Much ado is made over so-called “advanced statistics” (they’re just statistics, people) versus the old statistics and ways of thinking. There are still many out there who are resistant to the newer way of thinking about and analyzing baseball. And it’s become apparent that talking to these people is a war of attrition. The more stats you mention to back up your point, the more they close their minds.
It’s just the way life works. It’s the same with religion or politics or science or whatever you want. There are always certain folks that either can’t wrap their minds around a new concept or don’t want to accept that what they’ve believed all this time has been wrong. So, they reject the new information.
I’m not one to tell people what to think. Or, at least I try not to do so. Instead, I want to talk about how to discuss the current Royals with these folks. How do you get across the improvements the team is making and the abilities of some of the players on the field without using newer stats? Well, I gave it a shot…
I’m going to break this up into discussing the offense and pitching, as both obviously have separate discussion points.
The 2011 Royals scored more runs than any season since 2006. That means they have a load of RBIs. Four players had at least 87 RBIs, and all three outfielders oddly ended with exactly 87. Billy Butler, who is criticized for too few home runs, still had 95 RBIs to go with his 19 homers. For those counting at home, that’s a career high for Billy, Melky Cabrera, and Alex Gordon. And when the young players came on, they hit well. Eric Hosmer had 19 homers and 78 RBIs in 128 games. Both were team highs for that length of a season (on average). Salvador Perez hit really well for a player that wasn’t expected to do so and who started the year in AA. And both Johnny Giavotella and Mike Moustakas had great streaks in their first season in the majors. Oh, and that new Alcides Escobar guy? He had more hits, doubles, RBIs, and steals than any of his previous seasons. It was a really good offensive year for a team that wasn’t supposed to be good. Here are some rankings that show just how much they improved over last season:
Runs: 6th after Boston, New York, Texas, Detroit, and Toronto (10th last year)
Hits: 3rd after Boston and Texas (2nd last year)
Doubles: 2nd after Boston (7th last year)
Triples: 1st (5th last year)
RBIs: 5th after Boston, New York, Texas, and Detroit (10th last year)
Steals: 2nd after Tampa Bay (6th last year)
So, there are some good rankings to quote there for the offense. Enough, at least, to show that they stand in there with the big boys. And all of that while having the youngest Royals offense since 1969.
Royals pitchers gave up fewer runs over a full season in 2011 than any season since 1993. Luke Hochevar posted career highs in wins, strikeouts, and innings, and gave up fewer hits than innings pitched for the first time since the 12.2 innings he pitched in 2007 (11 hits). Bruce Chen earned 12 wins for the second year in a row while pitching more innings in fewer games and allowing the same number of runs. Jeff Francis continued his recovery from surgery to throw 183 innings. While he wasn’t as successful, he’s also a free agent, so worries of his future don’t have to tie into the team. Felipe Paulino was nails in his starts, striking out almost as many batters (119) as inning pitched (124.2). Danny Duffy came in in his first major league season and struck out 87 in 105.1 innings. For a guy in his first season, that’s a good start. And he should improve in 2012, so that’s a great sign.
Oh, and they cut Kyle Davies loose. That’s a good thing to mention for the sake of justifying the front office’s decisions.
As far as the bullpen goes, it’s pretty easy. The guys were really young (no one older than 27 once Robinson Tejeda was dropped) and pitched incredible well for their first full season. Greg Holland, who is quickly becoming a favorite, struck out 11 batters per nine innings, or74 in 60 innings. Aaron Crow and Louis Coleman both struck out more batters than innings pitched. And Joakim Soria struck out 60 batters in 60.1 innings which racking up 28 saves in a “down year” for him. The stable of bullpen horses really thickened.
Nathan Adcock showed he could handle throwing a ton of innings after being no higher than high-A in the minors. He pitched at least five innings twice this season, allowing only two runs total in those two outings. Tim Collins came in at 21 years old and threw more innings than any other new pitchers. While he started to tire down the stretch, he still had a very impressive season. And Everett Teaford made for a good lefty arm out of the ‘pen when the Royals needed it. He even started a few games at the end of the year, giving up six runs over 16 innings while striking out 13.
So, for a down year for the pitchers, it wasn’t bad at all. And given that they’re in the market for another starter, it could be even better next year.
As for the defense, well, I guess you’ll just have to watch the games and see Alcides Escobar scrambling all over the field to make plays. Or see Jeff Francoeur and Alex Gordon gunning down runners at second, third, home, and even first. And see Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez making plays to snag every ball they see in the dirt. You’ll just have to watch.
It’s not impossible to relate the successes and improvements of these Royals to more traditional fans. It’s not impossible at all. Just like with any stats, sometimes highlighting certain ones avoids the issues that others expose. In fact, you can almost impart more optimism just by sharing these stats than by going into more recent statistics. If you do that, it’s not your fault for choosing certain things.
It’s their fault for ignoring others.
Tags: Aaron Crow AL Central Alcides Escobar Alex Gordon Baseball Billy Butler Bruce Chen Danny Duffy Eric Hosmer Everett Teaford Felipe Paulino Greg Holland Jeff Francis Jeff Francoeur Joakim Soria Johnny Giavotella Kansas City Royals KC KC Royals Kyle Davies Louis Coleman Luke Hochevar Melky Cabrera Mike Moustakas MLB Nathan Adcock Royals Salvador Perez Tim Collins