Boy, Wednesday was a really fun game. That was definitely a 2013-2014 Royals game. But this team just lost their first series and is going to come back to earth. The rebuild isn’t far enough along and I’m not even sure this one will be a good enough rebuild. In short, this team just isn’t ready to win yet. Time to go read my morning Fangrap- Holy Szymborski! This is not a drill!! RED ALERT! RED ALERT!
Yes, the Royals Can Win the AL Central by Dan Szymborski
Well, that’s all I needed to see. Don’t need to read the article at all. Not one word. And I’m going to read that “can” as “will”. And I’m definitely not reading the next couple paragraphs critically:
Having a one-in-five chance to make the playoffs and an 8% change to win the division still leaves the Royals an underdog, but that’s a big jump from the final preseason projections, which had them at 6% and 2%, respectively. The games already in the hopper only represent about 10% of the season, but it’s 10% of the season in which the Royals have a small lead on the White Sox and a healthy margin over the Twins. The rest of the season can still be classified as a marathon, but starting a bit ahead of your competitors sure is nice...
If I tell ZiPS that the Royals win two more games this year than their current projections, their playoff probability jumps to over one-in-three (35%). The NL would be a tougher nut to crack, but there are no juggernauts in the American League, at least at the moment.
Are the Royals likely to play postseason baseball this year? Not really. But there’s a realistic chance, and, let’s be honest, it would be fun to see them pay homage to Ewing Kauffman and Royals past.
Insert Dumb and Dumber “So you’re telling me there’s a chance” .gif! (Don’t think about 18-11. Don’t think about 18-11. Don’t think about 18-11.)
Sure, there’s a chance this is the Royals high point for playoff odds in the season. On the other hand, 20% isn’t nothing. It’s something to dream on, especially if there’s a nice add by trade or prospect coming up...
Speaking of Szymborski (crap, that’s the third time), bonus article from him about the “most irreplaceable players”. There are no Royals but injuries to divisional foes Luis Robert and Byron Buxton would drop their respective teams’ playoff chances by over 20%. I definitely don’t wish injury on someone just to help the Royals. But it does remind you how tenuous some of these playoff positions can be.
Also at Fangraphs, Eric Longenhagen had a scouting report from Asa Lacy’s professional debut:
Asa Lacy, LHP, Kansas City Royals
Lacy’s first career pro outing against hitters from another org lasted two innings (the second of which was rolled), and was more of a check-in to see where he’s at rather than a look that should alter anyone’s opinion of him. I went into this look knowing that some scouts had seen him throw a live BP about a week and a half earlier and that Lacy was pretty wild during that outing, which is totally fine considering he’s just getting going for the year. He was a little wild in my look, too, and to my eye seemed to have a noticeably lower arm slot while throwing some of his sliders, even during warm-ups.
Lacy came out sitting 94-96 in his first inning of work and then was 95-98 in the second. He doesn’t need to have precise fastball command because his is the sort of fastball that has huge carry and can compete for swings and misses in the zone. Maybe it’s because of the arm slot variation stuff, or because it’s a developmental focus for him, or just because Lacy faced so many right-handed batters, but he ended up throwing many more changeups than anything else during this outing. They were often in the 85-88 mph range and some of them were quite good, while others were not. He broke off a single plus curveball (his curves were about 80-81) that froze a righty hitter and landed in the zone for a strike, while Lacy’s sliders (86-ish) often missed well below the zone but still garnered some awkward swings.
So long as you’re willing to chalk the command issues up to it simply being early (I am), Lacy looked every bit like the No. 2 overall pick in a draft. He has elite left-handed velocity, two plus breaking balls, and a viable changeup that he has feel for locating competitively. If his command issues persist, he may merely be similar to Blake Snell.
Alec Lewis at The Athletic (sub required) wrote about Wednesday’s game:
NEW — They trailed early. They came back. They trailed again. And again. And yet they just kept coming.— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) April 22, 2021
“I love this team.”
What the Royals showed tonight:https://t.co/CzvWHVZpbi
At MLB.com, Anne Rogers gets the Royals listicle entry for “5 AL Central players who can turn it around”:
Royals: DH Jorge Soler
Soler has struggled to start the season, hitting just .156 (7-for-45) with one home run and five RBIs through the first 15 games. In that span, he struck out 22 times, including a stretch last week where he struck out seven times in a row. But if history tells us anything, it’s that Soler can produce when he’s healthy. When Soler led the American League in home runs (48) in 2019, he played all 162 games for his first season of 100 games or more since 2015 with the Cubs. And he’s played all but one of the Royals’ 17 games this season, indicating manager Mike Matheny’s belief that the most powerful hitter on the team will turn it around. There have been good signs from Soler lately: On Tuesday against the Rays, Soler launched two hard-hit balls that ended up being deep flyouts. One was 107.3 mph off the bat and Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier caught it at Kauffman Stadium’s warning track — 393 feet from home plate. If Soler can bring down his whiff percentage (38.6 percent, the highest of his career so far), stay healthy and continue to barrel balls, he’ll be the force in the Royals’ lineup that they will need him to be.
Alex Duvall of Royals Farm Report looks at some options in the upcoming draft:
I’ve been writing a few different editions of this same basic post for a while now. The problem I’m running into is that there are like 10 different directions I can see Kansas City going this summer and a few involve them taking a prep bat. It feels like there are certain players that have played their way out of consideration at #7 (Leiter is surely going 1 or 2 and others have fallen off) and others have played their way in. With that said, would it surprise anyone if the Royals took K-State LHP Jordan Wicks for $2.5M under slot value and saved the money for their next pick at #43 (think Dozier/Manaea). This is why it’s starting to become difficult to project who is worth following and who isn’t. In any case, I’m going to keep updating you on some college guys I like regardless if the talent is that of a normal #7 overall pick. Just keep in mind that there could be some draft day shenanigans that keep all of these guys in play at both #7 and #43.
Lots of blogging around Wednesday’s fun win:
From Craig Brown at Into the Fountains:
Perez propelled his team to wins in five—five!—of the six wins on the homestand. With both the bat and with the glove. It was a tour de force from the Royals’ leader. A complete performance. Yeah, it’s early…but it’s not too early to appreciate the contributions Perez has already made to the 2021 Royals. Big hit after big hit. Key play after key play. He’s doing it all, and the Royals are winning.
David Lesky at Inside the Crown writes about the game and then digs into Jorge Soler:
The thing about Soler is that he’s predictable. He doesn’t start fast and when he’s not going well, oh boy do we all know it. There are ugly swings and bad takes and more ugly swings and then some more bad takes and then some really ugly swings. But you can also tell when he’s on the verge of something really big. The swings get a bit more controlled. The ball travels off the bat a little bit harder. And usually it starts with someone pretty small.
- David Scharff (KOK): “Win or loss, it’s obvious this team is different”
- Mike Gillespie (KOK): “Can the KC Royals contend with this starting rotation?”
- Leigh Oleszczak (KCK): “Salvador Perez continues to be clutch for the Kansas City Royals”
- Angela Sawyer (KCK): “Kyle Zimmer and Jakob Junis have pleasantly surprised”
Shane Bieber is doing crazy strikeout things. He’s the first player ever to strike out 10 or more in his first four games of the season and he tied Nolan Ryan for most strikeouts in first four games of the season.
Defending (2019) Home Run Derby champion Pete Alonso would like to be invited to this year’s in Coors Field. Please, please, please, MLB, do not use the humidor for Home Run Derby.
At CBS Sports, Mike Axisa talks about the early returns from the “deadened” baseball:
In that sense, MLB’s efforts to deaden the baseball have worked. The home run rate is down slightly, which theoretically creates an incentive to focus on contact and putting the ball in play. The problem? Contact is way down and strikeouts are once again at an all-time high... This is on pace to go down as the most swing-and-miss and strikeout-heavy season in history.
Spin rates are up across baseball and pitch movement is up across baseball as well. Velocity is up too. There are indications the new baseball, which was intended to suppress home runs, has exacerbated the league’s strikeout problem. Several pitchers said the new ball is easier to grip in spring training, and a better grip ostensibly equals more spin and more movement.
Speaking of yikes. In what’s probably a surprise to no one, even with the Kim Ng hiring, baseball is still very much a man’s world. Joon Lee reports on this for ESPN:
“You really have to be a tough cookie because you go through a lot of s---.” she said. “And it’s not just people giving you bad looks, but it’s sexual harassment, it’s guys touching you inappropriately, it’s ticket guys not giving you your ticket, it’s being kicked out of your seat.”
The league operations analyst recounted an incident in which players got into the back seat of her car during an airport pickup and immediately began talking about her in Spanish, thinking she could not understand what they were saying.
“[The players] start talking s--- about me in the car or talk about if I’m hot or whatever, and I can understand everything,” she said. “Two hours into the car ride, I laugh at a joke they say in Spanish and they realize it and they’re like, ‘Oh.’ It’s that moment with men talking to men in the room and someone says a joke and one of us is in the corner and will be like, ‘What?’ and we’ll be like, ‘Remember, we work here in the room,’ and the tone immediately changes.
I have no idea what to do with this. I was originally just going to link to a story about it, but as it nominally has something to do with a big name baseball star, so I’ll throw it in as our Song of the Day.
Call of Duty Warzone is an online battle royale game, coming in the wake of massive hits Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG).
Clearly business is good as:
The trailer features athletes like Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Lakers point guard Dennis Schroder, Aston Villa winger Jack Grealish, and gamers Nadeshot and Rocky No Hands. Other celebrities in the trailer include hip-hop artists Young Thug, Gunna, Swae Lee, Saweetie, Jack Harlow, and AJ Tracey, as well as Druski and Michelle Viscusi.
I have to admit - I haven’t played any of these games. I never had good enough reflexes for first person shooters and I’ve mostly aged out of real time strategy games. So if you combine the two, that’s not going to be my genre.
But I’m always willing to learn so I fired up the Google to see if I could find out some interesting tidbits about the game.
First off, the game came out last March at the start of the pandemic and, by December, had been played by over 85 million people.
While the game is free-to-play, Activision makes its money on microtransactions. It’s hard to parse out the numbers as they like to combine all Call of Duty franchise numbers. But they announced 3rd quarter (July-Sept 2020) microtransaction revenue of $1.2B (yes, BILLION with a “b”).
Apparently, cheating is a bit of a problem in the game and more than 100K people have been banned this year. Amusingly, many hacks contain malware so maybe best to not try that.
Anyone who plays these types of games regularly want to share some experiences or stories in the comments below?