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Royals Rumblings - News for November 15, 2018

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Whit Merrifield prepares for an at-bat. Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

At Baseball Prospectus, Rob Mains argues there are glimmers of hope to be pulled from last year for the Royals:

In the first half of the season, Royals pitchers allowed a .280/.349/.465 slash line and 5.58 runs per game. They slimmed that down to .268/.332/.418 and 4.52 runs per game in the second half. Now, that’s not great. The MLB averages in the second half were .249/.318/.412, 4.49 runs per game. But Kansas City improved all the way from worst in the league in all those categories to the ninth-worst OPS allowed and the 14th-worst in runs prevented. So, yay?

On a very simplistic basis—just adding up the changes in ranking for the eight categories—the Royals had the third-most improved offense in the second half, after Oakland and Milwaukee. They also had the third-most improved pitching/defense, trailing only the Mets and Rockies.

Shudder subscribers are in luck sooner rather than later, as on November 29 it will be the exclusive streaming home (non-VOD) of the completely insane, oddly beautiful fever dream that is Mandy.

BP’s Matthew Trueblood talks of windows, trading Whit Merrifield, and Merrifield’s power:

Based on his raw power numbers, however, it’s still tempting to see Merrifield as a pedestrian hitter. He has just 31 home runs over the past two seasons, and 19 of those came in the great home run bonanza that was 2017. Nor does he have an inspiring average exit velocity (86.5 miles per hour in 2018, good for 256th in baseball), maximum exit velocity (106.4 mph, 293rd), hard-hit rate (the Statcast version, which takes batted balls 95 mph or faster as a percentage of all batted balls; 30.8 percent, 248th), or rate of “barrels” per plate appearance (3.4 percent, 234th). He simply doesn’t seem, by any of those measurements, to hit the ball hard enough to generate real surplus value at the plate, other than by being serviceable while playing a valuable defensive position.

Perhaps that’s a failure not of Merrifield’s bat, but of our capacity to digest the concepts to which Statcast gives us access. Hard-hit rate uses the wrong denominator (if we’re trying to figure out how good a player is at hitting the ball hard, we should ask how often they do it out of all the times they come to the plate, not just how often they do so out of all batted balls) and is missing critical information that’s available to us, if we just demand it.

At Radio Free Roscoe Royals Farm Report, Drew Osborne breaks down the past week in Arizona Fall League results for the Royals in Saguaro.

Artist Rob McCallum talks about the concept art he created for the brilliant wizard-metal horror trip Mandy.

At least Danny Duffy gets to go the the Chiefs/Rams game, even if the Chiefs fans who shelled out coin to travel to Mexico City won’t be able to do the same.

Behind the paywall over there at The Athletic (subscribe here and make Jeff Bezos give me a microscopic piece of his fortune), Rustin Dodd profiles Royals’ homegrown/hometown prospect Grant Gavin:

“I can’t even count how many Royals games I’ve been to,” Gavin said. “But the two years when they were in the playoffs, my family and I probably went to half of those playoff games.”

Kansas City finished off the 2015 World Series in five games, culminating in a thrilling moment in the Gavin home. Yet the most stunning development came the next year, when the Royals took a chance on Grant on the final day of the draft. Once ignored by Division I programs, once considered a second-tier recruit out of St. Piux X High School in Kansas City, Gavin signed a professional contract and began his career. That it came with the Royals only added to the shock.

“No one really knew about me,” Gavin said. “I was lightly scouted.”

Also at RFR, Alex Duvall weighs the options in trying to deal Alex Gordon.

Jay Jaffe dives into the Cooperstown cases for Lou Piniella and George Steinbrenner.

What should we make of Le’Veon Bell holding out for the entirety of the 2018 season after getting slapped with a franchise tag for a second straight year?

Amazon and Blumhouse have agreed to an eight-picture deal with a focus on the directors being from diverse backgrounds. Each of the films will go directly to Amazon’s streaming platform.

Asking all the important questions, Empire wonders what exactly is the anatomy of the Cheddar Goblin?

While this article isn’t covering a ton of ground that wasn’t well trod in Sam Quinoñes’s Dreamland, it does a good job of outlining the creation of the opioid epidemic.

Jeff Tweedy talks about music that meant a lot to him throughout the course of his life.

How does film grain play into the aesthetic of Mandy?

The song of the day is “Memories” from the soundtrack of Mandy by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson: