The Star’s Rustin Dodd writes of the Royals on the night of their elimination from the playoffs:
One year after lifting their second World Series championship trophy on a November night in New York, the Royals’ title defense officially came to an end at just after 9:12 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 28. There will be no playoff baseball in Kansas City this year, no champagne celebrations or miracles, no epic scenes in the final moments of the American League Championship Series. There will be no parade.
When the season ends on Sunday afternoon at Kauffman Stadium, a clubhouse full of ballplayers will scatter, headed home, to all corners of the country.
Maybe then, Eric Hosmer said, it will sink in.
The Star’s Jesse Newell compares the 2016 Royals to their projections:
The good news first: Paulo Orlando and Whit Merrifield are two of the best success stories to come from 2016. They led the Royals hitters in WAR above projection, giving the team strong numbers from positions that were question marks heading into the season.
Now, the bad news: The Royals hitters underperformed as a whole this season, as the players above produced 14.2 WAR compared to the 21.5 that was projected. In addition, only four players on the current team exceeded their expected value.
The bottom of the list also tells a story. Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas’ seasons were hampered by injuries. Alex Gordon’s was to an extent, but it also was an overall down year for him.
After being officially eliminated from the playoff race, Alex Gordon reflected on the disappointment of this year and the hope for 2017: pic.twitter.com/ZUxwPBxAAl— Rustin Dodd (@rustindodd) September 29, 2016
Dave Cameron thinks we’re going to see full-fledged bullpen games this season:
This postseason, there are just too many teams with serious pitching problems — especially when you look at their #3 and #4 starters — and terrific, deep bullpens to keep managing things the traditional way. This October, it seems very likely that we’re going to see full-fledged bullpen games, with teams choosing fresh relievers and platoon advantages over throwing a bad starter out there and hoping for the best. The Royals blazed the trail to a World Series title with a questionable rotation last year, and this year, I’d expect it to become a full blown trend.
Craig Brown delves into the Royals’ dropping contact rates:
The real culprits can be found further down the list. Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon have both seen their contact rates drop, roughly five percentage points each. Gordon’s decline is the most alarming. Previously, his career low contact rate was 74.9 percent set in his rookie campaign. Conversely, his strikeout rate is 28.5 percent, which is a career high by almost six percentage points. Gordon’s swing has gotten long and the guy simply never got on track. Lost at the plate in a lost season.
Gordon’s career contact rate coming into this season was 76.8 percent. He’s nearly six percentage points off his career average. That’s an amazing collapse.
Hosmer’s Baseball Reference page resembles a yo-yo when you gaze at his offensive production. Up one year, down the next. Up. Down. Up in 2015. Down in 2016. Of course, when the season opened and through the first couple of months, it looked like not only was Hosmer going to break that cycle, he was going to have a breakout type of year. Then the wheels completely fell off.
In looking toward 2017, Jeffrey Flanagan notes that Lorenzo Cain might be utilized differently:
Cain's injuries this season could influence how the Royals utilize him in the field in 2017.
When Cain suffered a hamstring injury in late June and returned in late July, Yost used him exclusively in right field to cut down on Cain's wear and tear.
"Once we get our season over and we start putting together the team for next year, we'll see about that," Yost said. "Is he more than capable of playing center? Of course he is.
"Do we look to put him in right field to protect his legs over the course of a year? Maybe. We'll evaluate that stuff over the winter."
John Viril wonders if Joakim Soria can be a decent starter over at Kings of Kauffman.
At BP, Aaron Gleeman looks at the Twins’ new General Manager, Derek Falvey.
Jeff Sullivan digs into who has been hanging the dongs this season.
Guardian reporter Chris Arnade looks at life in one of the most segregated neighborhoods in Milwaukee.
Oscar-winning director Alejandro G. Iñárritu signed up to make a VR movie.
The song of the day is “QACHINA” by Damien Jurado: