Coco is walking enough and Mike Jacobs BA/OBP split is much higher than ever. Again, turning to BABIP, I expect Coco's walk rate to go down because I expect him to start hitting more singles. His BABIP is currently .248, which is well below average and should go up, which drives up his batting average. In his career, his BABIP is .309, which is ever so slightly above average.

Alberto Callaspo: 62 2B, 8 HR
Career norms*: 28 2B, 2 HR
My guesses: 47 2B, 5 HR

*Taking his collective at bats over 4 seasons, Callaspo is currently around 545 at bats, which would make up about one full season. So his numbers would basically be like a rookie season. He's 12 away from matching that doubles mark of career "norms", and considering his BA/OBP split are near--but still above--their normal marks, I do expect him to continue to hit well, though not quite as well as he's shown. He's right around the age where people start to peak physically, so that could explain the power (slugging 100 points higher than career numbers). His BABIP is above his normal standard, which is an average score. He's almost on a record-breaking pace, which is why I expect him to go down but still be a very productive player.

Kansas City Royals: 22-22
xW-L and Projected: 22-22 (81-81)
My guess: 83-79

The Royals have clearly fallen off the pace that they were on but the question to be asked remains is it just a bad streak or are things just evening out? There are a few things to look at. While the Tigers are winning by a good margin today (internet issues kept me from finishing this post when I started) and they're up by 3 games, I think it's key to focus on the standings in a different light.

ALE (collectively): 119-106, .529 (6-5)
ALC: 104-115, .475 (11-9)
ALW: 86-86, .500 (4-6)

The numbers in the parenthesis represents the Royals' record against those divisions. Considering that we're two games up in division play (likely to be one game considering today's game) and that we're in the worst division in the AL, the way things have gone thus far this season, I think we can maintain well enough to remain in the hunt. I don't see us falling back and I doubt the Tigers really pull away.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

This is not how you win a divison

KC is 3-6 in their last nine games - all against last place teams. This won't do especially since Detroit looks legit and have decided to win the rest of their games. Todays most recent bullpen implosion dropped the Royals to 21-20 and three games back of the surging Tigers. Soria's injury changed the dynamic of the bullpen because I don't think any of us anticipated Ponson, Wright, and Ramirez pitching meaningful innings late in games.

This won't do at all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

KC takes the Indians closer to the Wood shed

How many people are glad to see Kerry Wood in the AL Central? In our ALC preview White Sox blogger Andrew Reilly and News Press writer Andy Meyer both predicted Wood to be a bust, which seemed about right to me. His ERA and ERA+ is now at 8.31 and 57. Sorry for your luck Tribe fans but been there, done that.

Here's your updated Jacobs/Balboni chart.
HR # Jacobs Balboni
1 April 13 April16
2 April 15 April 19
3 April 17 April 21
4 April 19 April 22
5 May 5 April 30
6 May 12 May 5
7 May 13 May 15
8 May 15 May 18
9 May 19 June 7

By my math Jacobs is on pace for an even 40 home runs and that my friends would be sweet. (Also 171 strikeouts but I don't care.)

Gil Meche's last quality start came on April 23rd, since then he has gone 1-3 with a 7.32 ERA and failed to pitch six full innings in three of those starts. His opponent on 4/23? The Indians. It's time for Meche to right his ship and tonight would be the perfect time.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Davies/Jacobs

Kyle Davies has tossed back to back to quality starts which I think has many of us breathing a sigh of relief. In his previous three starts the league hit .365/.444/.651 as he put up a 9.60 ERA, weirdly enough KC won two of those games. But in his last two starts the Angels and Orioles have managed to hit just .196/.269/.261 and even though Davies has put up a 2.77 ERA KC has lost both games. What an unpredictable team. I still think he is a guy who will put up an ERA in the low to mid-4's - which is perfectly acceptable for a #3 starter.

I'm not the least bit concerned about the 119 pitches he threw last night though I'm sure somebody somewhere is. It was only the third time he has gone over 100 and the first since April 19th. Now if he goes over 110 his next start I'll then start to worry about pitcher abuse by Hillman.
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Mike Jacobs is doing exactly what many thought he would; hitting home runs, striking out, and looking absolutely lost against LHP's. He is currently at 8 home runs which would put him on a pace for about 38 and that folks would be a team record. I'm surprised the poll on the sidebar isn't closer as he has one more home run than Balboni had at this time in 1985. Balboni didn't hit his 8th until May 18th and didn't hit 9th until June 7th (he also hit his 10th that day too.)
HR # Jacobs Balboni
1 April 13 April16
2 April 15 April 19
3 April 17 April 21
4 April 19 April 22
5 May 5 April 30
6 May 12 May 5
7 May 13 May 15
8 May 15 May 18

Balboni's record is a source of frustration for some fans as 36 is pretty low but others take pride in it as it wasn't artificially inflated during the steroid era like so many other teams. Jacobs struggles against left handed pitching may be what does him as he will get benched when the toughest ones take the mound. It'll be interesting to watch this season and I intend to keep running updates.
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KC's team OPS+  is at 100 which may be a bit misleading. Of the eleven hitters with the most PA's this season eight have an OPS+ of 102 or higher and six are over 110 led by Bert Callaspo's 144 (I did this piece about Bert for Hardball Cooperative last week). It's the three that are below 100 that is dragging the offensive numbers down because they are well below 100 - Olivo 62, Aviles 30, DDJ 71.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It's O-vah!

Okay, that's probably about as emotional as I allow myself to get when posting about the Royals. It's hard to maintain objectivity when you're emotional about something.

The Royals tonight "managed" to end their 6-game losing streak by beating the Orioles quite handily and drama free. We've had enough drama this past week so it's nice to have a nice relaxing night--once it got going. Counting the rain delay, the game ran some five hours and the stadium still had a nice turnout when Farnsworth got his called third strike.

In the text messaging voting, an overwhelming amount of fans voted in favor of Greinke winning at least 20 games (almost 50% of all voters thought he'd win at least 24 games!) and if that's to come true, then the offense needs to be spoken with. They showed a lot of fireworks beyond the ones sponsored by Hy-Vee and Pepsi. Jacobs continued to show why he's one of the most powerful hitters when he actually touches the ball. And Olivo remembered (finally) that he's better than what he's shown thus far. But as far as getting Zack up to 20 (or even breaking Saberhagen's franchise record of 23 victories in a season), then the offense is going to have to play up to their capabilities in every game. No more disasters like we've been witnessing.

DDJ needs to get out of the second slot. I don't care what Hillman thinks about protecting the sixth hitter if he continues to bat DeJesus in a significant slot in the line-up. I don't really want to make an assumption but insistence such as this suggests to me that there's a fairly strong level of hard-headedness. It just seems to me that a guy like Coco Crisp could really benefit from having the league's #2 overall doubles hitter batting after him. Callaspo isn't going to get there, but he's on pace to tie the league's doubles record (but since he's second in the league, he'd be Sammy Sosa to Longoria's McGwire).

Other than that though, I really have no complaints about the line up. Beyond switching Callaspo and DDJ, tonight's lineup should become a standard thing until Aviles wakes up. He could benefit from a demotion.

Zack Greinke continues to display his brilliance...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

For Your Royal Information (Team Comparison Edition)

As of May 13th...

2009: 18-16, tied for first with Det.
2008: 17-21, fourth place, 3.0 games back of Min.
2007: 12-26, last place, 12.0 games back of Det.
2006: 10-24, last place, 12.5 games back of Chi.
2005: 9-27, last place, 18.0 games back of Chi.
2004: 11-21, last place, 8.0 games back of Min. (record is after May 12th games as KCR was off on the 13th)
2003: 23-14, first place, 2.5 games up on Min.
2002: 12-23, fourth place, 9.0 games back of Min.
2001: 13-24, last place, 13.0 games back of Min.
2000: 18-18, third place, 2.0 games back of Chi.


Information comes from baseball-reference.com

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

It didn't go well but so what?

He's only twenty-five so there are going to be days like this. I'm not worried and I'm certainly not ready to put Ponson back in the rotation. Yeah he's been solid four of six starts but I think his history suggests that's not likely to continue. I'm a Hochevar believer and in the month leading up to the 2006 draft a lot of people had their suggestions on who KC should pick including me. My short list had one name on it, Luke Hochevar.

You can argue I suppose that KC made the wrong choice but I'm of the belief that it's too soon to make that assumption. Tim Lincecum has been great and Andrew Miller has been terrible. Those two along with Brad Lincoln (?) and Hochevar seemed to be the four camps that people were divided among. I don't remember anyone suggesting Evan Longoria (KC took Gordon in '05) or Joba Chamberlain.

He got roughed up in his first start of '09 but so did Lincecum and Miller (their first two actually), he just needs to be put it behind him and move on. I think he can and will.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Meche Curiosities

Someone at Royalboard gave a little list of three things that are bothering him.

1. Meche has to work (too) hard.
2. Jacobs shouldn't bat against lefties
3. Buck/Aviles are easy outs.

Number 2 is actually pretty obvious but it is frustrating that Jacobs has had 20 less at bats against lefties than righties. Jacobs' struggles with us southpaws (I am certain I could get him out--especially if my "fastball" can convince him it's a change-up) have been well-documented and every documentation is right on. The man simply cannot do it so let's put the hopes to bed. Aviles is frustrating as his downfall has been much greater than could be anticipated. He has already inspired rumors to acquire his replacement.


Focusing on Point Number One...

The team and Gil Meche are both 1-3 in the last four Meche starts, so I was kinda wondering about a few things and figured I'd take a look and report on what I found.

  • Through 7 starts, Gil Meche has averaged 102 pitches per game and is once again among the game's leaders in PAP (pitcher abuse points), which details how often a pitcher is going over the faux industry standard of 100 pitches per game. Meche has three times reached Baseball Prospectus' Category 3 (110-121 pitches) in its system. In his Royals career, Gil Meche has been used...well and often. Last year, Meche was sixth in the entire league in number of pitches thrown and tenth overall in total pitcher abuse points. In 2007, Meche was 11th in PAP and seventh in total number of pitches. The only positive trend would seem to be the average number of pitches between starts. However, considering what happened in Cleveland, you have to wonder how many of his starts have him going past a point of exhaustion. 100 is the industry standard but some people are built to go further than that and some wear down faster than that. The industry needs to do a better job of figuring out which pitcher is which. It probably wouldn't hurt to start piggy backing Meche over the next few starts in order to get him out on the mound but not to exhaust him too much. There is a set number of pitches for each individual pitcher. Each group of pitches (10-15) past that point is only asking for injury.
  • I once read a statement that a starting pitcher should at least be able to get into the seventh inning on 90 pitches. (I'm not exactly sure who said this but I've been under the belief that it was Mike Arbuckle, then Phillie executive--it's been a couple of years.) In Gil Meche' Royals career, he's started 75 games. We're nearing the halfway point of his much publicized contract and while, I have been wrong thus far and Meche has been a worthwhile though still questionable contract, we still have a long ways to go yet. In his 75 starts, there have been 36 starts where he's gone six or less with 90 or more pitches (including five times this season and he was on pace to fall short in Toronto considering he went 3.67 innings on 84 pitches). Do keep in mind that there are outings where he went more than 6 and had 90 or more pitches but there's no documentation that I can find that stats when in the starts he went over the 90 threshhold. (Example of how this can skew reporting: 94 pitches to get through 6 innings and then a 1-2-3 7th on 9 pitches.)
  • I'd like to look a bit further into the average number of pitches per start. As said, Meche is currently averaging 102 pitches per start and really, that's a pretty good number. You'd have to think that a man of Meche's size could handle a bit more--if it wasn't for his past being so littered with serious injuries. So 102 isn't bad at all. And looking at the complete seasons in his Royals career, 104.5 for '08 and 105 for '07. These numbers by themselves aren't too alarming, but really that's only a mask that is pulled over the eyes when assuming an 80-pitch start plus a 120-pitch starts equal a 100-pitch average. It does not, of course. After 80 pitches an MLB starter shouldn't be to the point of exhaustion. After 120, however, exhaustion could come well before that...and that's why PAP is important. I wanted to point out any starts where Meche has gone 75 or more pitches while being pulled before any starter should get pulled (6 innings). In this regard, his last start could be considered his worst of the season (120 pitches for 5.2 innings). In his entire Royal career, there have been 17 times when Meche has failed to go at least 6 innings while throwing 75 or more pitches, with 13 of these starts featuring a Meche at less than his best. If 3 ER or less in six innings is a quality game, I decided that he should give up 2 or less in 5 or less for me to consider him pitching well in those 17 games. (In those other four games, Meche was pitching well enough to hold the opposition, but battling enough to have a high enough pitch count that it wasn't pretty.) If you were to take out these 17 games, Meche, as a Royal, averages just a bit higher at 106 per start.
So far, Meche has no real trends statisically on a per month basis. In 2007, Meche had a brilliant start and continuously regressed through July, his worst month that season, and he pitched better in August until finishing almost as brilliantly as he started. Last season, Meche started poorly and progressively got better until August and September, where he pitched a bit worse than his trend but still pitched well (3.49 and 3.48). So far this year, he pitched well in April and very poorly in May (but only through 2 starts) ...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Tough luck for Greinke

A double, a sacrifice bunt, and a sacrifice fly. That's all it took to beat Zack Greinke on a night in which he only gave up four hits in eight innings. Greinke became the seventh player since the start of the 2008 season to allow four hits or less in a complete game and lose. He's the only pitcher of the seven to give up just one run. That is really tough luck. It's happened forty-one times for a Royal with this game by Kevin Appier probably the toughest loss in team history by a starting pitcher, he gave up only one, a home run, and struck out eleven.

But small ball is what did in Greinke and the Royals offense was pathetic enough to let the one run hold up. As a rule I generally hate small ball and when Aybar sacrificed Matthews over to third I was pleased - because they willingly gave up an out to the best pitcher in baseball. Of course when Figgins hit the sacrifice fly and I had to admit the strategy worked though I would still hate to see KC do it. For two reasons actually, the first being that Matthews was already in scoring position and the second reason is as a team the Royals strike out a lot. The Royals are fifth in the league in strikeouts while the Angels are thirteenth so maybe small ball works better for them because they have guys who can frequently put the ball in play.

Now I know we hear that strike outs are just like any other out but that is not true and I think Figgins proved that last night. They are unproductive and can kill momentum. I don't get why people obsess over a pitchers strike out rate and then blow it off when a hitter strikes out a lot. If a strikeout is the best possible outcome for a pitcher then wouldn't logic dictate that's it the worst thing a hitter can do? There's also the whole babip thing which suggests that once the ball is in play anything can happen. In other words if the Royals strikeout less then they probably will see an increase in batting average and on base percentage which ultimately will lead to more runs.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Odds and ends (and of course more on Greinke)

Zack Greinke is awesome, but more on that later. First I want to talk about Jose Guillen. A lot was made of his on base struggles last season and many acted like that was a typical season for him, which of course wasn't true. Basically I cut him some slack and expected some improvement this season and predicted it in this post. People either ignore or are unaware that from 2003-2007 Guillen hit .286/.343/.489 with a 119 OPS+ (and this includes an injury filled stinker in 2006 when he put up a 75 OPS+). I do realize that a lot of the criticism was contract related and he definitely wasn't worth 12 million dollars - I doubt he ever will be. But that's not to say that he can't be productive and he certainly has been this season.

The Royals are 8-5 when he plays and ironically were 8-5 in his first thirteen games last season but look at the difference in his production.
Year HR/RBI BB/K AVG/OBP/SLG
2008 0/5 2/12 .151/.182/.208
2009 3/11 6/7 .298/.389/.532

At his age that would seem to be an unsustainable pace but it wouldn't surprise me one bit if he hit .300/.350/.500 this season, however a .285/.345/.450 line seems more reasonable.
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I'm still not worried about Mike Aviles because his bat is finally coming around. After an 0/4 game on April 24th his line read .169/.180/.203 but in the eight games since he has hit .310/.333/.517 covering 31 plate appearances.
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Zack Greinke is 6-0 with a 0.40 ERA and a ridiculous 1173 ERA+. I thought it would be fun to compare his 2009 campaign to other great seasons (think Saberhagen '89, not '87). One column will be their first six starts and the other will be their final numbers. The seasons I chose are pretty much random but include many of the great pitchers of the last thirty years. They all won the CY Young award.

Player Year Six Starts Season
Lee 2008 6-0 0.81 22-3 2.54
Johnson 2002 6-0 1.37 24-5 2.32
Martinez 1999 5-1 2.06 23-4 2.07
Maddux 1995 3-1 2.68 19-2 1.63
Saberhagen 1989 2-2 3.34 23-6 2.16
Clemens 1986 5-0 1.99 24-4 2.68
Saberhagen 1985 2-3 4.62 20-6 2.87
Gooden 1985 4-1 1.57 24-4 1.53

Monday, May 4, 2009

Hochevar

Luke Hochevar was named the PCL pitcher of the week.

Royals prospect Luke Hochevar, the first overall pick in the 2006 Draft, surrendered one unearned run over 13 innings this week. On April 27, he beat Neftali Feliz, MLB.com's No. 9 prospect, by holding Oklahoma City to four hits and two walks while striking out seven in six innings' work. He tossed a seven-inning complete game, two-hit shutout on May 2 to notch his second win of the week. Hochevar leads the Pacific Coast League with a 5-0 record and an ERA of 1.13.

He's currently 5-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 1.03 WHIP so can we please end this Ponson madness? Please? The Royals are in first place and appear to be in the mix all season but they absolutely cannot afford to send Ponson out there every fifth day and expect to be contenders. They are 0-5 when he starts and I don't care that he pitched well in two of them because more noteworthy is that in two of his last three starts he has gone less than five innings and given up six and seven earned runs.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Royals finally solve Baker

Scott Baker going into todays game had held KC to a .211/.234/.278 line that covered nine career starts. And sure enough today started off like this game as he held them without a hit for the first six innings. And then KC's bats woke up and won a game that they would normally lose. They plated five runs off Baker in the 7th inning and one each in the 8th and 9th off the Twins 'pen to win 7-5. This is two days in a row that they've won games because they refused to give up in the late innings. A less than stellar Gil Meche got the win and considering he has gotten losses and ND's in so many quality starts as a Royal it was nice to see the offense bail him out. In the past with Morneau at the plate representing the tying run I would have expected the game to be tied but Soria got him to ground out to end the game. These Royals are different.

Kansas City took two of three from the Twins in their house (houses have roofs, stadiums don't) and in the process announced their official arrival as challengers to the Central title. And really you have to assume that they can only get better. The Sidney Ponson experience should mercifully be over soon and Luke Hochevar, who is dominating AAA (5-0 1.13), will replace him. Hopefully Ponson's next start will be his last (if his last start wasn't his last).

~This post was originally much longer but due to circumstances beyond my control and through no fault of my own it got deleted.~ 

Friday, May 1, 2009

What a difference a year makes

One month in the books and the Royals and their fans should be feeling pretty good about the young season. While the pitching has been fantastic the offense has been slow to come around, though Toronto may think otherwise. Sitting at 12-10 and in first place the Royals are in position to be a factor all year long in the Central - something not heard in Kansas City for quite some time.

The offense hasn't been great but it is better than last season.
Year Record RPG AVG/OBP/SLG HR's
2008 12-15 3.70 .259/.316/.364 15
2009 12-10 4.41 .249/.331/.429 23

Well right off we notice that they are getting on base more and hitting for a lot more power which of course will lead to more runs. While quite a bit was said of the Crisp and Jacobs acquisitions they have been as advertised. Crisp is batting .247/.371/.494 with a league leading four triples and sixteen walks, good for fourth in the AL. Jacobs is who we thought he was, a power hitter who strikes out a lot. He is on pace for the eleventh 30 home run season in club history but he will need to pick up the pace to make a run at Balboni's team record. I guess I should also mention another newcomer though he hasn't played as much (43 PA's), Willie Bloomquist is batting .333/.439/.424 and has been more than impressive at the plate.

And while those three have been part of the offensive improvement there are four holdovers having terrific seasons, three of which are contributing more than many thought they would.
Player 2008 2009
Teahen .277/.360/.406 .300/.391/.488
Butler .290/.351/.370 .262/.377/.431
Callaspo .351/.415/.432 .379/.432/.545
Buck .221/.316/.353 .300/.370/.700

Butler's numbers are skewed by his last two games (6/9, 4 extra base hits) but he has been taking more walks this season so it just seemed like a matter of time before he would start producing. I think many of us will feel better when he is more Sweeney and less Harvey. Those numbers should get better.

Callaspo and Buck will both a some point come down while I think Teahen can sustain his numbers over a full season. I don't know that he will but I believe it's possible.

Buck and Olivo each have 46 PA's through the first month. Can we just end this charade and let Buck take over the majority of playing time?
  • Buck - .300/.370/.700 3 HRs 15 RBIs
  • Olivo - .178/.196/.333 2 HRs 4 RBIs 
Aviles is starting to show signs of life as evidenced by a .980 OPS his last five games so that is great to see. Now we are just waiting on DDJ's bat to come alive.