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Weekend Mailbag: Otter ask Ward

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Week 2 of the entropy-ever-quickening Weekend Mailbag. Let's get to the questions:

Did the Royals win yesterday?
from: pro_birdwatcher

They did not. Chris Young was not good. He hasn't been good this year. It reminds me of the stretch he had last season when his back started acting up, only this time his performance is worse. Command seems to be the big issue, or control, or whatever. He can't locate anything right now, and he's not fooling anyone. His WHIP is 1.98, which won't work for any pitcher, but especially not a soft-tossing starter.

Outside of Chris Young, the team seems to be functioning pretty well. Small samples and all that, but no one has utterly tanked to start the year. I guess the next worst performer would be Joakim Soria? But relievers and small samples are hard to pick nits with.

I dunno. There's probably a number of factors: too much coffee, not enough coffee, barometric pressure, sunlight (or the lack thereof), the economy, military actions in foreign territories, Donald Drumpf, Ted Cruz the Zodiac Killer, asbestos, those bottles that have safety seals under the lid but the safety seal is poorly adhered and so only part of it comes off forcing you to dig at it with a knife until you can pry the rest of it off. There's a lot of factors.

Lack of sleep is a big one. Consistent schedules—going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day—can make a huge difference on your body's natural rhythms. Eating in the morning is also important. Even if all you can snag is a granola bar or an energy shake, it will kickstart your metabolism and get your body producing energy after sleeping.

Because he's one of the greatest characters in television history.

Infante, on the other hand, is owed a lot of money and is well liked among his teammates. He's also hitting .324/.333/.432 with a 116 wRC+ on the short season, having drawn his first walk yesterday. So there's not much to complain about yet. Hopefully the surgery he had last November has fixed whatever issues he was having, even if it took 18 months to get around to it. He won't maintain a .400 BABIP, but a league average hitter with positive defense is something the Royals haven't had at second base since Alberto Callaspo in 2009. I feel like it should be hard to go seven years without a league average player at a given position, particularly when the team in question goes to consecutive World's Series. But, here we are.

If you want to go on a fun journey, Kansas City's history of second baseman (excluding Grudzielanek) is woefully bad. Guys who received at least 300 plate appearances in a given season, since 2000:

  • Second Base: Carlos Febles, Luis Alicea, Desi Relaford (who, if you recall, was a switch hitter who for a season couldn't switch hit due to an injury), Tony Graffanino, Ruben Gotay, Esteban German, Alberto Callaspo, Mike Aviles (post-TJS), Chris Getz, Omar Infante. No. of 2-fWAR seasons: 0

In other words, since the turn of the century, the Royals have received two average seasons from second base, both by Mark Grudzielanek back in 2006-2007. That seems like quite a feat to pull off. Callaspo was a rounding error away, so the Royals traded him to Anaheim for Sean O'Sullivan and Will Smith.

This is my brother. He likes asking this question because he knows I get mad about the Z-Man.

Let me start by saying that the Z-Man is delicious. It is a fantastic sandwich. It is not, however, barbecue. I don't care if you come from Missouri, Carolina, or Texas, barbecue—as a genre of food—has conventions. One of those conventions is a lack of cheese. Name any good, decent, god-fearing barbecue dish, and it is cheeseless. Burnt ends. Ribs. Combo beef and sausage from Arthur Bryant's. A double deck turkey and beef from Gate's. Cheese is not included in any of them.

The Z-Man is a wonderful sandwich. It is not barbecue, the same way that a turkey club sold at Lawnside is not barbecue.

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing mankind that he didn't exist," or so the saying goes. The greatest trick Joe's KC ever pulled was convincing a bunch of suburbanites that cheese and a fried onion equals good barbecue. That is its heresy.

Well, the short answer is ERA, because the number of earned runs that a pitcher gives up inherently accounts for the number of hits and walks he yields.

The long answer is neither, as you can get more relational value of a pitcher's skill from other, more meaningful statistics, like FIP, K/9, BB/9, RA9, etc. There is a correlation between ERA and WHIP, as the top answer on this Quora post illustrates rather well. However, looking at something like ERA or WHIP in order to gauge a pitcher's relative skill is not very meaningful by itself, particularly in smaller samples or without some sort of relative understanding of what is 'good' or 'average.' A lower WHIP is better, but doesn't necessarily translate to fewer runs given up, as it does not account for extra base hits. A lower ERA is better, but doesn't account for things like defense.

Join us again next week. Don't forget, the comment with the most rec's in this thread is the title of next week's mailbag.