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Royals Rumblings - News for January 24, 2020

Busiest Rumblings Friday in a while

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Seattle Mariners vs. Kansas City Royals
The Kid!

The Royals will be honoring former owner David Glass with a uniform patch during the 2020 season. Is it morbid to think that’s a pretty sweet looking patch?

The press release about it is here:

Alec Lewis at The Athletic (sub required) writes about Alex Gordon’s return:

And we can tie them both together with this Tweet:

More Tweets! Fanfest starts today:

I know it’s only January, but are you ready for “Best Shape of His Life” stories? Jeffrey Flanagan, scribe, talked to Nicky Lopez, who followed the Whit Merrifield diet this offseason:

Lopez, 24, told in August that he was considering highlighting his offseason with the same extreme diet and workout regimen Whit Merrifield implemented the fall of 2015, in hopes of getting stronger the way Merrifield transformed his body and career back then. The results are encouraging: Lopez, who said he was at 165 pounds toward the end of September, is now at approximately 183 pounds entering Spring Training. “I feel way stronger,” Lopez told by phone. “I feel the ball is jumping off my bat.”

Speaking of Whit, yesterday, Max linked to an interview he had with Clubhouse Conversation. A couple of outlets, including USA Today, wrote stories around one of his quotes, in particular:

“I’m going to consider myself an All-Star (for that year) with all this stuff that’s come out,” Merrifield said in an interview with Clubhouse Conversation. “Because MLB player: Astros cheating kept me from being All Star that game. We’ll put an asterisk by 2018. And on top of it, we’ll go ahead and throw in a silver slugger for good measure.”


MLBTR was “Checking In On Last Season’s Worst Bullpens”. Guess who was on the list?

Kansas City Royals (5.07 ERA/4.55 FIP)

Kansas City’s another team that has been quiet in the past few months, despite its less-than-stellar output a year ago. There are a couple bullpen trade candidates on hand in Ian Kennedy and Tim Hill, arguably the Royals’ two best relievers, but nothing has materialized on those fronts thus far. Kennedy was terrific last season in his first year as a reliever, though the fact that he’s due $16.5MM in 2020 has likely scared off interested teams.

I don’t tend to put a lot of fantasy baseball news in Rumblings, but I’d love to believe this CBS Sports projection:

One of the 2020 Fantasy baseball sleepers the model is all over: Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi. In 2018, Mondesi slashed .276/.306/.498 with 14 home runs and 32 stolen bases in a half-season, but his numbers receded last year.

Mondesi slashed .263/.291/.424 in 2019 and hit just nine home runs despite a BABIP that was 22 points higher (.357) than it was in 2018. That’s because Mondesi became more pull-centric (46.0 percent pull compared to 41.6 percent in 2018), his hard-hit contact rate dropped from 43.1 percent to 37.8 percent, and his strikeout rate climbed from 26.5 percent to 29.8 percent.

With a few adjustments, Mondesi can get back to using more of the field to fight the shift, reduce his strikeout rate and generate more lift. His 15 to 20 home run power and defense (1.6 WAR defensively in 2019) should guarantee he remains in the lineup to work towards those goals. That’s why the model ranks him as its No. 7 shortstop for 2020 despite a current Fantasy baseball ADP of 17.

Ok, I feel pretty bad about this, but you Fansided guys (gender neutral usage here) know that I try to do right by you. However, I’m still getting over being sick earlier this week, we’re already going to be over 2000 words, a hefty Rumblings, and I need sleep. So, I’m just going to link to the sites and mention that there are new stories at Kings of Kauffman (5!), KC Kingdom (2), and this story at Call to the Pen.

We didn’t start off this way, but we, at the Best of Royals Review (TM), are unofficially making January a month for game threads. This time, it’s a game from 2014: Royals not televised, so here’s their 7-3 loss re-enacted with Legos.

It has everything: baseball, Max’s Lego collection, “a robot-spider from the evil Lord Garmadon”, and “inanimate carbon rod Jeff Montgomery”. Everything was awesome.

There was some strong murmurs (mixed with elation) as rumors of robots calling balls and strikes in Spring Training. However, it is not to be (yet):

The umpires’ committee released a statement to ESPN on Wednesday evening that read: “Reports that MLB will use ‘robo-umps’ to call balls and strikes in spring training games this year are completely inaccurate. ... Our understanding is that a camera-based tracking system will be running in the background during some spring training games for technology development and training purposes. But any game in which a Major League Baseball umpire is working will have a human calling balls and strikes.” A Major League Baseball official confirmed this.

Scott Boras being, well, Scott Boras:

Speaking of sign-stealing, Jake Mailhot at Fangraphs asks “How Much Did the Red Sox Benefit from Their Sign-Stealing Scheme?

When we compare their aggregate run values from 2017 to 2018, I estimate they gained a total cumulative value around five wins — the same estimated benefit the Astros saw with their sign-stealing scheme in 2017. And of course, that doesn’t completely account for the effects that are difficult to quantify, such as the cumulative benefit of requiring opposing pitchers to throw more pitches as hitters lay off of offspeed deliveries designed to entice a swing and a miss.

Here’s some random other sports (and game) stories from this week that you might have missed.

John Breech at CBS Sports took a (sort of) detailed how Super Bowl tickets are distributed.

The reason tickets are so hard to get is because the Super Bowl is the one game where the NFL accounts for every single ticket. There are no tickets sold to the general public. The league distributes tickets to all 32 teams and then keeps a cut for itself... Although the NFL doesn’t release face value prices for the Super Bowl anymore, the lowest face value ticket at Super Bowl LI was $950, which means the price is now likely more than $1,000 for the cheapest seat in the stadium.

A certain local fight made some headlines this past week. But flying under the radar was, the, um, storied - yeah, we’ll go with that, “storied” mascot Gritty. The Philadelphia Flyers mascot is being investigate for assault.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Philadelphia Flyers
Definitely not nightmare fuel
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

And, of course, because it’s Friday: The UK is releasing video game stamps.

One new set includes four stamps that chart the evolution of the popular Tomb Raider game and its main character — archaeologist adventurer Lara Croft. The Tomb Raider video game franchise has sold over 74 million copies worldwide. The franchise also includes a series of movies based on the original Tomb Raider game, including a 2013 movie reboot... Other stamps feature art from the UK-created retro video games Elite, Dizzy, Populous, Lemmings, Micro Machines, Sensible Soccer, Wipeout and Worms.

Michael Clair from created a list of “10 greatest baseball video games ever made” a couple of weeks ago. Like most lists, it’s going to be imperfect, at best, but it gives us something to use as a jumping off point for this week’s game. The #2 game on the list is our game of the day, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

First, let’s check out the rest of the list. The #1 game on the list was MVP Baseball 2005. I’m not sure I could tell the difference between 2003 through 2007 so it seems really specific to name the the top one. #3 MLB: The Show is, well, the only baseball game that’s existed for the past half decade due to baseball’s short sighted exclusivity agreement. The entries are generally good but it’s sad to have no competition. #8’s Triple Play was similar, but in an era of competition. Entries 5, 6, and 9 are NES games that have pretty established spots in baseball game history: Baseball Stars, RBI Baseball, and Base Wars. #4 is Backyard Baseball, a game that I missed out on. It’s simplistic but well-received and I missed out on it. Similarly, I’m not very familiar with #7’s MLB Slugfest. Finally, #10 is text-based juggernaut OOTP.

There’s a lot of talk that the 16-bit generation was a golden era for video games. With limited technology, programmers in the 8-bit 80s had to distill what they were representing down to its simplest essences (It also goes follows that theory that the 64-bit 5th generation was a huge step back that we’ve never recovered from, trading more realistic graphics for fetch quests and video games as second jobs to maintain complexity).

Today’s game of the day is Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball for the Super Nintendo. It had simple yet precise gameplay, a good balance of “video game”-ness that felt both real but fun. It had a pretty steep learning curve, but, well, frankly, most games did back in that time period. It had a number of cool new features like giving (most) teams unique stadiums, good music (including playing the Canadian national anthem in Toronto or Montreal), and saved stats while playing a full season.

However, it was not without problems. Per wiki: “A Nintendo Customer Service representative acknowledged this bug, further claimed that sometimes during the World Series players are prevented from using their best pitchers, and bluntly summarized, ‘Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball sports some pretty serious bugs.’” Probably not ideal when your customer service center says a game has serious bugs.

It also had an MLB license but not MLBPA license so players names were not included except for the title player’s. However, one of its most charming things is what they did with the player names. Each team had a theme. For instance:

  • “The California Angels have famous actors on their team: F. Astaire fills in for outfielder Chad Curtis, H. Bogart stands in for Chili Davis, and J. Wayne fills in for first baseman J. T. Snow”
  • “The Houston Astros are cartoonists: G. Larson fills in for pitcher Todd Jones, W. Eisner fills in for second baseman Craig Biggio, J.Kirby stands in for first baseman Jeff Bagwell, F.Miller fills in for infielder Casey Candaele, B.Edlund fills in for pitcher Pete Harnisch, and S. Lee stands in for Rick Parker”
  • “The Philadelphia Phillies feature a Rocky homage in R. Balboa fills in for catcher Darren Daulton and A. Creed stands in for third baseman Dave Hollins; They also have a Philadelphia landmark – L. Bell filling in for first baseman Ricky Jordan”.

The Royals were US Presidents. If you want to check out the entire roster, a blogger collected them here. For instance, George Brett was D. Ike, Kevin Appier was B. Clinton, and David Cone was G. Bush.

Here’s a video of a gameplay, starting with the rocking Star Spangled Banner riff, featuring Ken Griffey Jr’s team and a home run by the kid around the 4:50 mark, in wonderfully rendered Wrigley Field: