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Royals Rumblings - News for September 17, 2021

Salvy takes center stage

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Oakland Athletics v Kansas City Royals
You record breaker, you!
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Royals mathematically eliminated. Let’s pour one out for the 2021 season.

That said, the big news yesterday was Salvador Perez. He hit a home run that was quite notable in so many ways. Let’s just tell this story in tweets.

Now shares catcher single season home run record with Hall of Famer Johnny Bench:

Speaking of Bench, his 1970 and 1972 seasons are the only time a catcher won the MLB home run crown. For 2021, Salvy has now tied Vlad Guerrero Jr.’s 45 and is one ahead of Shohei Ohtani’s 44:

It was his 197th career homer, tying him with Mike Sweeney for 2nd most in Royals history:

Lynn Worthy with a full article at The Star on his accomplishment:

In 56 games since the All-Star break this season, Perez has now hit 24 home runs. The Royals have 16 games remaining this season. Perez also sits just three back of Jorge Soler’s single-season franchise record of 48 homers set in 2019.

Man, it would be very cool to see him hit 5 over those last 16. Shatter the single-season C mark, win a MLB HR crown, and get the franchise record all in one nice round number 50.

Another article in The Athletic about Salvy’s season:

We’ve reached that point in the season where goofy stories are kindof fun, too. I think a number of us have seen Whit Merrified and Brady Singer playfully go after each other all season. The two faced off in a game of closest to the pin in Kauffman stadium and Singer won so he’s going to get to post something from Whit’s social media account. Stay tuned, I guess.

The Royals were one of six teams which had the average cost of a ballgame drop in 2021:

Still, prices are generally up across the league. Only six MLB teams — the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals — saw their average cost drop compared to 2020 prices. The Rockies led the way with a 3% drop. Incredibly, the 46-99 Baltimore Orioles saw the biggest increase in average price in 2021. The Orioles jumped a staggering 29.4%, an incredible figure for a team that has a .340 winning percentage since 2019.

Listicle? Jarrod Dyson’s bunt against the Cardinals on the sloppy, rain-filled game on August 8th (wait, that was only last month??) made Ben Clemens list of “Best Bunts of the Year” at Fangraphs.

I already wrote an article about this one! The gist of it is that Paul Goldschmidt had a tough decision to make when he fielded the ball. Make a perfect throw, and he might just get Alberto at second. That’s a big game, but I don’t think it actually made sense. With Alex Reyes on the mound, walks and strikeouts are most definitely on the menu; keeping runners out of scoring position matters slightly less there.

In any case, Dyson’s bunt simply gave the Cardinals enough room to do something risky. That could have worked out poorly for the Royals — sacrificing an out against a wild pitcher is asking for trouble. It could have worked out neutrally — getting a runner to second with one out has inherent value. It could have worked out quite well, if the Cardinals went for too much — and they did.

One factor that makes this bunt better than it might first appear: it was absolutely pouring in St. Louis. That was the last pitch thrown for roughly two hours; a weather delay immediately followed this play. Knowing that it would be tough to get a grip on the ball makes me like a bunt more; Dyson puts pressure on the defense with his speed as it is, but that speed combined with iffy conditions made this play a dangerous one right from the start, even if Goldschmidt had decided to go to first.

To the blogs!

David Lesky looks at Carlos Hernandez and Tyler Zuber getting tired.

It’s not a surprise that he’s worn down. I mentioned the innings before, but also he seems to have developed a different focus through his performances this season. Extra concentration takes extra out of you. He absolutely needs to be a bigger innings guy given both his frame and his upside, but that sort of thing happens slowly. He threw 14.2 competitive innings last season. He’s now thrown 107 this year. That doesn’t include spring training or the alternate site, so it’s not the exact number, but either way, he’s jumped quite a bit.

And what’s happening with the Royals staff right now is part of why I was so frustrated last season when the owners got into a urination challenge with the players about salaries and games played in 2020. If you’ll recall, they easily could have played 80-90 games and maybe a handful more than that even. A 60-game schedule will have an impact beyond 2021. I wrote about it last week (I think?) that the young pitchers were running up on their highest innings totals in at least two years, if not ever. A guy like Hernandez is hitting a wall at 100 or so innings, so where does he hit a wall next year? I don’t know. Maybe 130?

Craig Brown also takes note of this:

Consider the circumstance. Hernández, of course, had never pitched above A-ball before making his major league debut last summer. From 2017 to 2019, he averaged 66.3 innings per season with a high of 79.1 for Lexington in 2018. Last year, he threw 14.2 innings at the major league level. This year, between Omaha and Kansas City, Hernández has thrown 107 innings.

This is Hernandez’s pitch chart through his first three innings of work on Wednesday. It is the chart of a tired pitcher.

Finally, some quick hitters:

While sources had leaked this for a couple of days, MLB made the official announcement Thursday that Seattle will host the 2023 All-Star Game:

The Mariners had been in pursuit of hosting the event for the better part of the past three years, but that process became more accelerated in recent months. The club first put in a bid in ‘18 and had upgraded it annually since, but they had been eyeing the ‘24-25 range, and possibly as late as ’27, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Mariners’ first season.

Anyone see this on Wednesday night? In the Yankees-Orioles game, it looked like the umpire ejected the grounds crew. However, that was apparently not the case:

“I didn’t ‘eject’ the grounds crew,’’ Timmons said in a text to The Associated Press. “I just didn’t want all of them behind the tarp, especially with the infield in.’’ So on what soon became a wet night, the Baltimore brigade kept its record spotless, and didn’t join mascots and stadium organists on the list of strange ballpark ejections over the years.

In more Orioles news (pause for dramatic effect), Ryan Mountcastle hit his 29th HR of the season, breaking Cal Ripken Jr.’s franchise rookie record.

Lots of Angels news, too.

Mike Trout is all but officially done for the season. He was injured May 17th and originally supposed to be out 6-8 weeks, but he still hasn’t played since. Sadly, for all of us who love baseball and the pursuit of history, he’s only played 53 (due to the pandemic-shortened season) and 36 games the last two years, right in the prime of his career.

Speaking of historic, Shohei Ohtani may be done pitching this season due to a sore arm. He still will continue to DH for the team.

Oh, and Tony LaRussa definitely didn’t have his pitcher throw at Ohtani in the 9th inning of the last game of the season between the White Sox and Angels. Just ask him, after he’s done complaining about the inconsistent umpiring involving HBP in the series:

“I’m not gonna belabor this,” La Russa said. “It wasn’t intentional, he read it wrong, and it wasn’t consistent with the way that number one, they treated the three hit batsmen, and secondly, where was our retaliation? First the game yesterday, and today he made a mistake. It’s upsetting. It looks bad for our pitcher, our team, me. It disappoints me.”

I mean, if you look at the video, maybe it’s just super wild pitching by Mike Wright Jr. but it kindof looks like a guy trying to not try to hit a guy too bad.

As someone who has purchased a number of MLB Authentics both at the ballpark and online, I really enjoyed Yahoo’s Chris Cwik and his great story about the MLB Authentics program. I did not realize Tony Gwynn played a part in its founding:

San Diego Padres legend Tony Gwynn is unofficially credited with kick-starting the league’s authentication program, which launched in 2001. Gwynn reportedly came across merchandise being sold in Qualcomm Stadium that featured his autograph. Problem was, that wasn’t really Gwynn’s signature. It was a fake.

The FBI opened an investigation based on Gwynn’s complaint, and determined three-fourths of all autographs on the market at that time were fake. MLB recognized this was a major problem, and powered up its authentication program to ensure items sold by the league were the real thing.

Another fun nugget from the story:

Once a player approaches a significant milestone, authenticators place overt and covert marks on certain baseballs. When that player comes up to the plate during a game, the ballboy and umpire switch in the marked balls for that at-bat. Those marks allowed authenticators to retrieve and authenticate Cabrera’s 500th home run.

“Because we have these markings on the ball, we’re able to retrieve the ball,” Posner explains. “We’re going to know which number ball we’re looking for, so that kinda winnows the field of the ability of someone to bring in a fake ball. And then we have this covert mark on it which you can not see with the naked eye. It will not work under black light. It’s a process that’s very secure and we’ve been using it for a while.” Cabrera certainly appreciated getting the ball back, and said he would display it in his home.

It’s long past time to peek in on Asian baseball. Just a reminder, here was our preview this year. As well as updates a couple of months ago on the CPBL, KBO, and NPB.

Normally, we’d start at the CPBL and work our way up or start at the NPB and work our way down. However, former Royal Cub (yeah, let’s go with that) Mike Montgomery “volunteered” the KBO by making news a week ago:

As punishment, he was suspended for 20 games.

Montgomery will also have to pay a fine of 3 million won (US$2,570) for his action during a game last Friday


All three leagues paused for baseball in the Summer Olympics. The South Korean squad finished second in Group B behind the United States.

I couldn’t quite figure out the knockout bracket while watching the Olympics and, really, still can’t. The Koreans beat the Dominican Republic in Round 1 and Israel in Round 2. But then they lost to both Japan and the United States in the semifinals. They ultimately took fourth, losing 10-6 in the bronze medal game to the Dominican Republic (who they had already beaten earlier in the bracket).

As for the league itself, Justin Choi at Fangraphs hasn’t done any more KBO updates that I can just cite his like the last update.

Our Hanwha Eagles are still bringing up the rear, in 10th place with a record of 39-65-8. They are not yet mathematically eliminated, but they’re 14.5 games back of the last playoff spot. The franchise has only made the playoffs once in the last 12 years (2018).

The big story of the year in the KBO was the “homecoming” of Shin-soo Choo. During the KBO Olympic break, he returned to the US for health treatment and to see his family:

The KBO regular season has been suspended following five positive COVID-19 cases from two clubs. All games scheduled for this week have been pushed back to later in the year. The league had long planned to go on an Olympic break from next Monday to Aug. 9. Choo, who was not selected to the Olympic team, will return to South Korea on Aug. 1.

He’s hitting .246/.387/.429 on the season with 16 home runs.

The KBO regular season ends on Friday, October 8th.

Since I saw it while looking at one of my old Asian baseball updates, let’s revisit Star Fox. Last year, we looked the Black Hole level. This year, it’s level 1-2, the Asteroid Belt. If you shot at the right asteroids in the correct sequence, you would open up the black hole warp zone from this level.