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Royals Rumblings - News for April 19, 2019

What’s after a Thursday win against the Yankees? A Good Friday!

MLB: Kansas City Royals at New York Yankees
Thaaaa Royals win. Thaaaa Royals win!
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s clear out some more stories from Wednesday’s game. Many different outlets felt it appropriate to take a dig at MLB’s “Let the Kids Play” slogan when talking about the White Sox-Royals fight.

ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle talks about Tim Anderson’s home run history against the Royals, Joe West, and more.

Let the kids play. It’s the smartest, most savvy slogan baseball has come up with in a long time. It’s a resonant message with real-world meaning on the field and off. And it’s a message that apparently has not reached every clubhouse, nor has it filtered down to every umpire crew.

Matt Snyder of CBS Sports did the what’s-now-becoming-a-cliche story about the hypocrisy of it all, taking apart the specific situation.

Like the story above this, Yahoo’s Chris Cwik points to the Twitter feud between Anderson and Toronto’s Randal Grichuk and more player Twit reaction.

USA Today’s Ted Berg wants to get his clicks, too.

Even Ken Rosenthal (now at The Athletic, of course) got a little salty with fans:

Hey, the Royals made national baseball news! Yay?

A couple of weeks into the season and many blogs are already giving up on the Royals. Nothing new the past couple of days from Royals Blue, Kings of Kaufman, or even the reliable Royals Farm Report.

The first Fansided entry is a slideshow (warning) from KC Kingdom’s Cullen Jekel: “Power Rankings Volume 1 for 2019 season”.

In the second, Call to the Pen’s David Hill proclaims “Kelvin Gutierrez hammering on major league door

The Star’s Pete Grathoff talked with Jake Newberry about his high school life before being drafted

“I figured I would just go to a junior college anyway, just because of my grades,” Newberry recalled last week in the Royals clubhouse after being called up from Class AAA Omaha. “I wasn’t going to be able to get in anywhere big. But once the draft started happening, more D-2 teams started filing in and talking, but it was nothing really serious. My grades, I had a 1.8 (GPA) my freshman year because I just came in and didn’t take anything seriously. I didn’t really know what to do in high school and kind of slacked off. That kind of hurt me getting into college.”

In one of his Fantasy Baseball columns, Yahoo’s Scott Pianowski features Hunter Dozier

Dozier’s drawn eight walks over 57 at-bats, and he’s only struck out 12 times. Basically, he’s doubled his walk rate from last year, and cut his strikeouts by over 10 percent. We’re still dealing with a small sample of course, but walk and strikeout rates stabilize rather quickly in a fresh season. If these contact numbers are intact by the end of the month, we can feel good about trusting them.

If you have a Baseball Prospectus subscription, Zach Crizer talks about Brad Keller avoiding the strike zone.

Fangraphs prospect guru Eric Longenhagen hits up Nicky Lopez on his Daily Prospect Notes:

Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals

Level: Triple-A Age: 24 Org Rank: 7 FV: 45

Line: 3-for-5, 2 HR, 2B, BB

Notes: In our recently-published Royals list, we openly wondered if we should be heavier on Lopez largely because A) he plays shortstop and B) his peripherals are excellent. Shortly after publication, an executive reached out to us and they agreed we should be more enthused about Lopez, who we currently have evaluated as a second-division regular. He’s struck out just once so far this year. We don’t expect Lopez to hit for much power (he’s little and hits the ball on the ground a lot), but he may do enough to be part of Kansas City’s rebuilding efforts.

Wait? Did you think I forgot listicles?’s Do-Hyoung Park lists “Each AL Central team’s secret weapon

Royals: Martín Maldonado

The Royals feel they were lucky to be able to sign Maldonado in Spring Training after catcher Salvador Perez was lost for the season because of Tommy John surgery. Maldonado, who won the Gold Glove in 2017, is renowned for his defense, particularly his framing skills. According to recent data, the percentage of pitches out of the strike zone that are called strikes have been up this season from last (6.1 percent from 4.8 percent) with Maldonado behind the plate, and the percentage of pitches in the zone that are called balls are down (3.6 percent from 4.7 percent).

Royals catching coach Pedro Grifol agrees that Maldonado’s pitch framing skills have been more than solid so far. “He would be in our elite category,” Grifol said. The Royals’ analytical department has its own system to grade framing skills based on a points system -- basically, catchers are rewarded the more a pitch is outside the zone is called a strike, and penalized vice versa. Maldonado is around plus-12 for the season, Grifol said. “He has been everything we thought he would be,” Grifol said. “He has tremendous framing skills, andz so does [backup] Cam Gallagher.”

Around baseball...

ESPN’s David Schoenfield looks at the next three free agent classes. In what must be an embarrassing oversight for the worldwide leader, no Royals players are there, nor are they listed as a potential destination for any of the players on said list.

Also from Bristol, Eddie Matz has an awesome story about fake jobs that players claim to have

Kevin Gausman, Atlanta Braves: I’m a blimp folder. I just fly around with the pilot and make sure to type in the right things. Sometimes we’ll have football games, and you have to type in “Go Patriots” or “There’s free Bud Light after the game,” and then we land, and we deflate the blimp, and I start folding. It takes a long time. Usually a couple of hours, but I try to get it done pretty quick.

AAA is now using the MLB baseball instead of the old minor league ball and Baseball America’s JJ Cooper examines the sharp rise in home runs that has followed.

But the ball isn’t staying in the park. Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

In the same vein, the Sports Illustrated baseball staff tackles the question “Does MLB have a home run problem?

I consider MLB’s homer explosion analogous to the three-pointer boom well underway in the NBA. A homer, like a three-pointer, enlivens the game, and, stripped of any context, I’d more rather see a homer or a three than a single or a two. But when those happenings... uh... happen, I want them to be special, the result of circumstances (rather than analyst-identified incentives) aligning just so. When you see James Harden mindlessly bombing away, or Joey Gallo trying to launch-angle every pitch he’s thrown, it kinda devalues the whole thing.

Former Royal Jeremy Jeffress talked with Ryan Fagan of Sports Illustrated about his health issues, baseball, and other topics:

Then one offseason, in 2008 here in Phoenix, I had my first one. It was like 7 in the morning. I had a dog then, and had to wake up because he was crying in his cage, had to use the bathroom. Woke up, and that was my first seizure. My mom didn’t know what to do, nobody knew what to do. It was terrifying. No one knew what it was, and they kept happening maybe a couple of months apart. They kept happening.

In a previous Rumblings, I professed my love for one of my favorite games of all time, SNES’s The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. So when it was rumored that they would be making a sequel, even with the care Nintendo puts into the Zelda franchise, I was fully expecting a cheap cash-in on nostalgia. However, it turned out to be a very pleasant surprise, a fitting homage, and a worthy successor to one of the best games of all time.

The Zelda timeline is a wacky place and we’ll probably revisit it at some point. It’s nicely summed up on the Zelda wiki thusly:

Zelda Timeline Theories are perhaps the object of greatest debate amongst fans of the series. Nintendo’s transcendental and thorough method of incorporating the tried-and-true formula of “gameplay first, story later” has arguably produced some of the greatest games of all time, but it has also resulted in an incoherent chronology - full of loose ends, contradictions, and general confusion.

Fortunately, it’s pretty obvious where this fits as the “official timeline” came out a couple of years before the game and the writers went out of their way to make it easy on players. It’s a direct sequel to Link to the Past but takes place hundreds of years later. The Zelda and Link in this game are distinctly different from the Zelda and Link from LTTP (or any other game) and their exploits have faded into legend. As a sidebar, I have to think Zelda and Link are the most popular kid names in Hyrule. There’s a slim chance your kid might be a chosen one and become a trancendent hero.

The game uses identical maps from Link to the Past for the overworld so there’s a familiarity to fans of the original. However, the dungeons are completely different. Similarly, an equipment renting mechanic makes the game a much more open world and the 3D “fade into walls” technique creates new types of puzzles. The subtle change from 16-bit to 3D graphics and newer remixes of the classic music feel like a fresh coat of paint on a 20-year-old game and make it feel modern. The plot has some great twists that I won’t spoil beyond what I’ve already said. There was a lot of care taken to craft this game and it’s certainly worthy of being the sequel to a legend.

Today’s song of the day is the delightful Lorule (get it: the opposite of Hyrule) Castle: