Can Kila Ka'aihue hit a Curveball?

56 PA, 8 for 46, 10 9 walks (and a sac fly), 15 strikeouts. 3 extra base hits (none since April 6th). Through the shaky start to Kila Kaaihue's season, it seems as if pitchers don't throw him any fastballs. It's almost like there's an obvious hole in Kila's game that hitting guru Kevin Seitzer hasn't fixed yet.

In 56 PA, Kila has seen 213 pitches. He let 134 go by, 89 for balls and 45 for strikes. He swung at 79, missing 26 times and making contact 53 times (21 foulballs, 24 outs, and 8 hits). A split of 63% to 37% in favor of letting a pitch go by.

As for the first pitch, 28 times it has been a ball, 22 times it has been a strike looking, 2 strikes swinging, 3 balls hit into play (all for outs), 2 fouls. Or in other terms, Kila has swung at the first pitch 8 times in 56 PA.

(note: There's a 2 pitch unofficial PA that ended with Billy Butler being thrown out on a stolen base being counted here, so if you take out swinging at a curveball and missing and letting a fastball go for a ball, you get 7 swings in 56 PA)

But what do you throw a slumping hitter?

Kila has seen 104 fastballs so far in 2011. 43 were balls. 20 were strikes looking, 5 were strikes swinging, 36 were hit (14 foulballs, 6 hits, 16 outs).

Kila has seen 109 non-fastballs so far. 46 were balls, 25 were strikes looking, 21 were strikes swinging, 17 were hit (7 foulballs, 2 hits, 8 outs).

So 80% of the pitches he swung at and missed were not fastballs.

What did he see on the first pitch?

29 first pitch fastballs and 28 non-fastballs.

Of the fastballs, 12 were balls, 13 were strikes looking, 3 were hit into play, and 1 foul ball.

Of the non-fastballs, 16 balls, 9 strikes looking, 2 strikes swinging, and 1 foul ball

But back to the strikes swinging, an account of what he swung at and missed.

Fastballs missed: 86mph (Weaver), 97mph (Thornton), 90mph (Scherzer), 89mph (Porcello), 90mph (Porcello)

Nonfastballs missed: 77mph changeup (Weaver), 86mph cutter (Haren), 85mph cutter (Haren), 85mph splitter (Haren), 81mph slider (Santana), 85mph changeup (Floyd), 81mph slider (Sale), 82mph slider (Sale), 84mph slider (Santos), 81mph changeup (Buerhle), 76mph curve (Coke), 76mph curve (Coke), 78mph curve (Coke), 79mph slider (Coke), 89mph slider (Gonzalez), 89mph slider (Gonzalez), 88mph sinker (Pauley), 89mph changeup (Hernandez), 89mph changeup (Hernandez), 87mph slider (Pineda), and a 87mph slider (Pineda)

If Kila Ka'aihue had nightmares, they'd involve Phil Coke.

Including the Phil Coke game and since that game, Kila has seen 94 pitches, 37 fastballs and 57 offspeed pitches, in 24 PA. A  reversal from the first 32 PA where he saw 67 fastballs and 52 non-fastballs.

During this reversal of strategy, Kila has 3 singles, 7 strikeouts, and 4 walks.

Strike Threes to Kila: 77mph changeup, swinging (Weaver), 85mph cutter, swinging (Haren), 85mph splitter, swinging (Haren), 81mph slider, swinging (Santana), 85mph changeup, swinging (Floyd), 82mph slider, swinging (Sale), 84mph slider, swinging (Santos), 81mph changeup, swinging (Buerhle), 76mph curve, swinging (Coke), 76mph curve, swinging (Coke), 79mph slider, swinging (Coke), 90mph fastball, swinging (Porcello), 89mph slider, swinging (Gonzalez), 89mph changeup, swinging (Hernandez), 87mph slider, swinging (Pineda)

Not a misprint, every one of the 15 strikeouts has been swinging. Zero "strike 3 lookings" for Kila. He swung and missed 26 times, and 15 of them were for the 3rd strike.

But can he hit a curveball?!!!?!?!!??!

The curveball thing springs from people who really enjoyed Major League. Kila has seen 25 curveballs so far with 19 coming during/after the Phil Coke experience. Coke threw 6 curves to Kila, racking up 6 strikes. Then Brad Thomas threw 4 curves in one PA and walked Kila on 4 pitches. Enrique Gonzalez got a curve for a strike against Kila. Daniel Schlereth threw 4 curves in 4 pitches and gave up a sacrifice fly. Overall, Kila has seen 25 curves and only 12 were some variant of a strike (swinging, called, foul ball). So over half of the curves thrown to Kila were called balls. In other words, Kila hasn't hit any curves, and over half of the curves thrown to him weren't worth hitting.

The problem is offspeed pitches.

If you go through the list of strike-three pitches, 14 were off-speed. 4 changeups. 1 cutter. 1 splitter. 6 sliders. 2 curves.

So maybe that slider is a bit of a problem

The term used for Kila was "Slider-speed bat" which some people think means "he can hit sliders but not fastballs". I can't blame them for thinking that because a lot of baseball scout terms were translated from a unique dialect. But slider-speed bat means "hits slow fastballs", not "hits sliders".

Kila has seen 28 sliders, by my  count. 11 were balls and 17 were a variant of a strike (which means 11 balls, 11 strike variants, 6 strike threes)

If Kila Ka'aihue can't hit offspeed pitches, he will not make it to the 4th of July in Kansas City. In fact, he might not make it to the debut of Mike Moustakas unless he turns it around. Kila's hitting has made himself into a bit of a liability. See the example of Billy Butler being intentionally walked 5 times in 15 games to face Kila Ka'aihue. And Kila failing to do anything with those intentional walks.

Kila Ka'aihue is not guaranteed a job purely because he is a first baseman. If he doesn't hit by Moustakas Day, he's the first against the wall. Wilson Betemit would then get to handle a lot of the work at DH with Moustakas at 3rd everyday. This is a scenario i've been mentioning for months, but people just haven't realized how logical and likely it could become. Kila is going to be demoted due to Moustakas if Kila can't hit, or for Hosmer in 2012 if Kila does hit. (Unless Moustakas gets a job teaching summer school in Sarpy County, he will be up before Hosmer)

What could be done until Moustakas day? I read of Kila batting 3rd to "get better pitches", but do you really think the idea of Kila being on first with Butler at-bat is that scary to pitchers? Specially when you consider the whole groundball double play thing that Butler could do with slower runners on 1st. Not to mention the whole "seeing better pitches" thing is dubious. The best thing that can be done is making better judgment calls on breaking pitches. Kila Ka'aihue is a very patient hitter, unless he has has 2 strikes or it's an important at-bat, then he either ends the at-bat quickly with an out or strikes out swinging.

In other words: Just chill, don't press, hit strikes, and work on that whole slider/offspeed giant hole in your game.

But if Kila starts getting randomly benched v. RH starters before Moustakas Day, he's screwed and living on limited time. So he should get all the starts in the 7 games with Cleveland (a team without a single RH LH starter) but I can see him getting benched against a CJ Wilson next weekend unless he is on a hot streak.

Here's the list of pitches, with the speeds and types that Kila has faced so far this year.


date PA vs P1 P2 P3 P4 P5 P6
Rst P
03/31/11 1 Weaver (RH) FB88B FB88KL FB89B FB86KS FB91B FB93IP
LO 6
03/31/11 2 Weaver (RH) CB70B CH78KL FB88B FB90B SL79B CH77KS
K 6
03/31/11 3 Takahashi (LH) FB87F FB89B SL78IP

GO 3
03/31/11 4 Kohn (RH) FB91B SL79KL FB91F FB92F SL82B FB91B FB92B BB 7
04/01/11 1 Haren (RH) FB89KL CU86KS CU85KS

K 3
04/01/11 2 Haren (RH) CB79F SP85IP

1B 2
04/01/11 3 Haren (RH) CU85B CU85F FB90F SP85KS

K 4
04/01/11 4 Kohn (RH) SL80KL FB92IP

HR 2
04/02/11 1 Santana (RH) FB92KL FB93B FB93B SL82B FB94B

BB 5
04/02/11 2 Santana (RH) SL79B SL78KL FB91F SL81KS

K 4
04/02/11 3 Santana (RH) FB92IP

GO 1
04/02/11 4 Santana (RH) FB93B FB94IP

FO 2
04/03/11 1 Kazmir (LH) FB82B FB82B FB81B FB87B

BB 4
04/03/11 2 Kazmir (LH) SL81B FB87IP

2B 2
04/03/11 3 Thompson (RH) CU89B CB88B CU88IP

GO 3
04/03/11 4 Takahashi (LH) SL78KL SL80B SL80IP

GO 3
04/03/11 5 Rodney (RH) FB97B CH83KL FB96B CH82B FB95B

BB 5
04/05/11 1 Floyd (RH) CH85KL FB91IP

FO 2
04/05/11 2 Floyd (RH) FB91KL CB78KL CB79B CB79B CH85B CH85KS
K 6
04/05/11 3 Floyd (RH) CU83B FB90F FB90B FB90B FB91F FB91B
BB 6
04/05/11 4 Sale (LH) SL81KS SL80F SL82KS

K 3
04/05/11 5 Santos (RH) SL84B CH85KL FB93F SL84KS

K 4
04/06/11 1 Buerhle (LH) FB87KL FB86F FB86B FB86B CH81KS

K 4
04/06/11 2 Buerhle (LH) CB72B FB84B FB85F CH79B FB85KL CU81IP
FO 6
04/06/11 3 Buerhle (LH) FB87IP

FO 1
04/06/11 4 Humber (RH) FB88B FB93IP

FO 2
04/06/11 5 Thornton (LH) FB95KL FB96B FB97KS FB96IP

2B 4
04/06/11 6 Sale (LH) SL80KL FB95IP

04/08/11 1 Scherzer (RH) FB90B FB91KL CH80F CH78B FB91IP

PO 5
04/08/11 2 Scherzer (RH) FB90KL FB93B FB90KS FB92IP

FO 4
04/08/11 3 Scherzer (RH) FB89KL CH78KL FB88B CH80B FB89IP

1B 5
04/08/11 4 Schlereth (LH) SI87B SI87KL SI88IP

GO 3
04/09/11 1 Coke (LH) FB89KL SL77KL CB76KS

K 3
04/09/11 2 Coke (LH) CB77KL CB74KL CB76KS

K 3
04/09/11 2.5 Coke (LH) CB78KS FB89B Butler CS LOL

04/09/11 3 Coke (LH) CH88KL SL79B CB77KL SL79KS

K 4
04/09/11 4 Thomas (LH) CB76B CB75B CB76B CB74B

BB 4
04/10/11 1 Porcello (RH) FB89KL CH80F FB91IP

LO 3
04/10/11 2 Porcello (RH) CH79B FB89KL FB89KS FB90KS

K 4
04/10/11 3 Porcello (RH) FB88KL SL79B CH78B FB87B FB88IP

1B 5
04/10/11 4 Gonzalez (RH) FB92B CB79KL FB87B SL89KS FB93F SL89KS
K 6
04/10/11 5 Schlereth (LH) CB77KL CB79B CB78F CB79IP

SF 4
04/14/11 1 Fister (RH) FB88KL FB87B CH81B CH81B FB89F SL85B
BB 6
04/14/11 2 Fister (RH) FB89B FB89KL FB88B FB88IP

04/14/11 3 Fister (RH) CB75B FB89IP

1B 2
04/15/11 1 Bedard (RH) FB91KL FB92F CB89B FB92IP

04/15/11 2 Bedard (RH) FB90KL CB77B FB90KL FB90IP

PO 4
04/15/11 3 Bedard (RH) FB89B FB90KL CH74IP

FO 3
04/15/11 4 Pauley (RH) SI86B SI88KS CH82B SI87IP

GO 4
04/16/11 1 Hernandez (RH) B SI93KL CB80KL CH89KS

K 4
04/16/11 2 Hernandez (RH) SI95KL CH89IP

GO 2
04/16/11 3 Hernandez (RH) SI93B SI93F CH89KS FB94B CB82IP

FO 5
04/16/11 4 League (RH) SI97B SI96KL CH87B SI96B SI96B

BB 5
04/17/11 1 Pineda (RH) FB88B FB96B FB97F SL85B FB96B

BB 5
04/17/11 2 Pineda (RH) FB98B FB96KL SL87KS SL87KS

K 4
04/17/11 3 Pineda (RH) FB97IP

GO 1
04/17/11 4 League (RH) SI97KL SI89B SI97IP

1B 3

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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