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Royals Rumblings - News for April 22, 2022

Can the Royals “Be .500” again this season?

Minnesota Twins v Kansas City Royals
I believe this is my first Bobby Witt Jr. picture
Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Day games are always a little weird. Seems kindof silly

Yesterday morning, Lynn Worthy at the Star wrote about the Royals recent bullpen dominance:

The Royals bullpen Barlow anchors along with Josh Staumont and Jake Brentz has been an undeniable strength of the club through the first 10 games. That unit extended its collective scoreless innings streak to 17 1/3 innings with four more in Wednesday’s win. The streak dates back to the eighth inning last Thursday night.

“The best way to describe it right now is dominant,” Royals starting pitcher Daniel Lynch said of the bullpen’s recent performance.

Seven different members of the bullpen have contributed to that streak, including rookies Collin Snider and Dylan Coleman.

Your daily Alec Lewis:

While Fangraph’s Eric Longenhagen was out scouting prospects last week, he got a look at Frank Mozzicato pitching an extended spring training game:

Frank Mozzicato started for Kansas City. This was the second time this spring I’ve seen the 2021 first rounder, and both times he has been in the 91-93 mph range with life at the top of the zone, but not in the heart of it. His trademark curveball had more consistent snap and depth than it did in the March intrasquad I saw, and was once again consistently plus. Mozzicato has many of the underlying components teams look for in young pitchers. His frame is very projectable, his delivery is fluid and athletic, his fastball has natural riding life and a flat approach angle, and it plays well off his excellent 12-to-6 curveball. Mozz’s feel for spin should translate to an eventual slider, while his great arm action could eventually yield a good changeup.

The Royals have done well drafting pitchers who have something close to a big league foundation when they first enter the org, but they haven’t really developed any of them into impact starters yet. Mozzicato is the sort of prospect who needs to add layers of velo and a pitch or two to what he’s already doing, and Kansas City hasn’t shown a consistent ability to coax that out of their guys. Most of the pitchers the team has taken in drafts have had sinking/tailing fastballs. Mozz’s heater has much bigger bat-missing ceiling than the Brady Singer/Jackson Kowar/Daniel Lynch types if he can throw harder. It’s too soon to be worried that that hasn’t started to happen yet.

The Royals high-A affiliate, the Quad Cities River Bandits, will play the Cedar Rapids Kernels at the new Field of Dreams ballpark on August 9th.

“We are thrilled to be able to host a game at such a perfect location for baseball fans from Eastern Iowa and around the world,” said Quad Cities owner Dave Heller. “This is an opportunity that we have hoped for since MLB announced plans to build a ballpark in Dyersville, and to see it come to fruition is really exciting for our organization, and for the Kansas City Royals, our players and Bandit fans from across the region.”

We go from Field of Dreams to Field of Schemes. If you’re not familiar with the Field of Schemes blog, well, I’ll let them pitch themselves: “Since 1998, we have been casting a critical eye on the roughly $2 billion a year in public subsidies that go toward building new pro sports facilities.” It’s a good blog for tracking all the private money that millionaires and billionaires bilk out of cities for stadiums. In a recent story, Neil deMause tackles the poorly named Wichita Wind Surge and how they’ve been particularly bold at separating the people of Wichita from money:

At this point it’s nearly impossible to calculate how much public money the Wind Surge owners have flowing into their pockets — says “nearly $120 million” — but it probably doesn’t matter, as it’s only a matter of time before they try to finagle more.

Here’s your Royals blog roundup. Again, the Thursday day game thing makes this awkward as a lot of yesterday’s stories were about Wednesday’s game:

This was before my time, but I didn’t realize this had happened:

There was a tragic bit of off-field news. Following the April 13 game against the Yankees in Kansas City, 21-year-old Stanley Rupniewski suffered a skull fracture and brain damage in an altercation outside the stadium. He finally succumbed to his injuries on Thursday night. The Royals, following several fights and incidents of fans running on the field in the home opener, had already announced they would be adding to the stadium security force, and would be banning all liquid containers.

Miggy is stuck at 2999 hits after the Yankees intentionally walked him in the 8th to load the bases. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending as Austin Meadows followed with a double that plated two runs. His next shot at 3000 will come tonight when the Tigers open up a 3 game set with the, checks notes, Rockies. I’m still not used to this interleague-all-the-time thing, even though it’s been going like a decade.

Pos hits on what is grating about this. Or changing RPs with nobody on and 2 out. Or when a manager tries to coax an umpire review in the 8th inning after they frivolously wasted their challenge in the 6th on a play that wasn’t close. These things are all for tiny, minuscule advantages that sometimes blow up in their face, like today. Yet they’re just tedious to watch and make the entertainment product significantly worse. But unless there are specific rules against it, teams will continue to take any tiny edge they can.

Old man yells at cloud
Pictured: me

Speaking of tiny or not so tiny edges, that silly letter from MLB to the Yankees is still winding its way through court. The Yankees keep trying to block the unsealing of the letter:

Manfred sent the letter to Yankees GM Brian Cashman after the team made a complaint to MLB regarding the Red Sox and their Apple Watch scandal in 2017. The letter detailed the league’s investigation and findings, and is standard procedure.

How about some fun baseball instead? Hitting bombs against the Cards is fun. This whole sequence? Even more fun!

Are the Cubs on their way back to lovable losers? ...Well, except for whole Ted Cruz-lookalike-with-similar-level-ethics Tom Ricketts owning them and all.

Yesterday, Max asked if the Royals have an attendance problem. The A’s definitely have an attendance problem:

Obviously, this is not at all sustainable and not good for the sport, especially if it happens frequently. However, I would love to go to an MLB game with under 3K people at it, just for the novelty. Of course, I still wouldn’t get a foul ball.

Fangraphs updated their WAR formula, specifically the fielding part:

Today, we’re changing one of those components. Retroactive to the 2016 season, we have swapped out the Range component of UZR for the Statcast metric Fielding Runs Prevented, which is Outs Above Average (OAA) converted to runs above average... We believe the additional data points available in Statcast, such as a fielder’s starting location, help to improve the measurement of a player’s range, especially in situations where players are shifted.

The vast majority of players’ new WAR calculations fall within a +/-1 WAR range of their previous WAR figures. Since 2016, there are 78 individual seasons that have changed by more than one win, and 30 players whose WAR has changed by more than three wins for the entire six year span starting in 2016.

Of note for the Royals, the 6th highest changed season was Nicky Lopez’s 2021 where he went from 4.4 to 6 fWAR. I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that last season he was worth 6(!) wins. His bWAR was 4.3.

Barring something crazy, OT will return next week with some movie reviews that I’ve started on. Then, in May, we’re going to do our first 2022 look at Asian baseball with one week each on the NPB, KBO, and CPBL.

I’m going to cheat a little bit with my Song of the Day today. It’s not exactly a video game, but it’s video game themed enough, is about the 2014-15 Royals, and it was making the rounds on Twitter yesterday.

This isn’t new. There have been stories that highlight the three things the Royals were historically good at: contact hitting (though this video does this by talking about TTO and the Royals lack thereof), outfield defense, and bullpen. But it’s always fun to relive the 2014-15 seasons.