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Royals Rumblings - News for June 18, 2021

Happy Friday!

Detroit Tigers v Kansas City Royals
Happier Times
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Here’s your daily Alec Lewis at The Athletic:

Another paywall-y item, this one from The Star

Also at The Star, Pete Grathoff tells the story of a Tweet that “insinuated” the Royals might have cheated in 2015. I do love one retort cited in the story:

Hey, anyone know who is pitching tonight?

Sounds like a “nope”.

From the realm of made up internet holidays:

Listicle? The Royals were #2 in Ben Clemens (Fangraphs) list of “Best Bunts of the Season (So Far)”:

2. April 21, Nicky Lopez, Kansas City Royals

The situation: Bottom of the ninth, down by a run, with a runner on third and one out. It’s not just any runner, though; Jarrod Dyson, still one of the best baserunners in the game at 36, had already stolen a bag and advanced on a grounder. Lopez leads the majors in sacrifice bunts this year; a squeeze play felt like a decent bet, and the Rays put a few infielders on the grass to account for it.

The gain: +0.22 WPA

Some plays are just undefendable. Dyson is fast. Diego Castillo isn’t an elite fielder. Lopez is a solid bunter (when he’s not popping into triple plays). Joey Wendle couldn’t start early, because Dyson could simply follow him down the line. A side angle shows the futility in trying to stop a run from scoring here:

What can you do other than tip your cap? The only way that Tampa Bay could have turned this play into an out is if Mike Zunino abandoned home plate and tried to reach the ball and throw to first, but good luck telling a catcher to abandon home plate with the tying run bearing down. This play is why bunts still capture the imagination, even if they’re often a bad tactical decision by the numbers.

And, yes, Lopez’s bunt triple play made the Worst Bunts of the Season (So Far) list.

Royals blogs?

Alex Duvall has updated the draft board at Royals Farm Report. I keep seeing mock drafts with Kumar Rocker somehow falling to the Royals at 7. I really like picking hitters over pitchers but if Rocker is somehow still around because everyone at the top gets cute, I mean, geez - do the easy thing and just make the pick. We’ve been seeing draft buzz about him for more than 2 years - the pedigree doesn’t get any better.

At Inside the Crown, David Lesky laments the Royals recent play:

It’s bad, everyone. Things are arguably worse right now than when the Royals lost 11 in a row just a month ago. Why? Now they’re both injured and bad. The team was largely losing 11 in a row with the team they expected to have out of spring training aside from Adalberto Mondesi (more on him to come). That streak started with a blowout loss to Minnesota and then three really bad losses to Cleveland before they were mostly not a part of any game other than one in Detroit that they made a late attempt at a massive comeback.

As did Craig Brown at Into the Fountains (Thursdays also have guest Colby Wilson):

Did we just witness the Royals’ worst loss of 2021? It’s a fair question that I began considering during Wednesday’s 6-5 defeat to the Tigers. The game wasn’t as close as the score would make it appear, even though the Royals brought the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth. It was their sixth consecutive loss and they’ve now dropped 11 of their last 12. And this is a team that lost 11 in a row a little over a month ago!

Kevin O’Brien at Royals Reporter takes a deep dive on Hunter Dozier:

The three key percentiles that stick out from the chart above are his whiff rate, chase rate, and K rate, which all rank below the 25th percentile. Another one that is slightly concerning as well is his walk rate, which ranks in the 41st percentile. While at the surface level that isn’t the worst mark (the Royals have plenty of hitters that do not touch that percentile ranking), it is a sign of regression from Dozier in this category.

I’m trying to decide what to do with the new Sports Illustrated-affiliated FanNation Inside the Royals. They’re kindof closer to Fansided than the above but they’re also just starting out. So we’ll go with bullets for now:

Other blog notes:

Almost all of the MLB news is dominated by the foreign substance kerfuffle. Max covered it for RR here. Dayn Perry at CBS Sports wrote a short history of foreign substances. It’s been around forever. It’s kindof enforced every time there’s a dead ball era and then the rules relax. Honestly, it feels like MLB and Scott Boras are making more of a deal of it than there is so I’m just going to leave it at that.

Speaking of MLB, they relaxed COVID restrictions for vaccinated players. In case you were curious where everyone was at:

Clubhouse social distancing was eliminated for all teams reaching 85% vaccination among tier 1 individuals such as players, managers, coaches and training staff. As of last Friday, 22 of the 30 teams had reached 85% among tier 1 individuals.

How about some actual on-the-field baseball news? The Yankees turned the first 1-3-6-2-5-6 triple play in history yesterday against the Blue Jays, aided by some awful base running. That’s more like a little league triple play but, hey, it counts.

Without much going on with KC baseball or around the league yesterday, how about we check in across the pond? Here’s a link to my preview from back in March. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll look at where the CPBL, KBO, and NPB are now.

Let’s start with Taiwan’s CPBL. There was this nugget I wrote back in April:

When last we left him in the CPBL, former Royals BFSITHOW farmhand Tim Melville helped pitch the Uni-Lions to the 2020 title. Last Friday, he was making more history, throwing a 143 (!!) pitch no-hitter in a 13-0 game.

The league was already going to have some scheduling quirks due to 5 teams in the league and the Summer Olympics playing havoc with it. Unfortunately, something more significant intervened: COVID-19.

Last year, the CPBL was the first “major” professional sports league to get underway after the world shut down for COVID in the Spring. Taiwan was hailed as a model of how to deal with the pandemic. The densely populated island nation of over 20 million enacted a strict lockdown, early in the pandemic, resulting in only a few hundred cases in the entire country for all of 2020.

Unfortunately, the past month has seen a huge reversal. In the year between May 2020 and April 2021, there have only been a handful of days with double digit cases of COVID in the country, almost all tied to imported cases. But starting May 10, new case numbers were the following: 15, 11, 21, 25, 34, 185, 207, 335, 245, 275, 295, 315, 723 (May 22 peak). Per wiki:

As confirmed by the government on 13 May through genetic analysis, the outbreak arose from a cluster of cases among China Airlines pilots that had developed since late April.The pilots had been staying at a hotel at Taoyuan International Airport which, in violation of COVID-19 rules, had also housed non-quarantine guests. The hotel was evacuated from 29 April and sterilized. The cluster eventually grew to include at least a dozen pilots, several of their family members, at least one flight attendant, and cases at hostess bars in Wanhua District. Reluctance to disclose recent visits to the area proved to be a hindrance in contact tracing. Many of the cases were found to belong to the more transmissible Alpha variant of the coronavirus.

Basically, a slow rollout of vaccinations due to a host of political reasons (I suspect China’s complicated relationship with Taiwan plays a major role here) combined with some pandemic fatigue and new more virulent strains imported via reopening has caused the virus to explode there. Taiwan has had to take steps they thought they had avoided last year. For instance, face-to-face school was shut down in May, new restrictions are in place, and many businesses have had to make significant adjustments.

This includes the CPBL, which suspended for a week back on May 17 and now the season is suspended indefinitely. Hopefully they can get shots in the arm, get the pandemic back under control (as much as one can control a pandemic), and get back to baseball.

I was so hyped to see a new Advanced Wars game announced at Nintendo’s E3 Nintendo Direct. I fired up the trailer, which opened with a new remix of Sami’s awesome theme music... But then I saw the battle animations, which look worse (at least style-wise) than the 20 year old original.

And then I realized it was just a remake of 1&2. And now I’m back to being mostly disappointed, with the light hope that if it sells well enough (it probably won’t), they’ll resurrect the series and start making new games. For those who don’t remember, the original two games in this series were almost universally praised as some of the best games in the GBA’s robust library.

This style of war games are really hard to do, thematically. Fire Emblem and countless others run into this, too. They gloss past the horrors of war and, instead, all the battles in the first half of the game are each just one little misunderstanding after another (never mind the destruction over here or the dead bodies over there). Because, in the second half of the game, all the main characters join up against the real evil villain. I think there’s this really fine line between cartoony naive and just plain goofy and, in the trailer, the remakes fall too hard into the latter.

As for today’s song, we’ve done some of the CO themes in previous years. This time, we’ll use the one for the big baddie, Sturm.