This is gorgeous.
The Royals game with the Tigers in Omaha made some waves nationally.
The series finale between the Royals and Tigers will be Thursday night at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha. It’s the Royals’ home game and is being held two days before the start of the College World Series.
MLB.com’s Robert Falkoff writes about some of the logistical difficulties.
The Tigers will leave their Kansas City hotel on Thursday morning, but starting pitcher Matthew Boyd will already be in Omaha. Boyd drove on ahead on Wednesday, making the trip of three-plus hours by car so he wouldn’t have to fly on game day. The bulk of the traveling party will head from the plane directly to the downtown stadium and there are plans for both MLB clubs to interact with all eight CWS teams on the field between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. CT.
Of course, there were minor logistical difficulties during the game, too.
MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan put together a Q&A prior to said game.
Do any of the players have history in Omaha?
Quite a few, actually. Most notably, Royals star Whit Merrifield’s walk-off hit delivered South Carolina its first national championship in 2010. And teammate Alex Gordon grew up in Nebraska and starred for the Cornhuskers in college.
Clint Scoles at Royals Academy has updated his system rankings. Here’s the top tier, but go over to his site to read the rest
The Top 4 (Rank among current peers)
1. Bobby Witt Jr. (Top 50)
2. Jackson Kowar (Fringe 100)
3. Daniel Lynch (Top 100)
4. Kyle Isbel (Top 100)
This separation is pretty clear in my eyes with Lynch and Isbel getting dragged down by injury. Had Isbel remained healthy and continued to play the way he was he wouldn’t be in Wilmington or at #4 on here, heck he might be #1 but definitely #2 on this list. He’s pretty close to a five-tool player in his own right. The same goes for Lynch who left shaking his arm and I would be surprised if he survives Tommy John over the next year or so. I understand the Royals have said that it’s not a problem that he needed an MRI for but it appeared like it was coming. Despite some iffy results at times Kowar still remains the highest upside of the Royals pitchers and he’s showed an average curveball at times. Mix that in and toss in a 2-seam fastball some with more movement and he’s still got the stuff to get to a #2 starter.
Fangraphs also updated their prospect rankings and a Royal is now in the Top 100.
We didn’t peel many names off THE BOARD, even if they’re near the bottom of a list and struggling badly. We also shuffled draft guys a little as post-draft info came in on medicals, and updated reports from the college postseason and for hideout guys. Bobby Witt was a high 50 FV who we decided we were a bit low on and pushed into the low 55s.
Royals Farm Report has a trio of new stories. First, there’s a point/counterpoint about bringing up Bubba Starling. Tucker Franklin argues that “Right now isn’t the right time for Bubba Starling” whereas royalscollector makes “A case for the call”.
Meanwhile, Drew Osborne breaks down an Alec Marsh start from a couple of weeks ago.
It’s tough to gauge a guy after one start that isn’t his best. Marsh will probably breeze through Burlington or Idaho Falls and on to Lexington. He should breeze through there as well as long as he is locating his fastball consistently. I would imagine that Wilmington will be the first tough situations he will consistently see. I think he and Gambrell are very similar in ranking and I don’t know where they both fit. Baseball America had them 1 spot apart at 101 and 102. The Royals added good starting pitching depth with those two guys and both these guys have could be MLB starters.
Leigh had a handful of articles earlier this week but nothing that last couple of days. In fact, Fansided has pretty much been dead for Royals coverage.
So, today, we have a rare post from Sean Thornton at Bleeding Royal Blue. We may have already posted it here (but I couldn’t track it down, but, if so, here it is again): “A Rebuild Isn’t Always Fun”
From the beginning this felt like a team that would be streaky offensively and that is what we are seeing at the moment. This is a team that rarely walks (despite a small uptick this season compared to seasons past) and relies on the top 5 of the lineup, since the bottom half has been M.I.A. for most of this campaign. The offense going on a bender would be tolerable if the pitching could handle the load…but it can’t. The Royals pitching has the 4th highest ERA in the American League over the last month and the starters threw the least amount of innings in that span.
For the news of the day, let’s just look at Alec Lewis’s Twitter feed from yesterday:
The #Royals have reinstated 1B Lucas Duda from the IL and optioned 3B Kelvin Gutierrez.— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) June 13, 2019
It makes zero sense to me why the MLB Draft isn’t held in Omaha. No, it’s never gonna be what the NFL and the NBA are. That’s not how the player progression works. But still, make it as much of a spectacle as you can. Draw as much interest from people my age as you can.— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) June 13, 2019
Would it be a Friday without listicles? I think not!
R.J. Anderson of CBS Sports handicaps the race for the #1 pick next year.
The Royals have not won consecutive games since May 19-20. They’ll have a chance to change that on Wednesday, having downed the Tigers on Tuesday night. The Royals also have the majors’ worst winning percentage in one-run games.
This has been one of my better rumblings for interesting stories around the league.
Negative findings are really important to science. Sadly, they rarely are and we’re inadvertently p-hacking our science. Ben Clemens at Fangraphs asks whether inducing popups is a skill. Spoiler: It is not.
There are more ways to ponder the question of whether pitchers can exert some influence over whether batters hit popups, but given the tiny year-two variation from the top to bottom 10%, these changes aren’t likely to amount to much. Consider this fact: James Shields allowed more fly balls than any other pitcher in 2018, a whopping 231. There’s no pitcher who could make better use of a skill for inducing popups. The entire gap from bottom 10% to top 10% is 2.4%, or about five popups a year. Are those five popups worth something? Of course! They pale, though, in comparison to the value of getting more strikeouts or walking fewer batters. For comparison’s sake, a strikeout rate change of 0.5% would have been worth as many outs for Shields last year as that 2.4% infield fly ball rate change.
MLB.com’s Sarah Langs put together a fun list, looking at potential .400 hitters.
Hitting .400 for a season is quite the feat. In fact, no qualified hitter has done it since Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941. Many have tried in that span, but none has succeeded. This year, we saw Cody Bellinger hit .404 through the Dodgers’ 49th game of the season, but be was unable to extend that to the Dodgers’ 50th game or beyond. Here are the most games into a season that a qualified player has hit at least .400 in each campaign since Williams’ 1941 mark, with help from the Elias Sports Bureau. The player’s final batting average for that year is in parentheses:
ESPN’s David Schoenfield tries to contextualize this years “home run binge” with ones from the past.
Compared with last season, runs per game are up 0.27, and home runs are up 0.20 per game. Yes, hitters are going for launch angle and all-or-nothing swings while accepting even more strikeouts, but something is clearly up with the ball. The juiced ball of 2017 has returned with rockets attached this time.
Now it’s time for a little history lesson. This kind of dramatic season-to-season increase in offense has occurred at various times throughout major league history, with increases traced directly to changes (intentional or not) to the ball. Let’s look at some of those seasons and see what happened.
Also, at ESPN, Sam Miller chronicles pitchers’ fastest fastballs, mixed with fun little quizzes:
There are 575 pitchers who, last year, threw at least 250 pitches. We put each pitcher’s fastest pitch into a spreadsheet -- 575 lines, one for each pitcher -- to try to answer some questions: What do we make of these fastest fastballs? When are they thrown, and why, and to whom, and to what effect? We will answer those questions, after giving you the chance to hypothesize with a game of multiple-choice:
At The Hardball Times, Lynda Lampert pens a personal story about keeping score at baseball games.
I keep score of major league games on an iPhone app now, so I’m able to calculate pitch count, spray charts, and batting averages automatically. I don’t do it for any reason other than it’s fun. It reminds me of a time in my life when sports were an integral part of my every day. Keeping score soothes me, and for a few hours, I’m part of a professional baseball team, despite the fact that I can’t run, throw, or catch anymore.
There are even a couple of non-baseball stories from the Star’s Blair Kerkhoff that I wanted to include:
- In the first, he listed cities that have won all 4 major sports trophies
- In the second, he asked which college teams scored the most points in the NBA
In case you missed the Stanley Cup Finals, Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports had a nice primer leading up to Game 7 a couple of days ago.
Finally, for the NBA, the incomparable Zach Lowe asks “Can any NBA team possibly replicate what Toronto just pulled off”?
Since E3 was this week, let’s talk about it and sprinkle in some links about major video game sites around the web.
What is E3? It used to be the preeminent video game show. Maybe it still is. There’s not really a bigger one, but maybe there just isn’t that important of a conference anymore. Last week, Polygon ran a fun story about the first E3 back in 1995. It could be argued that it peaked in the mid 00s: the 2004 Reggie show we discussed back during Reggie week is often cited as one of the best. However, as Gamespot noted, it’s changed a lot.
For instance, this year, Sony skipped it entirely. Nintendo scaled back their presence a few years ago and just does pre-recorded messages rather than a full press conference. But, they still had a lot to announce, as Kotaku listed. Apparently, enough that Nintendo threatened legal action against a leaker who spoiled a lot of other announcements from other companies.
Microsoft, in light of disappointing XBox One sales (so bad they stopped reporting numbers), announced their next console, code name: Project Scarlett. As IGN reports from their press conference, it’s going to be released in time for the 2020 holidays with launch game Halo: Infinite. For the record, Sony had already announced the successor to the Playstation 4 in an April interview with Wired. Both claim to be able to do real time ray tracing.
So maybe E3’s underwhelming showing is just temporary. It’s happened before. We’re reaching the end of the generation and many resources are being poured into the next generation. Nintendo has already rushed ahead, having pulled the plug on the Wii U due to extremely disappointing sales. However, they merged their console and handheld product lines into a single device, the Switch. Its sales numbers have looked good so far, but less so when put into that context, like VG Chartz did.
So, in one corner, there’s a non-diversified Nintendo, their handheld market dominance finally toppled, not by Sega or Nokia or Sony, but by ubiquitous cell phones. In the other corners are two competitors who are looking fairly similar for next generation, gearing up to release new, expensive systems during a time of economic uncertainty. The last time Sony won a generation so handily, they took the next one for granted to trojan horse Blu-Ray into the home, giving them relatively lackluster sales of the Playstation 3. Meanwhile, Microsoft is needing this generation to succeed after the XBox One was a costly one.
So how about an ode to E3’s past? This is one of the better E3 compilation videos I could find. Numbers 9, 6, 5(ish), 2, and 1 are particular standouts. Kevin Butler should have been higher. He should have been #3 (not 6). Moments 2 and 1 are pretty hard to top, though, for their significance in gaming history (2004 E3 setting up Nintendo to win 7th gen and 2013 being Sony basically winning the 8th gen before it even started).