Royals Rumblings - News for August 27, 2014
Did Dayton Moore find a market inefficiency? Russell Carleton at Baseball Prospectus seems to think so, and satirically praises Billy Beane for assembling this small market contender.
The underappreciated Gordon aside, Beane looked for hidden value where he could and found it in the form of outfield defense. While other teams stuffed their outfields full of big bats and let the hits fall where they may, Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson have both put up solid years in the pasture. In addition, Salvador Perez has consistently rated as one of the best defensive catchers in the game over his short tenure, and he’s not bad with the bat either.
So the Royals hatched a plan. The starters didn’t have to be world-beaters, just reliable. The bullpen would be there to shorten games. In addition, Beane saw (along with everyone else) that Wade Davis made a much better reliever in 2012 than he had a starter. In 2013, the Royals tried to remake Davis as a starter (it didn’t work), so by signing Vargas to take Davis’ place, they not only got Vargas’ good-but-not-spectacular performance, they also turned Davis from a pumpkin back into a top-shelf reliever. On the surface, the moves might have been questionable, but Beane was thinking two moves deep.
Luke Goosen at Royals Blue seems to agree.
Whether Dayton Moore has actively set out to construct a team based on the premise of "best bang for the buck" or he simply lucked out, either way he has been able to produce a product that is capable of winning baseball games in a manner that is far different from conventional wisdom....
Is defense the new on base percentage? In a world where every front office has a team of sabermaticians, (except the Royals, who I expect have "A" guy…I kid, I kid), on base percentage is no longer some secret you can find on the street for an affordable price. Its expensive now.
So what else beside defense is cheap? How about base running?
Where's Dayton's movie?
Our old friend Craig Brown at Royals Authority tackles the question of just what to do with Eric Hosmer when he returns from his hand injury.
The Royals are expecting Hosmer to return sometime after Labor Day. I would imagine he goes straight back to first base and probably the third spot in the lineup. Yost will grumble something about how Hosmer was really beginning to hit just before his injury as justification. A Hosmer return pushes either Butler or Willingham to the bench. But the way Butler has been raking, you absolutely cannot justify sitting him down more than once a week. And at this point in the season, I have much more faith in Willingham than I do Hosmer.
In my mind, this is how it ends. An inflexible manager reinserts a subpar hitter into a key spot in the lineup and bounces two hot hitters in and out so they lose their groove. The offense sputters down the stretch and the Royals don’t make October. You can see it, can’t you?
The Royals have a favorable schedule down the stretch, but perhaps that's not as big a deal as people are making it out to be.
According to STATS, the Royals have the easiest schedule in the American League the rest of the way, playing opponents with an aggregate winning percentage of .479. But how significant is that? The Tigers will face teams with a winning percentage of .496, so they'll have a chance to go on a run themselves if they play well enough.
In baseball, there are no gimmes on the schedule - and that's even more true this year, when there's a decent chance nobody will lose 100 games. Texas, which has baseball's worst record, is on pace for 99 defeats. The Twins may be in last place, but they're on pace for 72 wins and just gave Detroit's pitching fits.
And on the flip side, baseball hasn't had a 100-win team since 2011, and nobody is on pace for it this year either. The parity in the game right now is one reason nobody's schedule will be that easy or that hard down the stretch.
Raul Ibanez likes that this team not only has first-place attitude (RAWR!), but first place talent.
"Now you have the attitude and the talent matched together," he said. "I like seeing guys doing everything for the benefit of the team. It's team-first.
"Now there's first-place attitude with first-place talent."
Hearing that, of course, is music to general manager Dayton Moore's ears.
"That's a good way for Raul to put it," Moore said with a hint of a smile. "Raul is a better man to articulate that because he's with them every day. But with my conversations with everyone involved, there's a common belief among the players that they will push this all the way through. They believe in themselves."
David Schoenfeld of ESPN writes that the Royals have the second-best bullpen in the Majors, losing points to the Mariners in depth.
Mike Petriello at Fangraphs argues its not just the Tigers falling apart, but the Royals playing crazy good ball right now.
Sam Mellinger writes the Royals deserve some national attention, and not just for playing against the Yankees!
Alex Gordon's next home run will tie him with Simpsons guest star Wade Boggs for most home runs ever by a Nebraska-born Major Leaguer. I believe, by law, that makes him King of Nebraska.
The Yankees beat the Royals because of a horse-head of course.
"Full House" may be coming back. Have mercy.
It is now legal to walk around Kansas naked, in case you were wondering.
Your song of the day is Spoon's new single "Do You".