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Royals Rumblings - News for December 1, 2023

A surprisingly busy offseason link day and the first of our 3-part Asian Baseball Wrap

Syndication: The Topeka Capital-Journal
This is our second most recent picture in the archive for the “Kansas City Royals”
Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Hey, some news news!

The Royals hired Joe Dillon as an assistant hitting coach.

Dillon, 48, spent the past two seasons as Washington’s Minor League hitting coordinator, returning to the organization after two years as the Nationals’ assistant hitting coach from 2018-19. After the Nats won the ‘19 World Series with Dillon as one of their hitting coaches, he moved on to become the Phillies’ hitting coach from ‘20-21.

Apparently, all other coaches from the previous season are expected to return:

Jaylon Thompson at The Star also wrote about Dillon.

Dillon began his career in the Royals organization. He was selected in the seventh round of the 1997 MLB Draft and spent five seasons in the minor leagues. In 2001, he was acquired by the Minnesota Twins in the Rule 5 Draft. Four years later, Dillon made his MLB debut with the Florida Marlins. His playing career included multiple stops, including a one-year stint in Japan. Dillon played his final season with the Tampa Bay Rays Triple-A affiliate Durham Bulls.

Dillon connected alongside Quatraro with the Rays. Quatraro served as the Rays’ minor league hitting coordinator and saw Dillon play with the Bulls during the 2010 season. “One of the really cool things I experienced was that I was a youngish coordinator and Joe was an oldish player and I was learning from him as a coach when he was still a player,” Quatraro said. “I think it’s a really good experience for our coaching staff as well.”

Thompson also looks at the Royals needs this offseason:

Picollo plans to address a few roster needs. The Royals look to add starting pitching, bullpen depth and possibly another impact bat this offseason. MLB executives will convene in Nashville for the 2023 Winter Meetings next week.

Sadly, Minda already beat me to the news about Danny Duffy’s bear suit going up for auction. Pete Grathoff had a little blurb about it. If your interested, the current bid is $1225.

Grathoff also talked about a clip from the Brett documentary that’s coming up.

Also got some nice blog chatter today. This is a banner news day for the offseason.

At Royals Reporter, Kevin O’Brien looks at the Garrett Hampson signing:

Granted, BABIP can be fluky, and in Hampson’s case, the hard-hit data doesn’t suggest that his .379 mark a season ago will be sustainable in 2024.

Then again, Hampson did slash .315/.381/.435 with a .816 OPS in 105 plate appearances after the All-Star Break. So maybe he really tapped into his batted-ball ability in the second half in Miami.

David Lesky examines hitting zones for the Royals:

For someone who hit .276/.319/.495 and finished seventh in the MVP vote, taking another step isn’t easy but you’d hope that someone with his pedigree and likely massive contract could be better. But when you look at the .303/.347/.530 he hit from June on and say the same thing, it makes you sit up and take notice. He was a monster on pitches in the heart of the plate.

Even with an average lower than you’d like, his slugging percentage was behind only Nelson Velazquez and Edward Olivares (nope, not a typo) and was nearly 100 points above league average. But his expected numbers were even better. Imagine what he’d have done had he hit .344 with a .726 SLG on those pitches. Get him to those expected stats just on pitches in the heart of the plate and he’s a .298/.339/.524 hitter for the season. It’s not that simple, of course, but there is something to be optimistic about on that front.

I’ve been linking to Patrick Glancy’s blog, Powder Blue Nostalgia, quite a bit the last half of this year. It helps that he writes on Thursdays so I get first go at the posts on Friday. It also seems like he grew up around when I did so the pieces on things like TWIB or Cubs baseball on WGN resonate. This week, he mentioned he’s picked up another gig (before writing about Hal McRae):

That’s why I want to take a look at my first favorite DH this week. If you’re a Royals fan, you might have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve written about our favorite team. This is not by chance. I recently started contributing pieces to Kings of Kauffman (check it out if you’re a Royals fan), so I’ve filtered a lot of my Royals material in that direction. But when it comes to talking about all-time great designated hitters, I had to go back to my roots. And even if you’re not a Royals fan, it’s never a bad time to read up on the great Hal McRae.

Blog roundup:

Four writers all hitting different topics across two dead November baseball days. Hat tip, KOK!

Now that their seasons are over, it’s time to look in on the recently completed baseball seasons in Asia. We’ll start this week with the CPBL. Next week, we’ll do the KBO. And, finally, on the 15th, we’ll look at the NPB.

Here are the two previous entries for 2023: Season Preview; Mid-Season

Next season, the league will expand to 6 teams as the TSG Hawks join the fray. Here’s their new logo. There have been a couple of drafts and expansion drafts, trying to build their roster. They also made a major trade with the Monkeys back in August. In the 2023 CPBL draft, the Hawks picked former Red Sox and Twins player Lin Tzu-Wei. However, “there were rumours weeks before the 2023 draft hinted that Lin Tzu-Wei is a bit reluctant to join the TSG Hawks”. He was dealt to the Monkeys for 4 players and signed a deal for over $1M across two and a half seasons. However, he had a rough start, slashing .206/.281/.274 in 20 games.

At midseason, I noted that the Uni-Lions won the first half comfortably over a cluster of 3 teams and the Fubon Guardians way behind. In the second half, the Guardians still finished last, but they were only 5.5 GB. The Wei Chuan Dragons edged the Rakuten Monkeys by 1.5 games to claim the second half crown.

Sadly, the Dragons and their fans were not able to celebrate:

The Wei Chuan Dragons have won their 2023 CPBL second-half season title and punched their ticket to the Taiwan Series, perhaps in the least dramatic fashion, with no fans cheering in the stands and no streamers being thrown onto the field.

Fortunately, this was not pandemic-related, but more a scheduling quirk. It was an off-day and the team was just chilling at the stadium:

On the night of October 19, the Dragons players and coaches gathered at Tianmu Stadium to have a BBQ party on their off day and watch the other two games in the league. The first game ended with the Fubon Guardians defeating the Uni-Lions 5-0, which means the Dragons will finish the 2023 CPBL season with the best overall record. The second game of the night finished with the CTBC Brothers beating Rakuten Monkeys in a 4-3 win, making the Dragons the second-half season title winner.

As the Dragons got the bye into the Taiwan series, they awaited the playoff winner between the Uni-Lions and the wild card Rakuten Monkeys. Rakuten got in by virtue of having the best record in the league during the entire season of a team that did not win a half. As I wish MLB would do, the Lions were given a 1-0 lead in their best of 5 series with the Monkeys for having a better regular season. However, the Monkeys won 3 straight games 3-2, 3-2, and 7-1. I like to think the Royals may have had something to do with this. In August, former Royal Scott Blewitt signed with the Uni-Lions and went 3-3 with a 3.95 ERA in 41 IP with 40 K and 11 BB. However, he didn’t pitch in the playoff series - I think the Uni-Lions Blewitt with that decision (hold for applause).

In case you forgot, the Dragons were an expansion team back in 2021. However, the franchise existed from 1990-1999 and actually won the last three Taiwan series (1997, 1998, 1999) before they disbanded. A 2 decade championship drought? You might see a theme emerge across these next couple of weeks.

Game 1 went long. And I mean long:

I think, as Royals fans, we can respect dramatic 14th inning walkoff game 1s.

Game 2 featured fireworks (see, MLB isn’t the only league with silly unwritten rules) but this time, the Monkeys would win in extras.

The teams also split the next four games. The Monkeys won a seesaw game 3 and the Dragons won game 4 behind a dominant pitching performance by CPBL veteran Bryan Woodall. The Monkeys combined power and pitching for an 11-0 game 5 win. Former Royals farmhand Pedro Fernandez went 8 and tied a record with 13 strikeouts in a Taiwan Series game. However, the Dragons countered in game 6 with Hsu Jo-Hsi: “his fastball velocity reaching 157 kph (97.6 mph), keeping the Monkeys’ lineup quiet all night”. This set up a winner-take-all Game 7 on November 12th.

The Monkeys scored 1 in the top of the 1st but the Dragons plated 5 in the bottom of the inning. The visitors cut the lead to 5-3 in the top of the 2nd, but that’s all the closer they would get. Three foreign pitchers, Andrew Miles Gagnon, Bryan Woodall, and Jacob Daniel Brigham, shut down the Monkeys the rest of the way en route to a championship clinching 6-3 win.

The aforementioned Hsu Jo-Hsi won series MVP. Gagnon won league MVP. The rest of the league awards, including a really nice home run robbing extra inning catch that won play of the year can be found here.

There’s a boring TOP SECRET and SUPER EXCITING Slack channel for Royals Review writers. There, we swap Pop-Tart recipes, make fun of Matt, discuss who is going to write what story, etc. One of the channels is #StoriesForRumblings. I’d like to think Max put this one in the channel on Wednesday night, knowing it would get used on Friday.

NPR: A forgotten trove of rare video games could now be worth six figures

In 1998, a Nebraska video game closed and the owner put a bunch of video games into storage. Just last year, the owner found his stored (and mostly untouched) stash and sent many of the higher end items out to be appraised.

One of the buzziest items in the group is a nearly perfectly preserved copy of the game Chrono Trigger — a cult classic roleplaying game. “The game itself is just this amazing masterpiece of the video roleplaying game genre that ... a lot of people would say is the best video game RPG ever made. Basically, this is as nice a copy of this particular game as you will ever see,” said Chris Kohler, a collector and the editorial director at Digital Eclipse.

Yes, it’s a video game classic. It may be one of the best condition copies of it ever. Cult classic?!? It was a top 20 seller on the Super Nintendo with 2.5 million copies sold. It sold more copies than Super Street Fighter II, Mortal Kombat II, SimCity, Pilotwings, Final Fantasy IV, Super Metroid, NBA Jam, and Mega Man X.

We’ve touched on this game 6(!) times since I’ve done Friday Rumblings:

Going to just keep this simple today with the boss battle music