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Royals Rumblings - News for November 2, 2018

The offseason is upon us

Kansas City Royals Photo Day
The caption says “Mitch Maier #74”. That’s such a Spring Training number
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Old friend Craig Brown breaks down the Royals roster moves on Wednesday.

And with that, the Royals current 40-man roster stands at 37 players with Jesse Hahn, Jorge Soler and Cheslor Cuthbert still needing to be activated off the 60-day DL. There’s still some maneuvering ahead, but with the Royals constrained by budget, it’s still shaping up to be a very quiet winter.

I like the series by Drew Osborne at RFR about who the Royals should target. This time it’s Trent Thornton in the Astros system.

Some people project him to be a reliever because of the arm motion and some project him to be a number 4 or 5 because of the stuff. I’m not sure where the best fit for him would be but he could probably pitch out of a big league pen right now. If I’m the Royals, I trade for him now and give him a shot in the rotation this spring with a fall back of the bullpen. If he doesn’t make the big league team, you put him in the rotation in Omaha and go from there.

A trio of stories on the Fansided network:

Rustin Dodd of The Athletic remembers Bill Fischer

Fangraphs has a pair of stories looking at trends for the just completed season.

Rian Watt compares reader predictions about strikeout and walk rates, among other things, to how the season played out:

The second thing I’d take away from this is that most of the trends that have made baseball baseball in the last few years — lots of power, lots of strikeouts, and declining contact — stayed the same or accelerated in 2018. Yeah, the home-run rate per fly ball dropped in 2018 — and the number of home runs dropped accordingly — but players still hit a lot of home runs: more by nearly 700, for example, than they hit in 2015, which was itself one of the highest totals of its decade. And we, once again, saw fewer fastballs and more strikeouts this year than we ever have before.

Jeff Sullivan renewed his annual tradition of comparing postseason baseball to regular season baseball:

You might not intuitively think that playoff BABIP would decline. But it declines, and it declines by a lot, even though, again, the playoffs select for better teams, which select for better hitters. Historically, in the playoffs, BABIP has been lower by 6%. This year, in the playoffs, BABIP was lower by 9%. The past two years have been the first years in the wild-card era to have a playoff BABIP under .270. It’s harder to get batted balls to find the ground. It’s harder for a number of reasons.

The pitching is better. The pitchers, individually, mostly throw faster, on account of playoff adrenaline. The defenses are presumably better, and the playoffs afford teams a greater ability to scout their opponents. Temperatures go down! That’s another thing that might kill some fly balls. Playing around with some Statcast data for 2015-2018, the league-average regular-season expected wOBA has been .314. In the playoffs, it’s been .307. But the league-average regular-season actual wOBA has been .317. In the playoffs, it’s been .292. Batters aren’t hitting the ball dramatically worse; they’re just ending up with dramatically worse results. That’s been the pattern, and that’s what happened in 2018.

At the Best of Royals Review, let’s start the offseason off on a lighter note: “Mitch Maier Writes Home from Baseball Summer Camp”.

For a awhile coach was doing this thing where he played me for a little during the game. We were playing this other camp and they had different rules. Or maybe the coaches just talked about it. I don’t know. But for just about every game I would be on the bench and then I would get to play later. So it was pretty good. I even got to be on the field at the end of the game a few times, which is really cool. I think in my mind, “OK Mitch, this is the end, you will make the winning catch and win the WORLD SERIES”. That is what I think about.

Beyond being one of Will’s most remembered posts for its absurd humor, it was significant for other reasons. The next day he published his farewell missive and a few days later, Mitch was designated for assignment. That said, I suppose there’s a happy ending as MITCH! won a World Series ring in 2015 as a coach* and I’m sure Will is at that nice farm upstate where they send all former RR editors (no, not BPKC).

*I’m pretty sure, at least, as he was on the staff

We talked earlier this week about the announcement of the full Playstation Classic game lineup. If you’d like my small novella about it, begin here. I’m just going to quote myself:

I feel like Nintendo was like “money was no object, we’re making this right” with the NES and SNES classics whereas this was more of a cash grab for Sony.

Nintendo was like “Capcom, here’s a truckload of cash for Street Fighter II.” “Square, we want Final Fantasy for the NES and both our first choice of RPGs for the SNES, Final Fantasy VI, and you’re signing away the rights of your dev work on Super Mario RPG, too. Again, metric buttloads of cash to you.” “Tecmo, what do we need to make Tecmo Bowl happen? I don’t care if we have to go find Bo Jackson, Jerry Rice, and QB Eagles and pay them ourselves!”

Sony was like “Well, crap, we can’t make this thing without FF7 so let’s see what Square wants and how it fits into the budget. Damn, that used up too much so we’re going to need some filler games.” “Sir, I don’t think it’s possible to add Gran Turismo as it’s a giant endeavor of whoring out our awesome game engine in a licensing and advertising maze for everything from cars to soundtrack to signs on the track.” “Finally, we want to use proprietary Sony memory sticks to store games so we can only get them in odd configurations like 48GB and everything has to fit on it so get a bunch of small filler games for the back end of this disk.”

That’s not to say there aren’t some great classic games on the retro system, though. Tekken 3 was definitely one of the most significant inclusions on the system. On Metacritic, it’s the only one of the top 6 rated games (seriously, no joke; also: the only other games in the top 20 are MGS and FF7; awful, Sony, awful) to make the Playstation Classic.

Personal note: I’ve never been big into the Tekken series but that’s more because I’ve never been into fighting games (the Super Smash Bros and SoulCalibur series being the exceptions). But they are technically sound fighting games that are really well made and often advance the fighting genre.

Matt will probably cringe listening to some of what this person talks about in the video (even I cringed a little with my very limited musical knowledge). However, I liked the idea of analyzing the game through the lens of each character and their musical themes: