Royals starting pitchers by the numbers

As advertised. - Ed Zurga

Rainouts and off days mean the sample sizes aren't getting any larger.

Yesterday, I used the small sample sizes to select one stat that encapsulated each regular position player's season thus far. Since the Royals are on some sort of football schedule where they play once a week, it only seems right to apply the same look at the rotation. (Seriously, as I write this, it's 28 degrees and there's no Royals game. This is what January was like. I hate January.)

-- James Shields is as advertised. All his rate stats are already falling into line with his career numbers. The guy is consistent. And that's why the Royals shipped a slew of minor leaguers to Tampa. His early fWAR of 0.8 is tied for 10th best in baseball. He may not be a True Ace™ but he's the best starter on the Royals.

-- In his "good" seasons, Ervin Santana's slider has been the key pitch. Through four starts this year, his slider has been outstanding. He's getting a swing and a miss on his slider 24 percent of the time, up from his career average of 18 percent. According to FanGraphs, Santana owns the seventh best slider in baseball.

-- Jeremy Guthrie owns a 22 percent HR/FB rate. His career HR/FB rate is around 10 percent, which is in line with league average. Guthrie has surrendered six homers this year. All six have come with the bases empty. Good thing according to Royals broadcasters solo home runs don't hurt.

-- The Small Sample Size yields plenty of statistical tomfoolery. Perhaps none more bizarre than left on base percentage. Two starters (Hisashi Iwakuma and Carlos Villanueva) have yet to allow a baserunner to score. Wade Davis is in that rarefied air, stranding almost 94 percent of all his baserunners.

-- Luis Mendoza has been skipped a couple of times thanks to this strange schedule and rainouts where there have been more off days than game days. That's OK by me. Good teams skip their fifth starters at every opportunity. They're in the back of the rotation for a reason. Mendoza has made only two starts, but has walked six batters in 11.2 innings. Those free passes have hurt as he's the anti-Davis with a 40 percent strand rate.

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