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Most Beloved (Obscure) Royals: Round of 32, part 2

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Round 2 for the Lost Causes and Random regions

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The tournament keeps moving forward, and we have some interesting match-ups this time. In the Lost Causes region, we have the semifinals in the “Next Big Thing” subregion, where Tom Gordon, Mark Teahen, Luke Hochevar, and Jeremy Affeldt remain, and in the “Saber-Darlings” subregion, down to Bill Pecota, Jon Nunnally, Kila Ka’aihue, and Johnny Giavotella.

The Random Region had four subregions, and each is at the “championship” stage. Who is your favorite...

One-Tool Wonder: Steve Balboni or Tom Goodwin?

Meme Guy: Mitch Maier or Ken Harvey?

Funny Name: Pete LaCock or Buddy Biancalana?

Surprise: Jim Eisenreich or Pat Sheridan?

Here’s this side of the bracket so far:

Lost Causes Region

“Next Big Thing” Semifinals

#1 Tom Gordon vs. #8 Mark Teahen

In the NCAA basketball tournament, I have observed that often the #1 seed who coasts to the easiest blowout win in the first round gets tested the hardest in round 2. This might prove true here. Tom Gordon had the biggest round one win of anyone, securing more than 90% of the votes (#16 Gary Thurman only got 15 votes). But I suspect Mark Teahen will be much closer. Teahen won easily over Michael Tucker in round 1.

Poll

Tom Gordon or Mark Teahen?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    Tom Gordon
    (264 votes)
  • 30%
    Mark Teahen
    (114 votes)
378 votes total Vote Now

#4 Luke Hochevar vs. #5 Jeremy Affeldt

In the first round, Hochevar beat Clint Hurdle with 59% of the vote, and Affeldt easily beat Carlos Febles, winning 74% of the vote.

How you feel about Luke Hochevar probably has a lot to do with whether your feelings on him were calcified while he was a struggling, frustrating starter who seemed like a waste of a first overall pick or when he was a shutdown reliever and postseason hero. Likewise, if you like Affeldt, it’s probably related to the promise he showed and the hopes you put into him in 2002/03, not the hopes he helped crush in game 7 of the 2014 World Series.

Poll

Luke Hochevar or Jeremy Affeldt?

This poll is closed

  • 77%
    Luke Hochevar
    (294 votes)
  • 22%
    Jeremy Affeldt
    (83 votes)
377 votes total Vote Now

“Saber-Darlings” Semifinals

#2 Bill Pecota vs. #7 Jon Nunnally

Pecota got about three-quarters of the vote against big Calvin Pickering in round one, and Nunnally edged Tony Graffanino by 54 votes.

Before Pecota was the namesake of Fangraphs’ player projection system, he had a moment in the sun on This Week in Baseball, which aired his self-parody of the “Bo Knows” ads:

Poll

Bill Pecota or Jon Nunnally?

This poll is closed

  • 74%
    Bill Pecota
    (269 votes)
  • 25%
    Jon Nunnally
    (92 votes)
361 votes total Vote Now

#11 Johnny Giavotella vs. #14 Kila Ka’aihue

Every bracket needs a second-round “Cinderella” match-up between two double-digit seeds, and what better bracket to feature such a match-up than the Lost Causes bracket?

The Hawaiian minor-league slugger Kila Ka’aihue nearly doubled up #3 seed Dee Brown in round one, and Johnny Giavotella had an even easier victory over #6 Felipe Paulino. These guys have similar stories: they posted big numbers in the high minors while weak players with no upside occupied their positions in the majors. Both failed to impress in limited opportunities, and both continued their careers in the AL West, with Giavotella having considerably more success than Kila.

Poll

Johnny Giavotella or Kila Ka’aihue?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Johnny Giavotella
    (241 votes)
  • 34%
    Kila Ka’aihue
    (127 votes)
368 votes total Vote Now

Random Region

“One-Tool Wonders” Final

#1 Steve Balboni vs. #9 Tom Goodwin

Our one-tool wonder final match-up is between “Bye-Bye” Balboni, the Royal most likely to hit a home run in any given at-bat in team history, and Tom Goodwin, who was really fast (and actually could hit for average a bit). Balboni bested speed merchant Terrance Gore in the first round very easily, scoring 72% of the vote. Goodwin likewise had an easy first-round win (71%) over LOOGY Jimmy Gobble.

Bill James once wrote that bad teams focus on what players can’t do, and good teams focus on maximizing what players can do. One negative example he gave was how teams, including the Royals, gave up on Ken Phelps. But the Royals’ trade for Balboni and picking up Goodwin off the scrap heap are examples of the Royals doing it right.

Poll

Steve Balboni or Tom Goodwin?

This poll is closed

  • 84%
    Steve Balboni
    (308 votes)
  • 15%
    Tom Goodwin
    (56 votes)
364 votes total Vote Now

“Meme Guys” Final

#4 Mitch Maier vs. #5 Ken Harvey

With the love for MITCH! on this site, there was little doubt that he would advance to the second round (although Sal Fasano held his own with more than 100 votes). And it appears that all the jokes at All-Star Ken Harvey’s expense doesn’t mean we don’t still love him, as he more than doubled up Luis Mendoza and his hair.

Which of these guys was better? If you go purely with WAR, Maier, who had a few more plate appearances, surpassed Harvey. Both bWAR and fWAR have Maier as a bit above replacement for his career, while each has Harvey below replacement. When you consider that Harvey was only a slightly better hitter over the course of his career (88 to 83 OPS+), you’d might expect the difference to be greater, but Maier’s defense was never rated all that high.

But talking about the stats of Meme Guys sort of misses the point. These guys are beloved because of the fun people had with them. Who is your favorite?

Poll

Mitch Maier or Ken Harvey?

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Mitch Maier
    (236 votes)
  • 34%
    Ken Harvey
    (124 votes)
360 votes total Vote Now

“Funny Names” Final

#2 Pete LaCock vs. #10 Buddy Biancalana

The quartet of funny name contenders were all old-school guys. I’m too young to remember late ‘70s first baseman Pete LaCock (other than a baseball card I had), and the most recent of the foursome, Hipolito Pichardo, last pitched for the Royals more than 20 years ago. So it’s possible that some of you voted based on name alone. But Pete LaCock was a much better player than Onix Concepcion, and he won with 65% of the vote. Pichardo was better than Biancalana, but he never appeared on David Letterman or for a Royals title-winning team, so it wasn’t surprising that Buddy won out with 70% of the vote.

Poll

Pete LaCock or Buddy Biancalana?

This poll is closed

  • 44%
    Pete LaCock
    (155 votes)
  • 55%
    Buddy Biancalana
    (197 votes)
352 votes total Vote Now

“Surprises” Final

#3 Jim Eisenreich vs. #11 Pat Sheridan

Pat Sheridan has surprised with close wins in both the play-in round (vs. Emil Brown) and the first round (vs. Darrell May), both times beating more recent Royals, albeit Royals from less successful teams. If he beats Jim Eisenreich, however, the “Surprises” group will certainly live up to its name. Eisenreich took 84% of his first round match-up with Esteban German, and as both a good player and a feel-good story, he’s a contender for the Final Four of the whole bracket.

Poll

Jim Eisenreich or Pat Sheridan?

This poll is closed

  • 88%
    Jim Eisenreich
    (314 votes)
  • 11%
    Pat Sheridan
    (41 votes)
355 votes total Vote Now

Sweet 16 coming soon.