Friday, September 24, 2010

Meche

I'm amazed by Gil Meche's transformation from frequently injured struggling starter to dependable reliever. Amazed not because I doubt his talent but because I actually thought he would never throw another pitch as a Royal. Meche has appeared 7 times out of the bullpen and has given up just 1 run in 8 innings, sample size is still too small to form a lasting opinion but so far so good. While you might shudder at the thought of 11 million dollars in middle relief it sure does beat 11 million dollars on the disabled list.

Meche's story has received ample attention in this part of the country. In his first 82 starts as a Royal he had a 3.73 ERA (Only 10 pitchers in team history have started 80+ games with an ERA of 3.73 or lower.), that 82nd start of course was his infamous 132 pitch shutout. Over his next 18 starts his ERA was a ginormous 7.52 and I think it was assumed his arm was done. But Meche has surprised us and it will be real interesting to see what his role is next season. The logical move would be to keep him in the pen but with the starting pitching in shambles I could see the temptation to put him back in the rotation and hope for the best. I wouldn't agree with such a move but I would understand the reasoning behind it. After Greinke and Hochevar the 3-5 spots are filled with 3 question marks, at least until Montgomery & company arrive in KC.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Worth noting

Brayan Pena has appeared in 13 straight games, starting 12 of them. In 50 plate appearances he has hit .419/.480/.605 with 6 extra base hits, 12 RBI's, and 6 walks. That's called getting the job done. Yes the sample size is small and no he can't keep it up. But it's still interesting, especially after watching the offensive disaster known as Jason Kendall for five months.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kendall's historic season

Well now we know what it takes to keep Jason Kendall out of the lineup, a torn rotator cuff succeeded where lack of production failed. I suppose a lot of you will think I'm happy given the anti-Kendall stance stance that I adopted the day he signed but I'm not. Only because I wouldn't wish injury on any player but saying that I am happy that we'll be seeing either Brayan Pena or Lucas May everyday for the remainder of the season. I'm not sure how Yost will allocate playing time but if I had to guess I'd say it'll be a 70/30 split with Pena getting the majority. I hope that May plays two or three times a week but I can certainly understand why if he doesn't.

Now about Kendall's 2010 season, since it's over we can begin analyzing it and make no mistake it was bad, historically bad. Only three Royals catchers with at least 400 plate appearances have had worse seasons, two of which had sterling defensive reputations. I honestly believe that if Kendall were above average defensively AND didn't bat one time in the #2 spot fans in KC would've viewed him a lot differently this year. But on to the list:
Rk Player OPS+ PA Year HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG
1 John Wathan 67 469 1983 2 32 28 .245 .289 .314
2 Brent Mayne 68 414 2003 6 36 0 .245 .307 .344
3 Jim Sundberg 69 491 1986 12 42 1 .212 .303 .322
4 Jason Kendall 70 490 2010 0 37 12 .256 .318 .297
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used

Wathan was actually pretty good the year before, true his OPS+ was 86 but his OBP was .343 and he set a record for catchers with 36 stolen bases. He also threw out 34% of attempted base stealers. Mayne's second tour of duty with KC was a lot like his first, he was a terrible hitter but a premier defender. He actually had three other seasons that were worse than 2003 but they missed my arbitrary 400 PA cutoff. Sundberg was one of the heroes of KC's 1985 playoff and therefore is exempt from any sort of criticism. His 3-run triple in game 7 of the ALCS remains one of the most important at bats in team history. 

 But here's where it gets interesting and where his season becomes historically bad. Since 1901 of the 506 catchers that came to the plate as many times as Kendall (490) only 15 had worse seasons. What's unfortunate is this list is very Royals friendly (or unfriendly, depending on your point of view). Three future Royals (Sundberg, Kendall, Boone), two Royals (Sundberg, Kendall), and a future Royals manager (Pena) make up seven of the seventeen seasons, when it comes to catchers Kansas City definitely has a type.
Rk Player OPS+ PA Year Tm HR RBI BA OBP SLG
1 Brad Ausmus 54 502 2006 HOU 2 39 .230 .308 .285
2 Brad Ausmus 55 509 2003 HOU 4 47 .229 .303 .291
3 Jim Sundberg 55 540 1975 TEX 6 36 .199 .283 .256
4 Luke Sewell 55 499 1926 CLE 0 46 .238 .302 .293
5 Joe Girardi 58 506 1995 COL 8 55 .262 .308 .359
6 Carlton Fisk 60 491 1986 CHW 14 63 .221 .263 .337
7 Jason Kendall 62 514 2007 TOT 3 41 .242 .301 .309
8 Bob Boone 63 503 1986 CAL 7 49 .222 .287 .305
9 Red Dooin 65 510 1909 PHI 2 38 .224 .264 .271
10 Tony Pena 66 512 1991 BOS 5 48 .231 .291 .321
11 Luke Sewell 66 509 1936 CHW 5 73 .251 .332 .350
12 Michael Barrett 68 506 2001 MON 6 38 .250 .289 .367
13 Jim Sundberg 69 491 1986 KCR 12 42 .212 .303 .322
14 Johnny Edwards 69 515 1970 HOU 7 49 .221 .299 .319
15 Jim Hegan 69 529 1949 CLE 8 55 .224 .298 .338
16 Jason Kendall 70 490 2010 KCR 0 37 .256 .318 .297
17 Bob Boone 70 541 1974 PHI 3 52 .242 .295 .322
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used

I'm sure people will be tempted to blame Kendall's lack of production on his injury but compare his numbers from the last three years to this one and you'll find they are remarkably similar.
07-09 - .243/.320/.313/69 OPS+
2010 - .256/.318/.297/70 OPS+

What's more likely is that this is just who he is, an aging catcher that has caught far too many games and is nearing the end of his career.