Game 38 Preview: Kansas City Royals vs. Oakland Athletics

Leon Halip

Only ten years after the publication of "Moneyball" and two years after the Hollywood release of the film version, the Royals consider the fact that swinging at everything may not be the best approach.

The Royals continue their West Coast swing by heading up to Oakland to face the Athletics this weekend. The A's have been celebrated by not only the stat community but by Michael Lewis, who wrote the bestselling book "Moneyball", published in 2003 and made into a smash Oscar-nominated Hollywood film in 2011.

Just ten years later, the Royals seem to have gotten around to reading it, and perhaps understanding the book's core concepts. While the main theme of the book was about finding inefficiencies in the market, one of the spokes holding up that theme was the idea that outs are sacred. Getting on-base was the only way to avoid outs, so that should be the primary goal of every hitter, whether it be through a hit, a walk, or catcher's interference. Get. On. Base.

The Royals organizational philosophy, even going back to their successful heyday, has been to get the ball in play, make something happen, be aggressive. Walks are passive. Put the onus on the other team.

Let's look at how the Royals and Athletics have ranked in "Moneyball" categories since the strike.

Kansas City Royals


Oakland Athletics


Walks

OBA

SLG

Runs

Walks

OBA

SLG

Runs

1995

13th

12th

14th

14th

4th

9th

7th

8th

1996

12th

12th

14th

14th

7th

10th

6th

10th

1997

9th

10th

12th

12th

2nd

8th

7th

11th

1998

12th

12th

11th

13th

2nd

9th

12th

9th

1999

10th

8th

10th

7th

1st

4th

8th

4th

2000

14th

8th

11th

5th

2nd

3rd

5th

3rd

2001

14th

14th

10th

10th

1st

3rd

5th

4th

2002

8th

10th

12th

11th

3rd

5th

7th

8th

2003

9th

6th

7th

4th

4th

10th

8th

9th

2004

13th

13th

13th

11th

3rd

5th

7th

9th

2005

12th

13th

12th

12th

3rd

5th

10th

6th

2006

10th

11th

14th

12th

2nd

7th

13th

9th

2007

13th

13th

14th

13th

2nd

6th

11th

11th

2008

14th

12th

12th

12th

4th

13th

14th

14th

2009

13th

13th

12th

13th

10th

11th

14th

9th

2010

9th

8th

9th

10th

7th

9th

12th

11th

2011

11th

5th

5th

6th

6th

12th

12th

12th

2012

14th

8th

10th

12th

4th

12th

9th

8th

2013

15th

9th

10th

12th

1st

6th

12th

2nd

The A's are still walking just as they've always done, but their runs have fallen off in recent years due to a lack of power. Their power is still gone this year, but they've gotten off to a good start in the run department, although we'll have to see how long that holds up.

Meanwhile, the Royals have not finished higher than eighth in the league walks since 1989. Five times since that year have they finished in the top half of the league in runs scored:

  • In 2011, the Royals stole a ton of bases (second in the league) and hit for a high batting average (4th). This had been pretty much their ideal formula for success, and it got them the sixth most runs in the league.
  • In 2003, the Royals finished in the top half of the league (7th) for the first time since 1977. They drew a fair number of walks (9th in the league) and finished 4th in batting average. They also seemed to have an amazing amount of luck that year.
  • In 2000, the Royals scored their most runs ever. They were dead last in walks, but led the league in batting average. They were third in steals, but twelfth in doubles.
  • In 1999, the club fit pretty much the same pattern, getting a lot of hits, but little power and no walks.
  • in 1990. the Royals led the league in doubles, were second in triples and third in batting average. Again, not many home runs or walks.

So the Royals strategy of getting lots of hits and making things has happen has had some limited success. But with the variability in batting average, is it a sustainable philosophy? Is it the approach that makes the most sense for this era in this ballpark?

The Royals might be reconsidering that approach. The hitters held a meeting this week to discuss "brain-dead hacking." As Uncle Ned put it:

"It means we don’t have great approaches right now," Yost said. "It changes with discipline, learning, experience. If you’re not taking your walks, that means you’re making outs far more frequently than you need to on the pitcher’s pitch."...

"You still have to be able to control your aggressiveness." he said. "It’s a process that we work on. We’ll work on it every single day until we get more proficient at it."

Got that Frenchy?

Francoeurliriano

via assets.sbnation.com

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