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Royal We-ekender: Heroes and Villains

Sleeping with the enemy.

Oakland Athletics v Kansas City Royals Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Just a few odds and ends on this Sunday morning...

  • People are already gushing over Raúl Mondesí for going 7-for-13 with a home run in his first week of camp. While it is encouraging that he is hitting well, let us remember how little spring training stats matter. Here is who Mondesí’s hits have come against:
  • Bunt single against Dillon Gee
  • Single against Carlos Torres
  • Single against Carlos Estevez
  • Single against Alex Hermeling
  • Home run against Josh Fields
  • Single against Chase Blackburn
  • Single against David Hernandez
  • Not exactly Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux. It is great that Mondesí is hitting well and getting his confidence up and he does provide the most upside out of any of the second base candidates. But we did see him absolutely overwhelmed in well over 100 plate appearances last season at the Major League level and that should certainly outweigh a handful of at-bats in Arizona in any evaluation.
  • Jeff Passan at Yahoo! Sports had an interesting article this week from the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. We are still in the infancy of Statcast data and what we can do with it, and some of the speakers, including Daren Wilman, Tom Tango, and Mike Petriello, believe that Statcast will help us re-evaluate how we calculate Wins Above Replacement. It is important to remember that WAR is a relatively new statistic that will almost certainly need adjusting as we learn more. That certainly doesn’t mean it is a “fake” statistic, after all, the calculations for batting average has changed over the years (sacrifice flies were once counted as at-bats, walks used to count as “hits”). It is natural to conclude WAR will likely evolve over time as well.
  • On Friday, Kevin Kietzman on 810 WHB made the statement that if the Royals starting pitching is the best it has ever been, which I argued it very well might be, then the Royals will win 90 games. The 2014 Royals finished fourth in the league in starting pitcher ERA at 3.60, and that team won just 89 games with a shutdown bullpen known as HDH. They led the league in bullpen ERA at 2.72 and won 65 of 69 games when leading after seven innings. Last year, that number went down to 58 of 69 games. And the Royals no longer have Wade Davis. The 2014 Royals also outperformed their pythag by five wins, and were ninth in the league in runs scored due to some fortunate sequencing. They also had a dominant defense that featured Jarrod Dyson and players three years younger than they are now. It is not that I think the Royals can’t win 90 games if the starting pitching is good, just that it is not a guarantee of success. The Royals are clearly playing with a different formula than in the past.
  • I knew that even the idea of Brett Lawrie playing for the Royals would make most Royals fans lose their lunch. But villains sometimes switch sides. Johnny Damon went from the Red Sox to the Yankees. Dexter Fowler went from the Cubs to the Cardinals. Across the parking lot, Chiefs fans welcomed former Raiders runningback Marcus Allen with open arms. Brett Lawrie is a bit different - he wasn’t hated for playing for a rival, he was hated for being a huge jerk. But our views on jerks are different when they’re our jerk. Yordano Ventura did not have a great reputation around the league, but he was our guy, so we defended him. As long as he is not disruptive to the clubhouse or a menace on the field, and most of all, productive at the plate, I think most fans would embrace most any villain from another club. But maybe I’m wrong. Which player in baseball history would you have hated the most to see on the Royals?