Apr 30, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) connects for a home run in the sixth inning of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

This Week in Royaltown

I wonder if, at this point, the Royals see playing baseball as a part-time job. They play so rarely—another five-game week—that it must feel like it sometimes. Thursday, they had a game wiped from the books, and players were lamenting that every scheduled off day late in the season would be gone before too long. It is kind of interesting to consider, though. I wonder how many teams have played three, five-game weeks in a row in the last ten years. If I had ambition, I might try to find out.

Though they only played five games, which is tough on diehards like myself, the Royals did well in those five games going 4-1, which brings their overall record to 17-10. That’s very encouraging, especially when they took two of three from the Rays and the White Sox (we’ll see if they can get the sweep tomorrow). For that, they get an A grade for this week.

Here are some themes for you:

‘Call the park ranger because the Moose is on the loose!’

I promised a friend that once Mike Moustakas started heating up, I would use this Dan Plesac line (potentially misquoted) that he and I find hilarious. It’s kind of hokey, and that’s why I like it. It might be an overstatement to say that Moustakas is back or that he’s hot or that he has “found it,” but last week, I predicted a turn around from him. And he certainly is turning it around. I’m not one to pass up an opportunity to point out when I’m right. So, I’m going to point it out while it’s still true. This last week, Moustakas went 6-16 with a double, a homerun, four RBI, two runs scored, and one walk. That’s a very solid week. He has also played tremendous defense in the Chicago series so far. It’s not a coincidence that Moustakas and Eric Hosmer are playing decent (not necessarily to their potential but decent), and the Royals have won four games in a row and look pretty dangerous.

The next step for Moustakas is to start driving the ball out of the park. His power seems to come in bunches so if he gets a couple of homers in the next few days, watch out. He could have a big May in the homerun column.

‘Life’s a dirty game. You gotta play dirty to win it.’

I’m sticking with quotes for the subheads this week. This is from The Wire, but it’s also in a hilarious standup comedy bit from Aziz Ansari (watch it). I use it to reference the dirty nature of statistical analysis, and by dirty, I mean noisy. And by noisy, I mean the stuff that doesn’t add up completely. Recently, Nate McLouth said something really stupid about advanced statistical analysis that was praised by this writer at MLB.com. But it is important to note that there are things teams do to beat odds or to squeeze every bit of win potential from their team that don’t show up statistically. This is why a team like the Orioles, or the Royals, can outplay their Pythagorean win-loss or perform better than their statistics profile says they should because they will do things to win a lot of one-run games. That said, those statistics are still very valuable, and most often teams can’t maintain outperforming their major statistical outputs.

I bring this up because the Royals are 17-10. Yesterday, the most recent baseball reference update, they were 16-10, but their Pythagorean win-loss was 15-11. So, in essence, they have stolen a game. The Royals are now 7-4 in one-run games, and 3-0 in extra-inning games. Does that mean, they’re getting lucky and eventually that luck will run out? No, not necessarily. It could mean they’re a team that is well constructed to win close games. More likely, it means that they’re a team that has pitched really well and not hit much, which leads to close games. In some ways, sabermatricians look at outplaying one’s Pythagorean win-loss, or one’s statistical profile, as a bad thing because it suggests that a high win total isn’t sustainable. But the Royals will probably need to out perform their statistical profile in order to make a playoff push this year, only because they get a lot of value from areas that are tougher to measure. They get value defensively. They get value on the base paths. These are the advantages they hold over teams like the Tigers. Those areas are tougher to measure than the value of hitting home runs and striking people out, but they allow you to win tight games.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the “little things” are more important than smashing homeruns. They aren’t. But for the Royals, Life’s a dirty game. They gotta play dirty to win it.

‘We couldn’t do diddley-poo offensively.’

A classic Jim Mora sound byte. My personal favorite is “Playoffs,” but we’re not there yet. This is an obvious theme so I won’t spend much space on it: the Royals are scoring more runs lately. Before this week, they couldn’t do diddley-poo on offense. This week, they were shutout once to start the week but then scored eight, nine, two, and six runs respectively.

And like that, poof. He’s gone.’

Chris Getz!? Chris Getz!? Where are you!? Wait, I just remembered I don’t care. Getz has been MIA, and it’s been F-A-N-T-A-S-T-I-C. At first, Ned Yost fed the media some nonsense about allergies, which I had actually never heard before. What professional athlete misses a game because of allergies? These guys play through real injuries, and Getz can’t play because his eyes are itchy? The man plays on grass for a living. What’s he allergic to, extra-base hits? Walks? Hitting above .250? I thought the allergies thing was pretty funny. He started Saturday and Monday, but frankly Elliot Johnson and Miguel Tejada did a much better job in their turns at second base. They aren’t the answer but neither is Getz.

It’s been said before, but it’s Johnny Giavotella time. I know the arguments against, so no need to make them in the comments section. But at this point, Giavotella can’t be worse and has the potential to be much, much better.

That’s all for this week. Hopefully, next week I’ll be writing on the massive win streak the Royals are on.

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Tags: Kansas City Royals Mike Moustakas

  • jimfetterolf

    Giavotella can and has been worse, but congratulations on avoiding mentioning Frenchy and Hoch, that may be a first. Getz is second on the team in runs scored and one behind Perez, Hosmer, and Frenchy in RBIs. As runs on the scoreboard have something to do with the game, I think those numbers important and they suggest value. He’ll have to do until Colon or Navarro are ready.

    As for statistics, they’re fine as long as they are weighted to the moment and for what they are able to quantify. The failing is there are things they can’t quantify and, in the case of defense, that they quantify so poorly as to be laughable, like last year when Esky was supposedly a terrible SS and this year when Frenchy has 4x the fld that Cain does. Lot of value to stats and teams use them along with the eyeballs, which is why the Royals picked up Paulino and Guthrie.

    • Marcus Meade

      Thanks for the read and the passionate comment. I’m just going to throw out some numbers for Chris Getz: 2013 (.229/.250/.357), Career 1,384 PA (.255/.311/.318). That’s an OPS of .607 this year and .629 for his career. That’s in 1,384 plate appearances, which means there is no mystery as to what he is. At 29 years old and that many plate appearance, he is those numbers. In 376 PA, which is just a bit more than half a season–broken up over two seasons mind you–Giavotella’s numbers: (.242/.271/.340). He is 25 years old. I know I won’t convince you that Giavotella is the better player. He is, but there are beliefs we hold so deeply that nothing can convince us otherwise (I was completely convinced that Mark Prior would win multiple Cy Youngs and lead the Cubs to multiple postseasons).

      At the same time, I don’t know anyone who thinks that Giavotella has played to his potential. I also don’t know anyone who thinks Getz has better years ahead of him. Getz is what he is, but we have yet to find out what Giavotella is. We know Getz is generously replacement level thanks to his average defense and good baserunning.

      It’s a question of risk/reward. The risk of bringing up Giavotella to replace Getz is very small because the odds of him performing worse than Getz are so small they’re subatomic. If Giavotella plays the same as Getz, then you’ve swapped one replacement level player for another who is 4 years younger and less injury prone. That means there is very little risk. If Giavotella hits to the potential he has shown in AAA, tough, then they’ve just received a tremendous reward. The Royals will have upgraded second base, a glaring weakness in their lineup. They’ve turned a weakness into a weapon.