First Post: A Royal's wrap-up written in October
Hi Guys! It is late but here is my year end wrapup on the Royals. Glass half full guy would say that without two awful, nearly identical 3-18 stretches, the Royals would have won 94 games and the division. Glass half empty guy would say that without a great June and September, they would have lost over 100 games again. Well, in baseball, you end up pretty close to what you are. The Royals were a team whose offense ranged from OK to abysmal, and whose pitching and D ranged from pretty good to pretty bad. When their pitching was pretty bad and their offense was abysmal, they couldn’t buy a win. When their pitching was pretty good and their offense was OK, they looked like a contender. In truth they overachieved slightly, as a team who scored and let up the amount of runs they did would win an average of 71.13 games, and they won 75.
- Trey Hillman and staff: It generally takes more than 1 year for a manager to find his way in the Majors, so I will not be too hard on Trey. He seemed to take a long time to figure out that he did not have the team speed that he wanted (or the bunters) but he seemed to come to the realization of what kind of team he had as the year went along. He has a slow hook with his pitching staff, and (like most managers) sometimes seemed to pay more attention to the pitch count rather than the pitchers themselves. He used his bullpen well when he used it, save for his waffling over whether to bring in Soria early. He went both ways on that, and when asked about it, always acted as if his decision were obvious. There were times his lineups made no sense, but ALL managers of a poor offensive team seem to try things that are, well, a little crazy. My favorite thing about him is that he recognized that he had a problem at hitting coach and at third base coach. Mike Barnett has seemed, throughout his tenure here, to jack with hitters that are going well, but ignore problems that are obvious even to morons like myself. (An example of this was Gordon in 2007. He was quite obviously setting up way too close to the plate, and could not hit the inside pitch, as he was too close. It is a common problem with hitters in their first year after college with aluminum bats. He saw nothing but inside pitches, as the scouting reports circulated. 2 months into the season, he was hitting .150 and leading the league in hit by pitches. An example of the other is changing everything about John Buck in 2007 because even though John seemed to have found something, he didn’t like the way he was doing it.) Most hitters under Barnett either regressed or didn’t progress very quickly. Luis Silverio just didn’t have a clue at third base. It wasn’t just whether people were caught, it was that he seemed to be unaware of the game situation. Twice this year on TV, I saw him send a guy (who ended up being dead meat) in our last at bat when we were down TWO runs. In that situation, only the 2nd run means anything. You conserve your outs and maybe take a chance with the tying run. I also saw him be ultimately conservative, when I thought we could have scored, with what would have been a late inning insurance run, or the tying or go ahead run. He seemed to do the opposite of what the game called for as well as misjudging the play itself. I thought these 2 were the weak coaching links all year, and I am glad Trey agreed. (The Royals just hired Kevin Seitzer as hitting coach.) The 2 most worrisome things were first that he seemed to a couple of times lose control over his clubhouse. This is a big part of a manager’s job. The other was a statement he made the last week of the season. It had to do with the Royals not hitting as many Home Runs as other teams because they played in a big park. This is complete crap, and I am worried that he doesn’t get how big of a problem the lack of power is. The Royals outhit their opponents by 34 hits, and had virtually the same amount of extra bases added through doubles, triples, stolenbases, and HBP. (actually slightly more) So why did they score 90 runs less than their opponents? They have 2 MAJOR deficits, and they are not because of the pitching staff (Although we did have a lot of wild pitches- is that the pitchers or catchers?) We hit 39 less homers than we gave up (playing in the same park). This could be up to a 78 run difference (probably not that much because in this scenario, we hit singles in those situations, but it is minimum a 39 run difference, and probably closer to the 78). We also walked an ASTOUNDING 123 times less than our opponents, despite our pitching staff giving up less walks than the average team. We walked 25 times less than the worst of the other AL teams. This has been a problem for the Royals for some time and is an organizational deficiency. We got on base in other ways 43 times more than other teams but 43 – 123 is an 80 baserunner deficit. Power and walks are the difference between the Royals and a breakthrough.
- Notes on selected pitchers: Gil Meche-Gil is what he is. Not an ace, but a very good innings eating #2. He is still worth the contract they gave him. We will have to overpay somewhat until we get better. Zach Greinke – The Royals need to lock Zach up. He was their best starter this year. He used to remind me of Danny Jackson in that I could always tell what kind of day he was going to have after watching 1 inning (2 at the most). However, towards the end of the year, he really seemed to learn to pitch through not having his good stuff. A major breakthrough! Brian Bannister-Brian is not as bad as he was this year, not as good as 2007. The middle Brian would be a good 4th starter or a great 5th starter. He will probably be #4 on our team because Kyle Davies, a pitcher I gave up on a year ago, was a COMPLETELY different pitcher at the end of the year. I mean unrecognizable. If the lightbulb really came on for him, and it continues next year, it will be a HUGE boon for the Royals. He stopped walking people, nibbling and acting like he didn’t belong. He was really in command. Luke Hochevar is young enough that he might not be a bust. Right now he is an inconsistent sinkerballer, not enough control to get K’s or avoid walks. When he doesn’t sink, they hit line drives. I dream of the Royals picking Tim Lincecum with that pick. Ramon Ramirez & Ron Mahay are the type of guys that make a team better without much fanfare. Dayton Moore seems to understand how to build a bullpen. Leo Nunez-The little rooster is an injury waiting to happen every year, but is effective when healthy. Sometimes I giggle to myself when I watch his arms and legs going everywhere, falling off the mound. He gives his all. Robinson Tejada has great stuff but needs control. A lot of potential. Brandon Duckworth is an OK long reliever and emergency starter. Joel Peralta will probably again be traveling up & down I-29. Joel is listed at 5-11. If he is 5-11, I’m not short. I love watching John Buck stand next to him. Makes him look like a hobbit. Jimmy Gobble was awful. Could not find the strike zone and then tried to guide it in, throwing hits. He might be done. I hope not to see him or Yabuta next year. The Royals will probably take another look at John Bale next year, and he will probably be injured before the season. Lastly Joakim Soria is a godsend. The Mexicutioner allowed 59 baserunners and 12 earned runs in 67.1 innings. Hitters hit .169, slugged .255 and had an OBP of .248 against him. That, my friends, is Domination.
- Runs created per 27 outs:Created by Bill James, this stat rates a players offensive prowess.
- Albert Pujols (Is anyone surprised) led the majors with a 10.46. The best right handed hitter I have ever seen.
- The American League average was 4.83, the Royals finished at 4.28, Oakland had the AL bottom with 4.00, Texas was best with 5.72.
The Royals follow in order of the number of plate appearances:
Jose Guillen: 633 plate appearances, 467 outs, 69.57 runs created, 4.02 RC/27. We are stuck with Jose next year. His 97 rbi’s are an example of why that is an overated stat. He had the most plate appearances in the prime hitting spot, but the homers and doubles did not make up for the absurd # of outs. He also does not walk. That being said, as Jose goes, so go the Royals. His two hot streaks coincide almost perfectly with the Royals hot streaks. He was not the team’s first choice, and they overpaid, (as they might have to again for someone to help make up the power gap until they develop their own) and he is an ass, but if he were to have a good year next year, the Royals would be better.
- Mark Teahen: 623 PA’s, 437 outs, 71.56 RC, 4.42 RC/27. Mark finished 3rd on the Royals with 15 homers. He did not walk as much this year, and had his worst rate. On a good team Mark would be an all corner(OF and IF) supersub and left handed pinch hitter. If he ever becomes that for us, we’ll know we are making offensive progress. As of now, he is better at 3 of those 4 positions than the alternatives. Great baserunner, smart player.
- David Dejesus: 577 PA’s, 385 outs, 84.82 RC, 5.93 RC/27. David finished first in runs created on the Royals and had a superb year. I wish he could learn to steal bases. He is a part of the future.
- Alex Gordon: 571 PA’s, 381 outs, 75.88 RC, 5.38 RC/27. Alex is starting to get it. He had a better 2nd half again and is starting to walk at a high rate. Be patient, he is coming into his own and will have a breakthrough year soon.
- Billy Butler: 478 PA’s 347 outs, 51.31 RC, 3.99 RC/27. Fatkid is not getting it and clearly regressed this year. You quite simply cannot afford to have your DH have this lack of production. Butler is an example of small market teams force feeding their draft picks for name value. He should be finishing up a 2nd minor league year having gotten in shape and honed his first base skills. Still 22, he could have the light go on and get better, but he might be into his 2nd contract before it happens. Perhaps Seitzer can help him.
- Mike Aviles: 441 PA’s, 300 outs, 66.10 RC, 5.95 RC/27. Aviles was the Royals offensive MVP this year. He is an example of the very type of player that gets overlooked because he wasn’t a “prospect”. His RC/27 is the highest on the team, and you see he created almost as many runs as Guillen in almost 200 less PA’s. I wish he would walk more, but with an unlooked for find like this, that is nitpicking. Also, this may be a news flash, but he became a pretty good SS in the field as the year went on. When I saw him field at the beginning, I said we needed a SS and to move him to 2nd, but now any good middle infielder will do. He doesn’t have SS natural tools, but he works and is at least an average fielder at this point.
- John Buck: 418 PA’s, 306 outs, 37.63 RC, 3.32 RC/27. I wish John would try to get the groove Mike Barnett stole back. John actually walks at an OK rate, but that & the occasional homer is all that he is offensively. The Royals have a decision to make with him and Olivo. (Who hits better but never walks) I suppose it will come down to who they think handles the staff better. Olivo obviously throws out runners better. A book I will receive in the offseason usually has ERA’s while that player is catching. I will be interested to compare the 2 of them.
- Ross Gload: 418 PA’s, 302 outs, 40.72 RC, 3.64 RC/27. Ross was overexposed. You also cannot have a first baseman who has this kind of lack of production. If Ross is on a team he should be like the 24th guy on the roster, not coming to bat 418 times.
- Mark Grudzielanek: 360 PA’s, 246 outs, 44.63 RC, 4.90 RC/27. Mark was valuable when he was healthy. He had a good year, though it may be his last with us. Back problems have a tendency to not go away. Grudz is one of those players you only appreciate when you see him play every day. I was not excited when the team first got him, but he is a ballplayer and I will miss him.
- Miguel Olivo: 317 PA’s, 235 outs, 35.34 RC, 4.06 RC/27. Miguel seems (just from the naked eye, not from stats) to be a better hitter against lefties. It is too bad he and Buck are both right handed. He is a good hitter for a catcher, and has a rocket arm, but he only had 5 unintentional walks this year.
- Joey Gathright: 315 PA’s, 227 outs, 29.11 RC, 3.46 RC/27. It boggles my mind that there were people wanting him to take Dejesus’ spot this year. He is not a starter. A 5th OF at best.
- Esteban German: 242 PA’s, 178 outs, 22.39 RC, 3.40 RC/27. Esteban actually had a good 2nd half, but his first half was so bad he could not overcome it. He was better when (thru necessity) he actually was given some playing time. He walked less this year, maybe because when you don’t play much, you hack more.
- Tony Pena Jr.: 235 PA’s, 196 outs, 4.37 RC, 0.60 RC/27. I cannot think of anyone who has ever had a worse offensive year with at least 162 PA’s. If you have any ideas, Email me with the name and year and I will run the numbers. Oh, and he didn’t field well either. I would like to never see him in the uniform again.
- Alberto Callaspo: 234 PA’s, 157 outs, 29.63 RC, 5.10 RC/27. This is probably Alberto’s best. A player with such a complete lack of power has to hit over .300 with some walks to get to this #. That being said, he is a great backup, and though you might not want him to be your starter, it wouldn’t kill you.
- Mitch Maier: 97 PA’s, 72 outs, 8.42 RC, 3.16 RC/27. Mitch is an emergency fill in, nothing more.
- Ryan Shealy: 79 PA’s, 53 outs, 14.27 RC, 7.27 RC/27. Ryan at least made me enough of a believer to want to see him again next year. His first few homers were against soft tossers, but he showed a new tendency not to try and pull everything (and be late doing it). Then I saw him rope a 98 mph fastball out to the opposite field. It was something I did not see last year. He is 29 and probably not going to be nearly as good as he was in September, but he would be better than Gload or probably Butler in the short term.
- Jason Smith: 28 PA’s, 23 outs, 0.99 RC, 1.16 RC/27. An emergency fill in. No Value.
- Kila Kaaihue: 24 PA’s, 15 outs, 3.73 RC, 6.71 RC/27.Kila is 24. He has power. He walks A LOT. He should have a fair shot to be the starting 1st baseman next year.
- Matt Tupman and the Pitchers: 28 PA’s, 24 outs, 0.75 RC, 0.84 RC/27. I lump Matt in with the pitchers, because he still has only had the one at bat (a single), even though he was called up in September. Matt, please don’t mess with perfection. He also brings the pitchers RC/27 above Tony Pena’s.
- In Closing: If you add up all the runs created you will come up with 691.02. The Royals scored 691 runs this year.