One thing the Royals have been slow to reveal over the last couple seasons is their final weapon out of the bullpen. They have a guy who can come in and consistently get outs. He can finish games and hold the fort for the offense to rally. He is one man, but goes by two names.
Mitch Maier is the saintly man who comes in and finishes games that no one else wants to. He runs in like a beacon of light from the outfield, shining down on the mound. We are all witnesses.
But what sort of arsenal does Mitch have? His pitches are so befuddling to batters that even Pitch F/X doesn’t know what to do with them. According to those stats, Mitch’s main pitch is a 77 MPH changeup, which he must use to throw off batters for his 80 MPH slider. But just when you think you’ve got him figured out, he’ll throw a 73 MPH knuckleball or a 72 MPH curve. You just never know what’s coming when Mitch is pitching. Batters are always caught off guard by the curve, which has a 25% whiff rate!
And if you think his methods are fairly rudimentary, behold the results! Mitch has allowed only 2 hits in his career, finishing off games and keeping those dastardly opponents from reaching home. He’s even induced a double play to go with two flyouts, a lineout, and another groundout. Again, those are simply results that cannot be fooled with.
Now, if you think his pitch types may be off, you can go by the FanGraphs definition, which says he throws a 76 MPH fastball and a 70 MPH curve. Not since the days of Jamie Moyer and Tim Wakefield have we seen the craftiness that Mitch shows on the mound.
With their new secret pitching weapon comes a new batting weapon as well! Mitch’s line of .267/.353/.467 is much higher than the Royals’ overall line of .254/.299/.407 this season, and he accounts for an eighth of the team’s home runs and roughly a 10th of their walks! This is truly a man not to be trifled with.
So, beware, opponents of the Kansas City Royals, for when you see that number 12 white or royal blue or powder blue or gray jersey on its way to the field, your night will soon come to an abrupt end. That man is Mitch Maier, and he is the heart and soul of the Royals.
*Alternative title: “The Downside of Trusting the Stats People Show in Blogs”
This post really had three reasons. One reason was recognizing that Mitch is warranting playing in the place of Lorenzo Cain right now, as (as far as I can tell) he hasn’t had any negative effects on the team. If the team starts batting better…we’ll talk. But as of right now, he should play.
The second reason is to recognize that Mitch is a unique guy. He doesn’t sit and grumble and whine about being on the bench. When he pinch hits, he’s completely in the game. Mitch is a Royal, and he’s a part of the team. You just have to appreciate that he sticks through everything and gives the Royals more options in the outfield that won’t hurt the team too much when the starters are out.
And finally, this highlights that the Royals are tough to watch right now. I had a free trial of MLB Extra Innings through Sunday, and you would thus expect that I’d voraciously absorb every minute of every game. But I found myself changing channels in disgust or turning the game off for a while altogether. I always come back, but I’ve never been so frustrated with the team. And that’s what comes with higher expectations. Fans should expect more, and the team is capable of more. So, why isn’t there more happening on the field? It’s a bigger question than I’m going to face here, but those stats above and the fact that Mitch is a high point for me should make it clear that this team needs to get its act together. We should expect more. And we should be seeing more.
Now, Mitch just needs to ride in on a stallion and lead the boys into battle. Maybe that would help. But for the time being, I guess we need to be patient. Years can start rough, but there are over 150 more games to be played. We’re just getting started.
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