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Royals Rumblings - News for October 21, 2014

Here we go.

Jamie Squire

Royals Rumblings - News for October 21, 2014

Rob Neyer acknowledges these two teams in the World Series aren't great, but he just doesn't care.

Meanwhile, it’s good for Major League Baseball when teams like the Royals win, even if they don’t seem utterly deserving. Because not a single baseball fan in Kansas City, young or old, dedicated or bandwagoneer, cares about the Royals’ run differential or their 3OP. They’re just going to remember these last few months among the most exciting of their lives, just the way I remember September of ’84, and September and October of ’85. Many of these fans will come back for more next year, and the year after that and the year after that. Which is ultimately good for just about everyone.

Jeffrey Flanagan writes the Royals may have found a permanent leadoff man in Alcides Escobar.

But shortstop Alcides Escobar, of all players, seems to have locked down the job not just now, but perhaps for next season as well.

Yes, that Alcides Escobar, the free swinger, a potentially permanent leadoff man.

"He could be the guy," general manager Dayton Moore said. "You never know. He's doing a nice job right now. Still needs to see more pitches.

"But I like the fact that he's trying to learn it. He's working at it."

Most important, the Royals are winning with Escobar leading off.

Pay no attention to his .299 career on-base percentage!

Did Dayton Moore and Pirates General Manager Neal Huntington just improve at their jobs?

So what happened? How did Moore quit doing this stuff? There were, I think, four key factors.

One likely reason, which some have already discussed in the comments, is that Moore improved at his job. That's surely partially true. He shouldn't have needed seven years to learn that someone like the 2013 version of Francoeur wasn't a starting-caliber outfielder, but he did learn that eventually. We probably don't want to put too fine a point on the idea that he improved, though, as we'll see.

Second, as Moore graduated more talent from his very good farm system, he didn't have to lean as hard on outside veteran acquisitions, many of whom Moore had to acquire very cheaply. The free agent market simply isn't favorable to teams like the Royals or Pirates.

This World Series is a great spotlight for two of the best catchers in the game, writes Grantland's Louisa Thomas:

The Royals are unpredictable and Perez is reliable — and those two facts are not unrelated. Because he is so sound, he helps the pitching staff take chances — chances that are right now breaking the Royals’ way again and again. Perez is known for his phenomenal blocking ability; he’s considered by many the best in baseball. Knowing that Perez is unlikely to give up passed balls has given Royals pitchers the confidence to put more movement on the ball and throw their most aggressive stuff. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Royals’ rotation has improved significantly since Perez came up. That’s not all due to Perez, of course — but it says something that the rotation continues to be significantly stronger with him than without.

August Fagerstrom at Fangraphs previews the nastiest pitches we'll see at the World Series.

1. Wade Davis – Cutter

I’m not gonna lie, I’m ecstatic this pitch came out on top, because it means I get to repurpose this GIF in another post. I think this is my favorite GIF I’ve ever created. That pitch doesn’t even look real. One of the people from the comments section of my Wade Davis post from last week accused this GIF of being altered in some way. Another described it as "Unfair. Just simply unfair." Another said it looked like a mix between a splitter and a 12-6 curve, but thrown at 94mph. That all sounds about right. It’s got a 35% whiff rate, which is more than 1.5 standard deviations above the mean, but the craziest thing about this pitch is its 74% groundball rate, more than two standard deviations above the mean. Hearing those numbers and watching this GIF repeatedly, and my mind can’t comprehend that this pitch actually exists, or that Wade Davis is actually a human.

Guys, I think Wade Davis might be an alien.

Sam Miller at Baseball Prospectus has his World Series preview.

It takes a lot more than eight games to make a projection system forget about a sub-.500 third-order winning percentage. Despite Kansas City's home field advantage and extreme likeability, PECOTA still doesn't like the Royals' chances, giving the Giants a 56-to-44 percent edge in Game One and a healthy chance of taking yet another trolley ride down Market Street. One caveat: We haven't told PECOTA about Terrance Gore.

Mellinger explains why teams are looking at the Royals as a model.

The plan all along has been to build around pitching and defense. They did that because of their ballpark and their budget. They are benefiting from it in large part because of how the sport has changed.

In the American League, home runs dropped by nearly a third this year. Overall, AL hitters were like a group of middle infielders from the 1980s: they hit .253 with a .316 on-base and .390 slugging percentage, the lowest marks in each category since at least 1976.

It follows, then, that if base hits, base runners, and home runs are harder to come by than virtually any point in the last four decades that teams need to make the most of what they get.

Executives from three American League clubs who spoke for this column said that teams are now discussing how much of the Royals’ approach here to emulate.

Who could’ve predicted that — the Royals as a model for how to score?

Read more here:

More lessons from the Royals! What can investors learn from the Kansas City Royals?


The San Francisco Gate writes that the Royals have a unique, diverse history.

Jay Jaffe at Sports Illustrated takes a look at how the Royals won the pennant.

The Royals have already won the internet, according to Grantland.

Jonah Keri and Ben Lindbergh give their World Series Preview.

Whoa! James Shields passed a kidney stone during the ALCS.

Giants starter Tim Hudson says the Royals made him a "very good offer" last winter.

Royals rookie Brandon Finnegan could become the first player ever to participate in both the College World Series and the Major League Baseball World Series in the same year.

Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs takes a look at Giants Game One starter Madison Bumgarner.

Check out 2X2L's previews of the World Series - preview of role players, preview of bullpen usage, season profiles.

Great weather expected for the World Series in Kansas City this week.

Ned Yost and Jeff Foxworthy - the Odd Couple.

The Giants and Royals are facing off, so the New York Times compares the respective cities.

Doug Worgul at writes that a Royals championship would cap off a tremendous renaissance in Kansas City as a city that has bounced back.

This Royals fan is producing "That's What Speed Do" shirts with the proceeds going to the RBI Program.

The Star profiles some Royals fans making long journeys to come see the team.

The Royals are pretty likeable because they're pretty approachable.

Ned Yost walks out of Brookside Market, buys some raffle tickets for Academie Lafayette from Isabella Dougherty and tells her to put her own name on them … and, in kind, she puts the school’s name on them.

Read more here:

Celebrities, they're just like us!

K-State football may be one of the last hopes for the Big 12.

Sexy Halloween costumes vs. the real-life objects they hardly resemble.

Famous graffiti artist Banksy was arrested for vandalism....OR WAS HE??????

By request from cmkeller, your song of the day is Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night."