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Royals Rumblings - News for May 4, 2018

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If May ended right now, the Royals would have a winning month of baseball

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals
Lo, Danger Ox at .303
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports Alex Gordon is feeling confident:

Asked if his confidence offensively is near where it was in 2015, Gordon said, “It’s been awhile. Obviously, performance is a result of confidence. And when performance is down, your confidence is down. And that’s one thing I’ve tried to work on this year, to keep believing in yourself the whole year even if things don’t go well. I kind of started slow and then went on the DL, and when I came back, I’m staying positive.”

Rustin Dodd of The Athletic also looks at the adjustments made by Alex Gordon.

“Overall, I just feel more comfortable right now,” Gordon said. “Just short, quick, not trying to do too much.”

Fangraphs’ David Laurila had a long interview with Scott Barlow following his major league debut on Monday. It’s a fun read and has lots of little personal tidbits.

Right when the inning was about to be over, he came over again and said, ‘You’re going to remember this for the rest of your life.’ Then I ran out to the field. Running in, I was just making sure that I didn’t fall. It was kind of like I was floating. When I got to the mound and started waring up, it was almost like a different kind of adrenaline. I felt zoned in. I never felt like I was out of control of my body or my thoughts.

Sam Mellinger writes that we haven’t seen a turnaround like Jorge Soler in awhile.

Soler was so unplayably awful last season that you are tempted to overplay the adjectives, so let’s start with something that’s true: last season, his first with the Royals, he hit .144 with a .245 on-base percentage and .258 slugging percentage across 110 plate appearances. One-hundred forty-four men have hit that poorly in 100 or more plate appearances this century.

Fewer than 10 percent of them managed even a .700 OPS the next season. Fewer still became consistently productive, and, perhaps most descriptively, 50 did not play a single big-league game the next year. Most never played again.

None of the 144 has hit as well as Soler has managed through the season’s first five weeks. Still a long way to go, but what we’re seeing here so far has no real precedent this century, and perhaps even further back, a guy going from that bad to this good.

”I’m not sure I’ve seen it,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “Not on any team that I’ve had.”

CBS Sports’s Mike Axisa also looks at Soler’s improvements:

This year, Soler has upped his walk rate -- his 17.0 percent walk rate going into Wednesday’s game was 12th highest in baseball, on par with guys like Carlos Santana (17.3 percent) and Joey Votto (16.9 percent) -- and, not coincidentally, he’s not chasing out of the zone nearly as often. His swing rate on pitches out of the zone (O-Swing%) is dropping and, thanks to the fact he’s swinging at better pitches, his hard contact rate is going up.

Brandon Maurer has been outrighted off the 40-man roster.

In yesterday’s game thread, Ryan Heffernon mentioned it was School Day at the K and linked to Tim Webber’s wonderful Celebrating the worst School Day at the K of all time story. KC Star’s Pete Grathoff did a retrospective on the last 12 School Days at the K.

Grathoff also had some stories about Ned Yost and tornadoes:

“The only time I had a chance to see it, I didn’t believe it,” Yost said. “I was playing in Triple-A and we were in Toledo, Ohio, and my roommate we were in the hotel, just got in, and he goes, ‘There’s a tornado over there. I see it, it’s a tornado. (I said), ‘Yeah, right. There ain’t no tornado. Yeah, right, tornado, right.’

MLBTR’s Jason Martinez lists Josh Staumont as a potential call up:

While the walks are still an issue—he’s walked seven in 10 1/3 Triple-A innings—he’s allowed just one earned run and hasn’t walked more than one batter in seven of his eight appearances. The 24-year-old right-hander has also struck out 22 batters, including 10 over his past two outings (3 2/3 IP).

Paul Lukas of ESPN’s delightful Uniwatch revisits power blue jerseys. Of course, the Royals are featured prominently:

KC Kingdom’s Leigh Oleszczak points out Alex Gordon’s good hitting since his return from the DL:

It’s been rough for Royals fans to have to watch Gordon struggle and now he’s looking like himself again. The only thing to be cautious of here is that it’s still too early to tell if Gordon is indeed back or if he’s just benefitting from a hot streak.

KOK’s Chris James looked back at the previous start of Erik Skoglund.

Apropos of nothing, certainly not the Royals bad start, here’s MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo with a list of the highest ceiling players in this year’s draft.

ESPN’s David Schoenfield asks “Could Mike Trout outproduce a tanking team’s entire lineup?” Spoiler: “Pretty much, as he’s out-WAR’d whole lineups in previous years already and is on pace to do it again”.

Ichiro is moving into the Mariners front office:

The 44-year-old Ichiro will not play again this season, but he will travel with the team.

”He is not retiring -- he’s taking on a different role for 2018, and 2019 has yet to evolve,” Ichiro’s agent, John Boggs, told MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal.

However, many have taken this to mean he’s retiring and a number of outlets have done career retrospectives: ESPN, CBS, CBS again

Albert Pujols sits at 2999 hits after a double on Thursday.

Joey Votto likes trolling St Louis Uber drivers:

“Do you know Albert Pujols?” Votto says he asks the Uber driver.

“Oh yes, of course,” comes the inevitable reply.

“Well,” Votto says, “I beat him for the Most Valuable Player. He came in second to me.”

A mystery pooper at a New Jersey school track turns out to be the school superintendent. I’m going to just agree with the photo caption on this story

This is a stock photo of a high school track. You do not want a stock photo of anything else from this article. (Getty)

An armored truck was spilling money onto an Indiana highway yesterday:

In particular, police say they are looking for a school bus driver who stopped to grab cash before driving the bus away from the scene. They are also looking for four individuals in a white pickup truck, pulling a utility trailer, who made off with one of the bags of money.

Perrine says they are searching for anyone who stopped to pick up the cash; they can be charged with theft.

...“If you’re willing to, in good conscience, turn it back in, there’s amnesty, there’s no real questions asked if you’re willing to give it back,” McCooe said.


Unfortunately, I’ve been under the weather this week so I haven’t had a lot of time to work on a Song of the Day (I also might have been working on this rambling screed while I should have been working on Rumblings).

Today, on May the 4th or Star Wars Day or whatever it’s called, it feels like we should look at a game from that franchise. There are so many to pick from and some day we’ll probably visit games from the KOTOR, Rogue Squadron*, Lego Star Wars, and X-Wing/Tie Fighter series. But for today, how about the underrated Star Wars games on the Super Nintendo. Yes, some of the platforming is repetitive and formulaic. And, yes, it’s not quite true to the story (like Luke fighting the Sarlaac monster in the first level). And, yes, it could drive you insane with some difficulty level choices. Like, say, when your parents kept bugging you that they needed to return the game back to Blockbuster. But you had been playing the insanely hard last level of Super Return of the Jedi for TWO STRAIGHT HOURS, trying to ESCAPE IMPOSSIBLY SMALL DEATH STAR CONDUITS IN AN IMPRACTICALLY LARGE AND OBLONG MILLENNIUM FALCON AT TOP SPEED BECAUSE FLAMES WOULD CATCH YOU IF YOU WENT ANY SLOWER! And damned if you were going to return the game without beating the final level. But I digress.

The production values and look are quite good for the era; enjoy that 16-bit midi sound:

*Considering my love of all things Gamecube, it’s a mortal lock we’ll see Rogue Leader at some point