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Royal Rumblings (11/19/13)

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Mainly looking at times through a batting order with a few extra tidbits thrown in.

The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

Royals and Times Through the Order

I few days ago, I recommended a pretty stats heavy article looking at how hitting improves each time a hitter sees a pitcher during a game. The author, Mitchel Lichtman, followed it up on with another article looking at starting pitcher pitch mix. He looked out at the different number of pitches a pitcher has and how that number correlates to success. I recommend reading both articles to understand the different effects for times through the order. I will concentrate on two specific points today, pitches seen per batter and pitcher pitch mix.

  • The first item is the number of pitches a hitter sees per plate plate appearance. To quote the author:

For an individual batter, the number of pitches seen makes a huge difference. The largest difference is from the first to the second time through the order. If a batter sees fewer than three pitches in his first PA, he hits 10 [wOBA] points better his second time at the plate. If he sees more than four pitches his first time up, he hits 25 [wOBA] points better on his second go-around!

Basically, the more pitches a batter sees during their first plate appearance, the better they will do their second time up.

The Royals have just not put an emphasis on plate discipline since Dayton Moore arrived. Here is the league rank in pitches per PA since he has taken over full time in 2007.

Season: AL Rank (of 14)
2007: 12th
2008: 13th
2009: 10th
2010: 11th
2011: 12th
2012: 12th
2013: 13th (of 15)

At least they were never last. This team's lack of focus on plate discipline can be summed up with this quote from J.J. Picollo.

"When you're looking at the impact guys in the first couple of rounds," Picollo says, "you look at the major tools. Can he square up a ball? Can he hit for power? What's his speed? Can he hit consistently? All those things.

"You have to have the tools first or it really doesn't matter. Now, when it gets to later rounds, when the talent gap isn't that much between players, that area (on-base percentage) has more of a chance to stand out and it may separate one player from another."

Not every hitter needs to be patient, but there needs to be some kind of team movement to at least be league average.

  • The second point I want to look at is his finding on the number of pitches thrown by a pitcher. Here is a table showing the wOBA against the pitcher for the first three times through the batting order.
# Pitches in Repertoire (> 10%) First Time Second Time Third Time Second Minus First Third Minus Second Third Minus First
1 0.344 0.370 0.375 0.027 0.009 0.036
2 0.343 0.359 0.371 0.016 0.018 0.034
3 0.349 0.362 0.371 0.013 0.015 0.028
4 0.340 0.351 0.360 0.011 0.013 0.024

No real surprise here. Pitcher with better pitch mixes have better results.

This type of information is important when looking at 2 pitch pitchers like Phil Hughes and Luke Hochevar (he was basically fastball/slider as a starter, his curve ball was shit). Here are the OPS+ values for the first three times through the order.  The OPS+ value is compared to other pitchers pitching that time through the order. A value less than 100 is better than league average.

Phil Hughes

First: 92

Second: 112

Third: 122

Luke Hochevar

First: 88

Second: 110

Third: 124

These type of pitchers are good relievers and should not be considered to be starters. They can get through the order once, but they should not see a hitter the second time.

Raul Mondesi Profile

At FanGraphs, Nothaniel Stoltz cranked out over 1200 words on Raul Mondesi.

Here are a couple quotes from the article

There’s plenty to like here. Defensively, Mondesi seems to have soft hands, fluid actions and a nice arm, and I don’t see any reason he can’t be a sound defensive shortstop. He did make 30 errors in 2013, but that’s fairly typical for teenage left-side infielders and is not a long-term concern at this point. His athleticism should also allow him to contribute on the basepaths at higher levels.

With a high likelihood of being valuable in the speed-and-defense game, Mondesi doesn’t need to set the world on fire offensively to become a playable starter. Still, he has a lot of potential on the offensive side of the ball, even if it still hasn’t quite bubbled to the surface yet.


Don’t expect Mondesi to suddenly hit .300 or start clearing fences regularly, but don’t be surprised if he posts 2013-esque numbers this coming year and follows that up with a big breakout in Double-A in the following campaign…which he’ll open at age 19. Mondesi’s two-way potential and polish give him a very bright future.

Adams spinning the AFL

Jim Callis looked at some Trackman pitching stats from the AFL and Jason Adams had the most spin on his fastball compared to any other pitcher.

Fastballs with more spin generates more swinging strikes, while those with less spin yield more groundballs. The harder the fastball, the more spin it generates. The typical big league fastball is clocked at 92 mph and has 2,210 RPM, while a 95-mph fastball averages 2,263 RPM.

Jason Adam (Royals) had the most fastball spin in the AFL, averaging 2,611 RPM and 93 mph.

Josh Johnson = Luke Hochevar?

Luke Hochevar always struggled with men on base and if the Royals sign Josh Johnson, we may seen the same type of results.

Earlier this year, Jack Moore reviewed Josh Johnson‘s inability to get hitters out while pitching from the stretch. Johnson and the Jays were very much aware of the situation, but even still, it did not improve as the season went on. In the end, Johnson limited batters to a .315 wOBA and a .307 BABIP when he worked out of a full wind-up, while opposing batters had a .440 wOBA and a .450 BABIP when Johnson worked out of the stretch. His BABIP while pitching from the stretch was 73 points higher than any other pitcher that made at least 15 starts in 2013.

The article goes into several reason for the difference, but basically he doesn't induce groundballs from the stretch.

Keith Law's take on Hunter Dozier (link)

Max (Florida): Any thoughts on Hunter Dozier thus far? Or still too early to tell?

Klaw: Too soon/old for his levels. Hoping he starts here in Wilmington with Mondesi and Bubba.

Best Games from 2012

If you are wanting to go back and re-watch some Royals games from this past season, the Hardball Times has come out with the games with the greatest swings in win probability. The Royals were in the following games:

Date Home Away Score
09/23/13 SEA KC 8.75
08/17/13 DET KC 8.01
09/05/13 KC SEA 7.94
06/30/13 MIN KC 7.81
06/25/13 KC ATL 7.76
04/21/13 BOS KC 7.63
07/31/13 MIN KC 7.58
05/05/13 KC CHA 7.51
06/23/13 KC CHA 7.34
04/20/13 BOS KC 7.31