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Royals Rumblings - News for September 6, 2019

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September baseball, everyone!

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Kansas City Royals
Whoops
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Two major stories look back at the David Glass’s ownership tenure. The first is from Sam Mellinger in the Star, describing it in the title as “layered”:

The change was something of a rock bottom moment for Glass. Various associates and friends have said Glass felt embarrassed by the losing and angry because he had never failed in a competitive setting before. One former baseball operations employee put it this way: “He wanted to believe in the people who were there, but eventually the losing stacks up and he realized he needed new people.”

The other requires a subscription to The Athletic:

The Star also had a set of stories about Jorge Soler, the Royals first 40 home run man.

Lynn Worthy wrote a long profile:

Soler has admitted that the fact he was traded for Davis weighed on him and stuck with him as he struggled through injury-shortened seasons and tried to make a mark on the organization that displayed so much faith in him and gave up so much to get him.

Pete Grathoff had a pair of smaller stories:

MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan talked to Jesse Hahn after yesterday’s game with the Tigers.

Hahn, who has battled elbow injuries the past two seasons and had elbow repair surgery last August, put the Tigers down 1-2-3 in the eighth inning with two strikeouts. “After the first pitch, it all came back,” the 30-year-old said. “I was nervous, butterflies, shakes in the legs a little. But after I threw the first one, it was just compete mode. It just felt good to be out there again.”

Ryan McBroom has been in the news a lot lately after coming over in a trade. RFR’s Drew Osborne chronicled his exciting Wednesday:

McBroom made his MLB Debut on September 3 against the Detroit Tigers in Kansas City. The first pitcher he faced was Tigers LHP Daniel Norris. The first pitch McBroom saw was a 93 mph fastball down the middle which he took for a strike. He saw his first big league breaking ball the following pitch when Norris bounced a curve. With a 2-1 count, McBroom took his first swing in the majors fouling off another 93 mph fastball that was up and away. After a 2-2 curve away running the count full, McBroom lined a 91 mph fastball that was up and away into right center field for his first major league hit. The ball was thrown back into the infield and to Tigers first baseman Jeimer Candelario. Candelario then turned around and offered it to McBroom who was standing on first base. The two shared a laugh as the ball boy took possession of the ball for McBroom’s trophy case.

About once a month, Bleeding Royal Blue has a new story. Sean Thornton’s new story is about the ownership change.

So instead, here is the abbreviated version: I like the move. Sherman seems like a good fit, even if it feels almost too good. Yes, that is probably the worry of a Royals fan from before 2014. Trust me, it never completely goes away.

Clint Scoles is doing daily updates of the minor league playoffs over at Royals Academy.

Also, something called Field Level Media keeps getting picked up by larger media outlets. In this CBS Sport preview for one of the Tigers games, they had quotes from Bubba Starling about adjusting to the big leagues.

“From Triple-A to here, the spin is different,” Starling said prior to Tuesday’s game. “The late movement is harder to pick up. It’s a work in progress. I faced (Baltimore’ Dylan) Bundy the first time and he K’d me three times. The last time, I felt better against him. I think it’s a matter of facing guys more and more and getting more confident.

FML’s About/Contact page, contains the words “hyper-local”, “built for the current digital age”, “strategic partnerships”, “the next level of the story”, and “all levels of the sports content pipeline”. I have no idea.

Speaking of the Tigers series, some odd moments on the broadcast yesterday:

Fansided is cranking out stories at a crazy rate these days:


Royals listicles? You bet!

Eric Longenhagen at Fangraphs “Analyz[es] the American League September Call-Ups”:

Kansas City Royals– RHP Heath Fillmyer, 1B Ryan McBroom

If McBroom is good (he is not currently on THE BOARD), it might make sense for the Royals to flip him to a competitive team pretty quickly. The good teams with owner-imposed budget restrictions (Cleveland, Tampa Bay, Oakland, maybe Arizona) seem open to parting with talent in exchange for certainty and proximity (think about the trades Miami has been involved in lately, Cleveland’s trades dating back to last summer, and what the Rays have given up for relievers). Those types of teams would have incentive to pursue McBroom during his pre-arb big league seasons, while the higher-ceiling types of players might better suit Kansas City’s needs and competitive timeline. They need a core of stars more than they need a suitable role player who’ll be about 30 when they reasonably project to be a good team again.

Continuing on the prospect theme, MLB.com’s prospect writers listed “30 prospects who had big seasons in the Minors”. Prospect, prospect, prospect.

Royals: Kris Bubic, LHP (No. 6) In his first full year of pro ball out of Stanford, all Bubic did was lead all Minor League pitchers with 185 strikeouts. The 2019 Futures Gamer and Carolina League postseason All-Star only walked 2.53 per nine innings and held hitters to a .199 batting average across two levels of A ball.

Also at MLB.com, Jeffrey Flanagan answers the Royals section of Do-Hyoung Park’s “5 burning questions in the AL Central”:

Royals: Who will play center field in 2020?

Consider the month of September a bit of an audition for the center-field job next season. With a healthy Adalberto Mondesi back at shortstop, Nicky Lopez moves back to second base, which pushes Whit Merrifield back to right field.

Right now, both Brett Phillips and Bubba Starling provide excellent defense in center field. Phillips already has two five-star catches, per Statcast -- both in the last week. But both Phillips and Starling have struggled offensively, so each of them needs to show something at the plate in these final few weeks. Both Phillips and Starling can play a solid right field as well, but that’s where Merrifield will play down the stretch.

Depending on whether Alex Gordon will return in 2020, Merrifield could be an option in left field, which would free up Phillips or Starling to perhaps play right in 2020.

This seems like an odd selection on Chris Bengel’s “Key all-time September call-ups for every MLB team”:

Kansas City Royals Carlos Beltran (1998): The Royals haven’t exactly had the best track record in recent years when it comes to homegrown talent. However, they sure hit the nail on the head when it came to Carlos Beltran. When he was called up in 1998, Beltran burst onto the scene with a .276 batting average and seven RBI in 58 at-bats. During his first full MLB season the following year, Beltran won the American League Rookie of the Year award as he slugged 22 home runs and knocked in 108 RBI. Beltran had success just about everywhere he went and capped off his stellar career with a World Series as a member of the Houston Astros in 2017.

I mean, yeah, Beltran is a big name but .276 feels really pedestrian. Then again, I started Googling key Royals over the last couple of decades and none of them were September callups: Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Zack Greinke were all much earlier in the season. LoCain’s first callup was as in Milwaukee; Wade Davis’s was in Tampa, Salvy’s debut was in August and so was Greg Holland’s. The only (notable player) September callups I could find were as follows: Kelvin Herrera threw 2 innings in September 2011, Mike Sweeney went 1 for 4 in 4 games in 1995, and David DeJesus had 10 PAs in 2003. You win this round, Chris Bengel!

At ESPN, David Schoenfield ranks the “Worst performances in baseball at every position”. The Royals get featured prominently in the story. From a mention that they gave up Daniel Palka’s only hit on his 1 for 53 season to their position titles for worst 1B and CF in the majors. WE’RE NUMBER 1! WE’RE NUMBER 1!

1B: Kansas City Royals

The totals: .207/.271/.344, 16 HRs, 64 runs, 58 RBIs

Why do I get the feeling that every position on this list could come from the AL Central? Come on, AL Central, do better. The main culprit here: Ryan O’Hearn, who has hit .179 in 303 plate appearances, proving that his fluky September last year was, indeed, a fluke.


Yes, around the MLB there are pennant races. But there’s also some fun, goofy September stuff going on.

Yesterday, Lorenzen made more history:

By pitching on Wednesday and starting in center field on Thursday, Lorenzen becomes the first pitcher to start in the outfield the game after pitching since Don Robinson in 1984, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Robinson pitched in the first game of a doubleheader on September 30, also against the Phillies, and then starting and played left field in the second game.

Long time minor leaguer, now Pittsburgh Pirate, Brian Moran also made baseball history.

It’s been more than a decade since the left-handed pitcher was selected by the Mariners in the seventh round of the 2009 Draft. During that time, he’s pitched in the Minors, recovered from Tommy John surgery, bounced in and out of the independent Atlantic League, grinded through winter ball and waited for his chance.

But what were the odds that when Brian’s turn came, when he finally scaled a Major League mound for the first time, he’d be staring down his younger brother? It happened in the fourth inning of the Marlins’ 10-7 win on Thursday night at PNC Park. Brian, the Marlins left-hander, made his MLB debut and struck out Pirates third baseman Colin Moran with a full-count slider.

Tony Wolfe of Fangraphs wrote one of those lovely baseball-as-poetry stories about Wilson Ramos’s 26 game hit streak that just came to an end. He gets bonus points for referencing Whit’s 31 game hit streak (wow - that ended this year? I’d already forgotten), speaking to the rarity of hit streaks now, and linking to Norm MacDonald’s brilliant moth joke. Bravo, sir.

Speaking of baseball poetry, I get to feature another of Dan Szymborski “Elegy for the Season”. This one is for the Tigers.

What surprised me about the Tigers wasn’t how far they fell after their start, but how long they managed to stay within shouting distance of a .500 record. Detroit was within a game of .500 as late as May 9, despite ranking 29th in baseball in runs scored behind only the Miami Marlins, a team I strongly suspect of filling out the back of their 25-man roster through some kind of fan raffle.

Also at Fangraphs, Craig Edwards looks at “The Mystery of Justin Verlander’s Home Runs”:

The mystery behind Verlander’s gaudy home run totals isn’t really much of one. He’s a homer-prone pitcher making homer-friendly pitches among his strikeout-inducing, walk-avoiding offerings. That’s who he was before this season and he stepped into a year where balls are reaching the seats like never before. What the home runs are doing is obscuring the real argument about how well Verlander is pitching, and clouding the benefits of playing in front of a good defense (and never having to face the Astros offense). Verlander is having another great season, one that merits Cy Young award consideration if not the award itself, but the home run question shouldn’t push his FIP close to his ERA when we contextualize Verlander’s year. Rather, it’s the Astros defense that should be pushing his ERA towards his FIP.

Anytime you can add Mike Trout to an article, you should, right? Same with Ken Griffey Jr. MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger gets to put together the best player of this generation with one of the best of the last.

Trout, aiming to win his third American League MVP Award, is the first AL center fielder to hit 45 or more homers in a season since Ken Griffey Jr. hit 48 in 1999, and he is also now two homers shy of tying Troy Glaus for the club record with 47, set in 2000. Trout, who has already surpassed his career high of 41 homers set in 2015, has never led the American League in homers and is up on Kansas City’s Jorge Soler by five blasts.

Minor league player forgets to touch plate on home run, turns it into “triple and 1-2 putout”. Video included, of course. Did I mention it was a playoff game, too?

Last night’s Mariners-Astros recap at Lookout Landing is what happens when your team blows a 7-0 lead in a season where you started 13-2 but, come September, have a chance at 100 losses.

This is probably not a shock, but a team just broke the NL record for home runs in a season now that it’s, looks at calendar, September 6th. Any guess as to which one? This one’s a bit more tricky than it appears on the surface as THREE OTHER TEAMS ARE ON PACE TO BEAT THE RECORD, TOO (at least when I looked up the team leaders on b-r last night).

(I wish I could use spoiler text in here, but, alas, I can’t so I’ll just leave some space)

(space)

(more space)

(even more space)

A: “The Dodgers have hit 250 on the year, surpassing the Houston Astros’ previous record of 249, which they set in 2000.” The other three teams also on pace: Braves, Cubs, Brewers


Rerun time. Since I heard this song this week, we’re going with the Elite Beat Agents version of “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire. We already covered this weird but awesome game here. Oh, hey! It’s also September. I definitely meant to do that!