It’s been a wild, wild week (both in the Royals universe and in this country). Anytime something shakes people the way the events in Boston did, things are not the same for a while. People start to wonder and worry. The media predictably calls on sports to be that thing that will return us to normalcy, but what happens when sports was a part of the thing that jerked us from contentment in the first place, i.e. a terrorist act at a sporting event? I actually have a lot of thoughts about sports and violence in society, but this isn’t the place. This is a blog about baseball, and in an attempt to aid the move back to a routine we all find so comfortable (hopefully never forgetting the price of that comfort or that many do not have the good fortune to experience it) I’ll proceed with baseball commentary and funny quips about Jeff Francoeur.
The Royals only played five games this week, which is a fairly rare thing in major league baseball, but it was a five game stretch that tested them against two of the hottest teams in baseball. What grade do they receive for this five-game gauntlet of scorching hot oppenents? A-. Why? Because they went 3-2 against the Braves and Red Sox on the road under really tough conditions. They’d get an A if Kelvin Herrera hadn’t given up that three-run bomb to lose the game Saturday. This brings their overall record to 10-7, tops in the AL Central by a full game.
Now, onto some themes of this week:
April 08, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals first basemen Eric Hosmer (35) at bat against the Minnesota Twins during the third inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
Hosmer? I barely know ’er.
I came to a realization the other day while watching Eric Hosmer flail at a fastball: he can’t hit fastballs right now. So, I started watching pretty carefully, and I put on my amateur hitting instructor cap. I determined that Hosmer looks late on every fastball because his load either 1) takes way too long OR 2) starts too late. I don’t have fancy GIFs to show you, but go back and watch some of his at-bats this year. He starts his load when the pitchers already released the ball and consequently is behind fastballs that aren’t anything special. As most of us know, and as Brian Henry so wisely pointed out in this post, he’s actually doing a great job swinging at good hitter’s pitches. He’s just not squaring them up; a lot of this is do to his tardiness on fastballs, which he keeps fouling off.
This analysis actually mirrors the conclusion of Clint Scoles over at Pinetarpress.com in his post about Bubba Starling, which is interesting. Starling is, of course, much further behind in his development so it’s not surprising that he’s struggling even more mightily than Hosmer, but there issues seem to be similar.
For Hosmer, it could be a timing thing, maybe he needs to start his load sooner. It could be a mechanics thing, maybe he needs to shorten the path of his load. Whatever it is, it’d be nice to see it fixed very, very soon.
CountryBreakfast is eating lean
Billy Butler is stumbling a little right now, but I don’t think anyone is too worried. If you dive into the numbers, there’s nothing that suggests we should be super worried. He’s not striking out any more than usual; he’s just not getting hits. His BABIP right now is .212*. Part of that is certainly of his own doing. His ground ball rate is 57.1 percent, which is about 10 percent above his norm, and with his speed, groundballs are not the best option. Just from watching the games, it seems like he’s getting behind the count more often. This might be the result of pressing or of pitchers not giving him anything good to hit, knowing the Royals have been ice cold from the four spot this year.
I think he’ll be fine.
*Roughly, these numbers were before Sunday because Fangraphs wasn’t updated yet. Butler did hit a clutch homerun in the second game of the double header, but didn’t impress much otherwise.
The true colors of Francetz
There it is. We’re used to that old tune. It’s familiar and comforting, like the Bossa Nova or “The Thong Song”. For a moment, Chris Getz and Francoeur were playing a trick on us, letting us believe they were going to behave like real, major league ball players. But now, we see their true colors. After warm starts, the two have struggled this week, and are now sporting shiny OBPs of .281 (Francoeur) and .240 (Getz). Getz has apparently decided that taking a walk is beneath him (he’s a power hitter now), and consequently hasn’t taken one yet this season. These two players are another example of a decision the Yost-Moore tandem will have to make, and that decision will say a lot about their development as decision makers.
That’s all for this short week. There were other great things (LoCain, Santana, etc.), but a world fully explored is a world without possibility.