Jeffrey Flanagan helps perpetuate the myth that the Royals play better when Alcides Escobar leads off:
But a little over a week ago, manager Ned Yost felt he had no choice while trying to boost what was the worst offense in the Major Leagues: So Yost employed a familiar trick from his bag by putting Escobar back in the leadoff spot.
Since then, the Royals had won six of eight entering Wednesday. Of course, Escobar, on the surface, would seem to have little to do with the resurgence -- hitting .222 over that span.
But it has never been about what Escobar does. It's about what the team does when he's in the top spot.
Jason Vargas’s laborious fourth might have turned on one pitch:
And that was a two-out, 2-2 curveball to Didi Gregorius. Vargas wanted to bury it. But the curve hung up and Gregorius slapped an RBI single to right to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead.
Moments later, Vargas hung a changeup to Aaron Hicks, who drilled a three-run homer and the rout was on. The Yanks chased Vargas after four innings.
At BP, Ben Carsley looks at the worst players for each team who could start for the Royals while providing an offensive improvement over a Royals’ starter, concluding:
Look, we're probably entering a recurrence of the Dark Ages for the Royals. They're currently just 16-22 and in last place in the AL Central. Hosmer, Moustakas, Escobar, Cain, and Jason Vargas could all be free agents when the season ends. The core of this team will probably be blown to smithereens in the next 6-10 weeks, and while the Royals can get some nice building blocks for the future by trading a few players, it's likely to be a long haul thanks to their poorly-ranked farm system.
But let's not dwell on the unpleasant present or the uncertain future or the names above who'd somehow still represent upgrades over who the 2017 Royals are trotting out every day. Let's remember summers past instead. The Royals won 184 games between 2014 and 2015. They went to back-to-back World Series, and they won it all.They were athletic. They were relentless. They were fast. And they were fun.
Craig Brown writes of the Royals rebounding to average:
Look at the monthly averages. The Royals are hitting .251/.320/.394 and are scoring an average of four runs per game. A quick check of the American League numbers for the current season reveal the league hitting at a .246/.320/.404 clip and scoring an average of 4.4 runs per game. So the Royals have gone from abysmal to average. Roughly. As good as it seems they’ve been going since May 1, the Royals are still hitting at a below average rate, as evidenced by their 91 sOPS+.
In the course of the season, the tendency is to isolate the highs and the lows. A team (or player) isn’t as good as their hottest stretch, nor are they as bad as their worst. The truth lies somewhere in between. As bad as April was for this club, there was no way they could maintain that level of offensive futility, right? They had to fall up to the mean. So they weren’t as bad offensively as we saw. Right now, the Royals are hitting like an average AL team. Average. Does this mean they have yet to have a sustained collective hot streak? Or, if you prefer a more frightening thought, what if this is the hot streak? In the search for the true Royals offense, what if the truth lies somewhere in between what we’ve seen so far?
That’s a sobering thought. Then there’s this. After Tuesday’s loss, the Royals run differential for the month is now -5. Somehow, the Royals have a 9-6 record. Granted, two of those games (including Tuesday) were Jason Hammel starts where the Royals were outscored 19-2. Sometimes, things in baseball get a little wacky. As the temptation may be to isolate those two starts and say something like, “Ignoring Hammel starts…” except it doesn’t happen that way. Those losses are part of the 2017 record. Again, a balancing of the highs and lows. Jason Vargas has two starts this month where the Royals outscored their opposition 12-1. Take just those four games and the Royals run differential is -6. See how that works?
FiveThirtyEight’s Neil Paine notes that the best teams of 2015 are bums in 2017.
Jeff Sullivan wonders where have all the high fastballs gone?
Eno Sarris looks at the explosion of trips to the disabled list with the advent of the 10-day DL.
Travis Sawchik extols the virtues of Charlie Morton’s new, more electric stuff.
Marcell Ozuna may have turned the corner a la Luke Hochevar.
LaTroy Hawkins is not a fan of former teammate Tommy Kahnle.
At 2080 Baseball, Jared Wyllys looks at Mets’ first base prospect on the cusp, Dominic Smith.
Another Federal Title IX suit was filed against Baylor, alleging gang rape perpetrated in 2012 by members of the football team. A complaint from the victim’s mother was apparently ignored by an assistant coach. Worst program ever?
A new study has shown that a swallowable gastric balloon can help people lose weight.
Farmers in Tancitaro, Mexico fought back when the cartels began to threaten their $1.5bn-dollar business.
Kevin Costner and Hell or Highwater and Sicario scribe, Taylor Sheridan, are teaming up on a Western series Yellowstone for Paramount Network, the first drama given the greenlight for the net which will be replacing Spike next year.
The first song of the day is “Steal Away” by Robbie Dupree.
And to keep the smooth going, here’s a little “I Keep Forgettin’” by Michael McDonald.