Royals Rumblings - News for October 22, 2015
The Royals were pretty steamed about that ball four call on Jose Bautista, writes Sam Mellinger.
"You could argue I got the benefit of a borderline call," Bautista said. Here it is worth mentioning that Bautista is — how do we put this? — the kind of ballplayer who often has a different definition of "borderline call" when he is at the plate. How confident was he, after taking the pitch, that it was ball four?
"I wasn’t," Bautista said."But I did. I was relieved after."
Alcides Escobar, watching from his position at shortstop, gestured and screamed toward home plate umpire Dan Iassogna. Here it is worth mentioning that Escobar cannot remember ever arguing balls and strikes while on defense.
"I never say nothing to those guys," Escobar said of umpires. "I respect those guys. But in a situation like that, the pitcher, when he does a really good pitch like that, you need to give it to the pitcher — 3-2, right down on the corner. He called a ball, that’s no ball. If it’s a strike, call it a strike."
Royals bats were stymied against Blue Jays pitcher Marco Estrada.
"We couldn’t get anything going," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "But you have to have a short memory."...
"Down, down and away, down and in, he didn’t miss many pitches today," Escobar said.
The Royals are pumped about coming home.
"It's just a place that gets us all fired up," right-hander Edinson Volquez said. "It's great that we're coming home."
Added Eric Hosmer, "It's just the energy they give us at home. It's so loud and they never let up. It makes us not want to let up, either."
Because as the ever-turning trajectory of the series in Toronto reinforced, there is absolutely no reason to think there is any carryover from one game to another — particularly in the postseason. Toronto, you’ll remember, cut the Royals’ series lead to 2-1 on Monday with an 11-8 win that was 11-4 entering the ninth inning. If you want to think the Royals’ four-run ninth carried over into their 14-2 win on Tuesday, feel free.
But it seems the overall evidence instead points to the inherent flux of a game that makes a mockery of the concept of momentum. Momentum, baseball people like to say, is a game-to-game dynamic, and sometimes even pitch to pitch.
Lee Judge thinks Kelvin Herrera is getting too predictable.
First-pitch fastball, but Herrera gets Colabello to strike out. So if you’re Troy Tulowitzki, and Herrera has thrown a first-pitch fastball to every Toronto hitter he’s faced in this series, what are you looking for? If you said first-pitch fastball, you’ve been paying attention. Tulowitzki jumped on Herrera’s 99 mph heater, doubled, and cleared the bases. If you fall into predictable patterns, someone will notice and take advantage.
Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated writes the Royals anti-Moneyball ways have them on the verge of a pennant.
"We feel like we can put a lot of runs on the board, especially late in the game," said Royals second baseman Ben Zobrist, an émigré from Oakland. "In today’s game, it just doesn’t make sense to get to another team’s bullpen, so why worry about the starting pitcher’s pitch count?"
Said first baseman Eric Hosmer, deflecting credit to hitting coach Dale Sveum, "It all stems from Dale. He really emphasizes getting a good pitch to hit and when you get it, drive it. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first pitch—just the first good pitch. There’s a big difference between the quality of an 0–0 curveball and an 0–2 curveball. So why wait for the 0–2 one?"
Jeff Sullivan at Fangraphs looks at the recent history of high-contact teams like the Royals.
A year ago, the Royals were a very low-strikeout team, and their playoff OPS was identical to their regular-season OPS. The lowest-strikeout team in the pool, this year’s Royals aside, is the 2002 Angels, and they hit much better in the playoffs than they did during the year, and they won the World Series. This year’s Royals have so far out-hit themselves in the playoffs. An example of the opposite would be a couple Indians teams from the mid-90s. They got worse in the playoffs after not striking out much during the year, but this is why we take group averages.
So there really is some positive evidence. It’s not a game-changer or anything, but it at least seems to be relevant, with the Royals swinging well against good pitchers and drawing out at-bats.
August Fagerstrom at Fangraphs tries to explain Esky magic.
Seems like one of two things needs to happen here. First one being, maybe someone needs to throw Alcides Escobar an offspeed pitch to start a ballgame. Clearly, he’s geared up for the fastball. Changeup down the middle could work? Maybe? If you’re gonna go heater, though, maybe the typical strategy of "fastball over the plate to start the game" should sit a play out. Maybe fastball inside or fastball high? Those two pitches on the edges up ^ there, Escobar swung. The pitch furthest from the strike zone, Escobar swung. For the season, Escobar has chased out of the zone at an above average rate, and he doesn’t seem particularly discerning on the first pitch. I don’t know, man.
Will Leitch at Sports on Earth doesn't understand why the Royals aren't more liked.
The Royals not only are underdogs throughout their history: They're underdogs this year. Even though they'd been to the World Series last year, virtually no experts picked them to win the AL Central this season. The 2014 run was considered a fluke, a one-off. As SI.com's Jay Jaffe noted, no one, whether they were analytically minded or more traditionally oriented, thought the Royals would be good this year. A Kansas City Star reporter noted back in April that not a single one of 149 prognosticators had them back in the World Series. More people predicted the Cubs, Mets and Blue Jays to make it this far than ever predicted the Royals. We're already over this story? How can that be?
The Royals have everything we traditionally want in an underdog:
• Nobody believed in them.
• Their fans have suffered for decades.
• They play in a beautiful ballpark.
• They have a below-average payroll. (The lowest remaining in the playoffs.)
But nope! The Royals are the team people want eliminated. The Royals are the team people want out of the way. We're over the Royals. They are so 2014.
Tracy Ringolsby writes that role players have come up big for the Royals.
"It all speaks to Dayton Moore and [assistant general manager] J.J. Picollo, how they shaped the team with the evaluations from the scouts and coaching staff," said Game 4 starter Chris Young, one of those under-the-radar acquisitions. "They look for that intangible of character that doesn't get a lot of attention anymore. They look at how guys fit together and complement each other."
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