Friday, June 29, 2007

Royals Week in Review - 06/29/07

Having swept the California Angels of Southern Antiqua, the Kansas City Royals look to the Chicago White Sox, a team that is one bad weekend away from taking over the cellar position the Royals have held for so long.

As this weekend will mark the halfway point of the season, let's take a look at some of the notable stats from the first 79 games.

Offense & Defense
Mo   RS   RA   OPS  ERA
Apr 3.8 5.1 700 4.32
May 4.0 5.7 699 5.27
Jun 5.4 4.5 730 4.30

The offense has shown dramatic improvement in the last month, while the pitching has come back strong after an off month in May. Even the defense has stepped it up from the first month of the season, with only 5% of runs allowed being unearned in June, compared to 17% in April.


Reggie Sanders will probably end the season as the team leader in OPS (On-Base Percentage + Slugging Average) as long as his sore hammy keeps him on the disabled list. These are the top three players looking to take over his 1.059 showing.
Buck      907
Gathright 851
Teahen 795

Even better for the Royals, the hot hands in June all look to play a significant role in the team's future.
OPS June
DeJesus 885
Gordon 885
Buck 880
Gathright 851

Joey Gathright has been getting on base at a .446 clip since his call up on June 6. While he does only have three extra base hits, the speedster has also stolen five bags while only getting caught once.

From a pitching standpoint, the relief staff has an overall ERA of 4.06 compared to the starters at 4.95.

A look at June ERA shows that while the bullpen has really been heating up, the rotation still needs some serious work.
ERA June
Soria 0.00
Riske 1.42
Peralta 2.08
Dotel 2.53

Banny 3.00
Meche 3.98
DL Rosa 6.41
Perez 6.66
Elartn 11.15

Gil Meche has slipped a little, but still looks like a win for Dayton Moore, while Brian Bannister has held his own.

De La Rosa is a fantastic pitcher to have if the game were still being played without stadium lights (a 3-0 record in day games); Odalis Perez is looking a lot like the devil, and Scott Elarton can stay in Omaha forever as far as I'm concerned.

Winners & Losers
Thanks to the wonderful stats over at Fangraphs (track a game live and see how your emotions look in a line chart), we can see who has contributed the most to the Royals wins and losses this year.

The stat Winning Percentage Added (WPA) gives credit for every play made that increases or decreases a teams chance at winning a game. As such, it puts greater importance on plays made late in a game, where the outcome of the game becomes more certain.

Team WPA
Offense -5.43
Starters -2.15
Relief +1.08

Most observers believed that Kansas City getting a reliable bullpen would be a sign of the apocalypse. No four horsemen yet, but keep your eyes peeled.

Individual WPA
Soria 1.40
Grienke 1.27

Meche 0.95

DeJesus 0.54
Teahen 0.52

Elartn -1.18
Pena -2.04

After some poor outings as a starter, Zack Grienke has ratcheted up his WPA by getting some big strikeouts as a reliever. Soria has been an absolute steal for the team, and one wonders if they shouldn't begin stretching him out to be a starter like Minnesota did with Johan Santana.

The two guys who have hurt the team most have one distinct difference: fielding. While TPJ may flail away at the plate like a tee baller facing the high school kids, he has flashed some pretty good leather this season, something that isn't accounted for much in these numbers.

Scott Elarton just stinks. One good outing in AAA will not convince me otherwise.

A young offense is coming around, and the bullpen has been a revelation. Dayton Moore must continue adding to the starting rotation. That is the key to this team becoming a threat in the American League in the very near future.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

MLB Piques My Interest in Women's Apparel

First of all, let me say that I love my wife.

Let me also say that it is easily apparent this is a photoshop job, as I found the same picture for all MLB teams with the logo switched out.

Lastly, for the record: I don't care. As somebody who grew up on "Who's the Boss," watched "Charmed" in spite of the ridicule from my roommate, and recorded the episode of "Spin City" when Alyssa Milano played the mayor's daughter (watch, and you'll know why), this photo is a dream come true.

Now, if I can only win the contest without my wife leaving me.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Royals Week in Review - 6/22/07

Something happened to the Kansas City Royals bats around June first. I don't know what it is, but after losing seven in a row, the boys in blue have pretty much taken Pythag out behind the woodshed the last few weeks.

The following chart has two lines:

The RED line represents the Royals running pythagorean record based on runs scored and runs allowed as the season progresses.

The BLUE line is a rolling ten game snapshot of their pythagorean record.

Basically, the blue line spikes whenever the team has a particularly good stretch of games (e.g. putting 17 runs on the board in the space of five days), and drops when they struggle (the aforementioned seven game losing streak).

The Royals are currently riding their second wave of sustained success. It's good to see the team bounce back after that disheartening stretch in May, but the real key to sustained improvement lies in the moves General Manager Dayton Moore makes between now and the trading deadline.

Addition by Subtraction
Whoever kicked Scott Elarton in the ankle is this month's MVP if you ask me. 2-3 with a 9.17 ERA in eight starts? I watched him pitch against the Cardinals the other night and I'm pretty sure I could have taken him yard, his stuff was so bad.

Despite Joe Posnanski's push for a four-man rotation, the Royals have signed John Thompson to take Elarton's place in the rotation.

The Royals opted for Thomson after choosing to keep Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria in the bullpen. They also resisted any inclination to promote any of their three top pitching prospects: Billy Buckner, Luke Hochevar and Tyler Lumsden.

While I'd like to see Grienke get another shot at the rotation, I'm okay with this move right now, as Zack seems to have found a groove coming out of the bullpen.

Thompson is your standard issue fourth starter, with a career ERA of 4.69 with four different teams. As seems to be the case with many of Moore's moves, he had some success in Atlanta, going 14-8 with a 3.72 ERA in 2004.

Sweeney Out
I'm done with jokes about Mike Sweeney's ailing back and annual trips to the disabled list. He will leave as one of the most productive hitters in Royals history and one of the most frustrating. I think big Mike's heart really was dedicated to making the Royals a better team, but his body could not shoulder the strain.

Thus, young Billy Ray will be getting another chance to taste the bright lights and lavish buffets of big league baseball. The Royals have officially taken the glove away from their top prospect, but plan to give him an opportunity to impress with the stick.
Butler will pinch-hit the next five games and then DH every day until Sweeney returns. KC considered other players but Butler was the only option who was on the 40-man roster that could be called up and then sent back to Minors without passing through waivers.

Now that Alex Gordon is hitting like the hype (333/361/507 since June 1st), the Royals young offense may be exciting to watch the next few months.

All Star Voting
Personally, I'd like to see John Buck named as the Royals representative at the upcoming All-Star game. He has been the team's most productive hitter, looks like a bad-ass with his new hair do, and maybe it would force the team to stop making their All Star split time with Jason LaRue.

As it is, the Royals will probably have to settle for one of their pitchers milling around the bullpen in San Francisco, waiting for the chance to serve up a Barry Bonds homer in front of the home crowd.

If that's the case, then Jim Leyland would have to give Gil Meche his top consideration. Despite last night's wobbly start, Meche has been everything the Royals could have hoped for so far this year, and thanks to his contract, he is a name some people might have heard of.

I could see Leyland giving the nod to David Riske. He's go an ERA under three and was nice enough to serve up that game winning homer to Ivan Rodriguez on April 8th.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Royals Week in Review - 6/8/07

The Kansas City Royals decided to take a week off from playing baseball, reflect on the lives they’ve led and generally kill any positive momentum from taking eight of ten contests before their big slide.

How badly did the recent seven game losing streak suck?

Here it is in sparkline form (Black bars are games decided by more than two runs):

On May 23, the Royals stood at 19-28, on pace for 65 wins and looking like a team with a future.

After failing to play even a close game for a week, they had a 19-35 record and were once again staring down 100 losses.

We won’t examine the run differentials during the losing streak because some people read this blog over lunch.

On to the week that was.

The Draft
Royals Authority has a nice breakdown of the Royals picks from the first day of the draft.

Dayton Moore’s focus was mostly on high school pitchers. Given that the roster he put together for this season is currently running neck in neck with Texas and Cincinnati for the worst record in baseball, I think it’s fair to say that Dayton has a strong affinity for young boys.

RIP: Angel Berroa’s Career.

While it’s true that the hack master may clear waivers and put enough balls in play at AAA to get another call up, I’m still willing to put good money on Berroa’s career with the Royals being over.

to replace the former rookie of the year.

Gathright has been an on-base machine at Omaha this year, getting on at a .456 clip. He has already stolen two bases in two games with the Royals, so it looks like Buddy Bell is planning to use his new toy often.

Joakim Soria has also returned from the disabled list. The plan for now is to have him set up closer Octavio Dotel, but if OD keeps putting 2.5 runners on for every save he gets, the young Mexican may soon find himself finishing ball games again.

John Buck
The Hardball Times has a nice look at the big catcher’s season so far. Conclusion: Buddy Bell is an idiot for sitting him two out of every five games.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Royals Week in Review - 6/1/07

There's nothing much you can say about getting outscored 856 to 12 or whatever it ended up being while losing seven games in a row, so let's just drop it for this week.