Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
It’s been a rough week for the Royals. Last weekend’s sweep at the hands of the Tigers was about as lopsided as it possibly could be, and while they finally broke their 5-game losing streak last night, they still need a win today in order to win the series against the lowly Padres. Outside of efforts from Yordano Ventura and Jeremy Guthrie – again, facing the Padres – the starting rotation has been getting beaten over the head with a bat of regression. And members of the front office haven’t exactly made things easy on themselves.
– There were a couple of articles that came out in recent days that contained some, quite frankly, foolish quotes from Royals’ officials. The first was from Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star, who quoted multiple officials as saying the team receives more love outside of Kansas City than from local fans. Those comments don’t bother me that much personally, but regardless, acting incredulous because fans who haven’t seen a playoff appearance in nearly 3 decades aren’t kissing your feet after a 3rd place finish in the division isn’t going to be received well in the public eye.
– The 2nd article is from FOX Sports Kansas City’s Jeffrey Flanagan, who has quotes from Dayton Moore saying the team’s biggest problem is hitting with runners in scoring position. While it’s true the team has underperformed there, he also says they’ve gotten plenty of baserunners, which is simply not true, shown by their .306 on-base percentage (13th in the AL). Moore could have simply said the team isn’t hitting well at all, and he’d be right. But by specifying the RISP situations, it seems he ignored what’s more important, which is getting runners on base. More baserunners, even with the lineup’s current rate stats, would produce more runs. I understand where Moore was coming from with these quotes, but he took it a step further than necessary, and fans did not react kindly.
– On a more positive front, David Lesky of Pine Tar Press did some excellent research on Billy Butler‘s recent stretch of hitting, and the numbers suggest we’re seeing the Billy Butler of old, hitting line drives and driving the baseball. Butler obviously doesn’t have the season-long numbers we’d like to see, but his swing looks better, and he certainly appears to be on the right track.
– Over at KC Kingdom, Aaron Reese wrote about some optimistic comparisons for Mike Moustakas, bringing up several players who struggled mightily early on, only to eventually become All Stars. While I think the Royals do need to consider demoting Moose right now because his offense is hurting the team, the comps Reese brings up are intriguing, and at least allows for the tiniest sliver of hope for the future.
– At Minor League Ball, Lee Warren posted some notes from an interview Omaha Storm Chasers radio announcer Mark Nasser did with the Royals Director of Baseball Analytics, Mike Groopman. Groopman explains a bit about how the team’s analytics department collects data, and how they collaborate with the scouts and coaching staff to come up with player evaluations and decisions. Obviously it can be difficult for them to be too transparent in the media with how their process works, but it is interesting to get a little bit of information on that side of the front office.
– Dave Cameron from FanGraphs notes that league-wide stolen base success rates are up in 2014, while also pointing out that base stealers appear to be more aggressive this season. Cameron suggests that this trend is related to the uptick in offensive performance from catchers. Teams appear to be less concerned with finding elite arms for their backstops, since the league had been less aggressive on the basepaths in the last couple of decades. The increased stolen base attempts can also partially be explained by the lack of power in this run-scoring environment. I doubt we’re going to see small ball take over MLB, but it is fascinating to see the league evolve and adapt as certain things change.