Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Royals Trade Dotel for Davies

The Salary number is a little rough, but for approximately $2.5 million, the Kansas City Royals got this from Octavio Dotel:

23 Innings Pitched
11 Saves
29 Strike Outs
3.94 ERA
Kyle Davies from the Braves

Who is Kyle Davies? There are two ways to answer this questions. First, with the quick and dirty stats: 4-8 record, 5.76 ERA, 6 strikeouts a game (decent), 4.4 walks (not good).

The other answer is simply "a right-handed version of Jorge De la Rosa."

To illustrate, I'm going to use a favorite stat called "Game Score."

From Baseball-Reference.com:
"This is a value created by Bill James that evaluates how good a pitcher's start was. Start with 50 points. Add 1 point for each out recorded, (or 3 points per inning). Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th. Add 1 point for each strikeout. Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed. Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed. Subtract 1 point for each walk."

The idea is that 50 is average, above 50 is a good start and below 50 is a bad start.

In descending order, here are the game scores for Davies and De la Rosa this season:
       De la
Davies Rosa
67 73
64 69
63 68
62 67
62 64
58 55
50 55
41 52
40 49
39 44
39 44
35 39
35 39
29 35
26 30
24 23
15 20
44 45

For what it's worth, Davies is also about 3 years younger than De la Rosa and at 23, has plenty of potential left in his arm.

Like De la Rosa, it all comes down to control. If the Royals coaching staff can manage to keep the new guy around the plate, he has the potential to be a strong contributer to the team.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Royals Week in Review - 7/20/07

After sticking it to the Red Sox, the Kansas City Royals prepare for a showdown with evil next week. But, before the Yankees come to Kauffman stadium, the boys in blue must first vanquish the front-running Detroit Tigers in the Motor City.

Ivan Rodriguez’s ninth inning homer must be avenged!

Month by Month
Thanks to the hard work of people like Sean Forman, hacks like me can find stats like this almost instantly:
       W   L   RS   RA   WP
April 8 18 99 132 .308
May 11 17 112 159 .393
June 15 12 145 117 .556
July 7 6 74 56 .538
Courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com

God, I love the internet.

As you can see, the Royals have turned into a winning ball club over the last two months. The results for July are difficult to judge, as the team hit a lucky stretch playing in Boston against two of the Beantowner’s lesser pitchers.

Playing on the road against the division leaders and then against a New York team that smells blood in the water should be a truer test of the progress the team has made.

Trading Deadline
Thanks to the internet age, pretty much every major leaguer can count on his name coming up in a trade rumor about this time of year. Both of my dead grandmothers have been linked to talks with the Cubs about a mid-level prospect.

The fact is, only Octavio Dotel is likely to get any serious scratch back for the Royals this season.

Dotel has a 3.15 ERA in 20 innings with the team this year, and it looks like bringing him back is not an option. If Dayton Moore can flip the Dominican for some top-level farm help, then his one-year contract will have been worth the gamble.

Future Stars
A quick refresher on some common stats I use.

AVG – Batting Average. Most people are familiar with this metric.
OBP – On Base Percentage. This takes into account walks and hit-by-pitches to give a better look at ability to get on base.
SLG – Slugging Average. This accounts for a player’s power by giving credit for each base reached with a hit. 1 for a single, 2 for a double, etc.

Currently, the American League is batting 269/340/419 (AVG/OBP/SLG).

Here is how some of the young players on the Royals stack up:

Billy Butler – 348/400/580 since being called up June 20th
Alex Gordon – 303/358/434 since the first of June
Mark Teahen – 366/487/548 with runners in scoring position
Joey Gathright – 315/390/370 before being sent down when Reggie Sanders came of the disabled list

Reggie Sanders is 377/450/623 on the season. AVAILABLE NOW!!! DIRT CHEAP!!!

Of course, Reginald is a career 267/343/489 hitter, which is nothing to sneeze at, but lends one to believe his current numbers may not hold up.

On the pitching side, there are several players to be excited about.

Brian Bannister – 3.87 ERA Ambriorix Burgos, whom the Royals traded straight-up for Bannister before the season, has put up decent numbers with the Mets as a reliever, but is currently on the disabled list.

Joakim Soria – 1.98 ERA Don’t forget, this guy through a perfect game in winter ball. Here’s hoping he won’t be relegated to the bullpen forever.

Jimmy Gobble – 2.67 ERA It’s easy to forget that Gobble is only 25 years old. His splits are heavily favored against left handed batters, but there’s something to be said for finding a role for a player who failed to meet expectations with regularity over the last four years.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Royals Week in Review - 7/14/07

Kansas City Royals come out of the All Star Break with a ton of momentum and a killer schedule. A few minor moves this week show that General Manager Dayton Moore may be warming up to be a player as the trade market heats up this month.

All Star Game
The Royals sent their $55 Million Man to San Francisco to represent this week. Mr. Meche's line:


Good work, Gil.

For a rundown of recent Royals in the mid-summer classic, check out Royals Review.

Perception vs. Reality
Now at the halfway point of the season, let's take a look at how the main players have compared to their pre-season projections.
OPS     Curr  Proj  Diff
Gthrght 796 665 19.70%
Buck 872 739 18.00%
Pena 668 573 16.58%
Grudz 749 709 5.64%
German 768 745 3.09%
DeJesus 783 786 -0.38%
Butler 767 786 -2.42%
Teahen 765 810 -5.56%
Gload 681 817 -16.65%
Gordon 679 834 -18.59%
Brown 608 781 -22.15%

ERA Curr Proj Diff
Soria 2.21 6.21 64.41%
Riske 2.21 4.36 49.31%
Gobble 2.70 5.17 47.78%
Banny 3.71 5.84 36.47%
Meche 3.54 4.90 27.76%
Peralta 3.64 4.50 19.11%
Dotel 3.50 4.17 16.07%
dlaRosa 5.16 5.55 7.03%
Greinke 4.63 4.76 2.73%
Perez 5.68 4.75 -19.58%

As you can see, the pitching staff has blown away the projections so far this year. There will most certainly be a regression to the mean for most of these pitchers, but the staff has already proven to be a bigger strength than most people expected.

The offense is a more of a mixed bag. John Buck has been in breakout mode for most of the year, still hitting for power even though his average has gone down. Tony Pena Jr. will most certainly come crashing back to earth, but the rest of the batters should be able to improve their stats as the second half rolls along.

Thug Royals
The GM started the trading season with a couple of minor moves, but both will affect the big league roster soon.

Aside from his pending charge for felonious assault, Roman Colon has put up decent stats in the minors and with Atlanta and Detroit. Out of options, he will need to be put on the 25 man roster next week.

Colon was used as a starter often early in his minor league career. One has to wonder if a few more bad outings by some of the team's lesser starters will put him in the prime scoring card location soon.

Jason Smith has already taken over the role of utility infielder on the team since being picked up from the Diamondbacks organization earlier this week.

Aside from a good season at AAA Colorado Springs last year, Smith has been exactly what you'd expect from a journeyman utility player.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Projecting the Second Half

As Independence Day nears, the Kansas City Royals have passed the midpoint of the season looking remarkably like a good baseball club the past month.

There will probably be many moves in the next month -- injured players returning, veterans getting traded, Buddy Bell giving Tony Pena Jr. a ten game shot at batting cleanup -- but for the moment, I want to focus on four numbers:

68, 72, 77 & 79

Sixty-Eight Wins
If you simply take the current winning percentage of the team and put it against 162 games, the final record will be 68-94.

Avoiding 100 losses is an accomplishment unto itself given the recent history of the franchise, but doesn't this team feel like it should win more than 68 games? After winning 62 games last year, a six game swing would be quite disappointing.

Seventy-Two Wins
I use the following formula to calculate "Pythagorean" wins:


Statheads generally look at Runs Scored (RS) and Runs Allowed (RA) as a "truer" picture of how well a team has played.

People much smarter than me have suggested that a factor of 1.78 is more accurate, or even a factor that changes depending on the scoring environment of a particular season. Me? I'm happy to just square everything up and go with that.

What that gives us is a team that is actually good for about 72 wins on the season. Still not remarkable, but markedly better than the 62 of Ought-Six.

Seventy-Seven & Seventy-Nine Wins
The team has been playing much better lately, and I wanted to give them credit for that. Luckily, I have way too much free time today because the whole world is already on vacation for the 4th of July, so I decided to look at the pythag record for the last ten games and the last twenty five.

This chart shows the season so far in terms of real wins and the various calculations.

As discussed in an earlier post, the "10 Day Py" line shows those stretches when the team really plays well (and when they don't). In contrast, the "25 Day Py" line is perhaps a better predictor of future performance as it takes into account a larger sampling of games.

Now, 10 and 25 are purely arbitrary numbers. I still think this provides a good snapshot as to how the season has really gone for the team. Two really good stretches, culminating in one of the better months the team has had since 2003.

If the team finishes out the year winning 53-55% of their games (as they have for the last 10 and 25, respectively), they will finish the season with 77-79 wins.

Those totals won't bring home any hardware, but they'll come from a young team that will remain intact and improving for the next several years.

That's something to cheer about.