Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Better Than Projected

The Royals dispatched the Cincinnati Reds tonight in a sloppy, rain-lengthened game, picking up their 73rd win of the season—one better than the much-maligned prediction from Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA forecasting tool.

Much ridicule was wasted in the off season after a series of articles dared to wonder if other teams would emulate the Royals defense and relief pitching template for getting to the World Series. Well, the trading deadline saw many teams attempting to do just that.

I come not to bury the projections, because I am a fan of them. I find it fun to play with numbers and charts, especially in the off season when no real games are being played.

I won’t try to shout down the haters who done their hatin’ when institutions like the Wall Street Journal dabbled in the world of sports to get some readers and presented half-baked theories with some heavy recent bias. As you can tell, I enjoy that, too.

No, I just want to enjoy this vanquishing of the projection. The BP projection (and many others) are best used to put how well the Royals are playing into perspective. They are leading the league, for sure, but they are also leaving behind the years of under performance that led to such lowly estimations of their talent in the first place.

With every win, they are hammering home the point that this is who they are now. A team that gets it done. Not just an October fluke, but a contender all year long.

They playoffs are a crap shoot, and a few fluky bounces or crappy calls could end this season with more than 90 feet between the Royals and a championship, but this entire season has been a joy to watch. The Royals are in front and they belong there. And, I’m not sure anybody would have predicted that.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Three and Oh!

Watching the Royals go 3-0 to start the season isn't a crazy idea. Most teams, even bad ones, can string together three wins on occasion. What has been most satisfying about this opening week binge on wins is that they have come with so much competence.

By far, the worst performance has been Danny Duffy giving up five runs on Wednesday, but he also struck out a batter an inning and the big damage came on a home run that followed an infield hit.

The Royals have hit their fare share of long balls to start the season, with just about everybody you'd want to getting in on the act. I don't imagine they will keep this pace up for the season, but it's not unrealistic to think that they won't be dead last in homers again.

Finally, while Wednesday's game featured some struggles from the starter, it also featured the platonic ideal of bullpen usage, with the Herrera-Davis-Holland trio mowing down batters and making the last three innings a wash for Chicago.

This is the reason Dayton Moore was hesitant to trade one of his cyborg relievers for another offensive weapon in the offseason. Because whatever happens in the first six innings of a ball game, if it's close, then the Royals are sending in HDH. That means, they have three more innings to score and your offensive output is likely done for the day.

Friday, February 21, 2014

hgmiller.com » Royal Reactions

Start a lead gen campaign on LaunchBit and cost-effectively grow your company today!
From our sponsors
 

 

hgmiller.com » Royal Reactions
No, I don't have any naked pictures on my site. Quit asking.

Who are These Guys? – Infield
2/21/2014 4:00:15 PM

Let’s take a look at who will be turning double plays on the daily this year, once again using the official 40-man roster as our guide, which can be found here. Note: All posts will follow this general format: Player Name (linking to the player page on Baseball-Reference.com) 2013 “Slash” line (Batting Average/On-Base Percentage/Slugging Average) 2013 […]

 

You are receiving this email because you subscribed to this feed at feedmyinbox.com

If you no longer wish to receive these emails, you can unsubscribe from this feed, or manage all your subscriptions

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Royal Reactions - Off-Season Upgrades

Dayton Moore has been a busy man since the long-suffering Red Sox fans finally got that elusive World Series title after six long years without one.

As previously-discussed, the Royals fell short of the playoffs and couldn't just stand pat if they wanted to step it up in 2014.

Welcome to Kansas City, Norichika Aoki, Omar Infante and Jason Vargas. (and, so long, David Lough... but we'll discuss that another time)

Using an average of the available projections from Fangraphs, here is how the starting nine looks for the Royals going into this season, based on Wins Above Replacement:

1 Norichika Aoki 3.40
2 Omar Infante 2.50
3 Eric Hosmer 2.25
4 Billy Butler 1.95
5 Alex Gordon 3.60
6 Salvador Perez 4.15
7 Mike Moustakas 2.40
8 Lorenzo Cain 3.00
9 Alcides Escobar 1.20

That pencils out to 24.45 WAR from the regulars, which is a roughly four-win improvement over the lineup in 2013. (please don't ask me to show my work)

The starting rotation pencils out to another 10.10 WAR:

1 James Shields 3.70
2 Jason Vargas 1.90
3 Jeremy Guthrie 1.40
4 Danny Duffy 1.20
5 Wade Davis 1.90

Here is where the team gives back some of the gains from the offensive side of the ball. This would be about 1.5 fewer wins than last year's starters, with most of the loss coming from Ervin Santana's departure.

I won't go through the relief corps, but one can hope they will be good and yet realistically expect some regression off last year's awesome showing. Let's call it half a win and credit Dayton Moore for improving the team by two wins at this point in the offseason. This leaves us with many questions as Spring Training appears on the horizon.

Does 88-74 get you into the playoffs in 2014? I doubt it.


Does throwing $100 Million at Santana or Tanaka get you over 90 wins and in the hunt? Maybe.

Do a handful of games in Venezuela mean Moose is ready for a breakout year? Is Yordano Ventura ready to go all Pedro Martinez on the league? Will Butler and Gordon stave off the age curve? Will Escobar not suck so much? Does Bonifacio play everywhere and kick in a few wins with his legs and his defense? Anything is possible.

Will Jarrod Dyson steal home to win a one-game playoff with Tampa Bay after a Wil Myers error puts him on third base in the ninth? One can dream, can't they?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

All in for 2014 - Going to WAR with the lineup you have

So, the World Series is over and the boys in blue didn't make it. I will say, this was one of the more enjoyable seasons to follow the Royals, and it will be great if they can ever get through a season sometime soon without a gut-punch of a month that drags the whole year down.

Think about it: if Kansas City managed to play .500 baseball in May, they would have been in the wild card game, and anything could have happened.

Of course, that didn't work out so hot for Cleveland, but I digress.

Looking ahead to 2014, there are some clear issues that need to be addressed if KC is going to get those six more wins they desperately missed. On the pitching side, there is the matter of replacing Ervin Santana, who accounted for 2.8 WAR on his own. Losing his contributions alone makes it nine wins the Royals will need to add to the roster in order to dream of the post season in 2014.

There are already rumors (or, perhaps just wishful thinking) about the team looking at Tim Hudson and Josh Johnson to fill the void if Ervin doesn't take the qualifying offer from Kansas City.

It takes a certain level of optimism to think the Royals can repeat their performance as the best run-preventing team in the American League, but I'm going to look at that later. For now, let's talk runs and what Kansas City can do to score more of them.

Most of the discussion is focusing on two positions: Right Field and Second Base. There's good reason for this, as both spots would have been enormous sinkholes if David Lough hadn't proven to be a decent major leaguer and Miguel Tejada didn't have the attention span of a toddler.

The bad news is Miggy isn't coming back and Lough is probably more like the player he was in July/August (266/288/351) than when he came up in May/June (314/336\471).

Time for some bad math.

Here is a look at some key players currently under club control in 2014. (Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference)



I've included Escobar and Moustakas because I think the Royals should look beyond a fix at second base, if the opportunity arises.

Both players saw large drop-offs in productivity this year from last, and while they are too young to jettison completely, I would think a little competition going into the Spring couldn't hurt.

Maxwell did well for the Royals after they brought him over, and a platoon between him and Lough might maximize their potential in Right Field. They certainly can't be much worse than Jeff Francouer was last season.

All in, using these (admittedly) rough calculations and expecting repeat performances from the rest of the team (a fool's dream, to be sure), I project the Royals still falling about 6 wins short of the playoffs. Even resigning Santana and getting a repeat performance will leave them on the outside looking in unless the league regresses next year.

The most prominent name out there for a quick upgrade has been Howie Kendrick of the Angels. Plugging Kendrick's 3.3 WAR from 2013 in place of the 1.27 we might realistically expect from Bonifacio helps the cause, but it doesn't quite guarantee champagne showers in October.

Would it be nice if the Royals dropped $30 million on Robinson Cano and his 5-6 WAR of the last few years? Ha!

A look at the other available free agents is less than appealing. (Yuni at 3rd base? Put down the phone, Dayton. Put it down now!)

Fleeting thoughts about #cheercano aside, there is no way the Royals are going to be able to responsibly spend their way into the playoffs this off season. Getting creative with trades, lucky with some lower tier signings and praying that the coaches in Venezuela can put Moose back on track are going to be the best we can hope for.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

All In for 2013 - Feeling Lucky?

Cross posted over at Cool, Dense Air.

Over the last 10 games, the Kansas City Royals have gone 9-1, which would be awesome, except the two teams in front of them in the American League Central, Detroit and Cleveland, have also gone 9-1.

If you are unfamiliar with the term Pythagorean Record, then I suggest you click here before admiring my awesome chart-making skills below.



This beauty represents the games over or under the expected number of wins for each of the three teams vying for supremacy in the AL Central.

Now, after you are done marveling at the fact Detroit has gone on a 9-1 tear and is STILL five games BELOW their expected number of wins, let's focus on the Indians from Ohio, since they are also in possession of the coveted Second Wild Card Spot. (Am I capitalizing that correctly?)

The Indians have played 3 more games than the Royals and are currently one game over their heads according to the math gods that actually run baseball.

At the same time, the Royals are 4.5 games behind Cleveland in the standings.

So, (big finish), if the Indians fall back to earth that one game, and KC can keep on the gas to make up the other three, then we're talking about a fighting chance for the possibility of playing in a one-game playoff to get into a one-game playoff to play some actual post-season baseball.

If you've been a Royals fan for the last 20 years or so, you gotta like those odds.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

All in for 2013 - How Few Homers, Homies?

Another brutal loss by the Royals tonight. Even after the pitching staff took things into their own hands (Kansas City starter Luis Mendoza hit an RBI single after the two batters before him failed to get a man on third home with no outs), the bullpen blew it in the eighth.

This makes eight losses in a row by the once-promising Royals. Thoughts of contention are far off and most fans would be happy if we could get back to the .500 mark by the end of the year, which was probably the realistic expectation at the beginning.

I for one am going to hold out hope for the Plexiglas Principle to take effect mid-season, because it's only now the end of May and I have nothing else to hang onto.

What follows is a tandem post with Cool, Dense Air.

I'm going to use some dubious math skills and a couple of really fancy charts* to point out what is so blatantly obvious about the Kansas City Royals struggles the past few weeks: they have no power.

*not fancy

"No power" isn't some hyperbolic term here, either. Since May 15, the team has hit exactly two home runs. Before we get to that, though, how about a look at their runs scored and runs allowed over a rolling ten games for the season so far.


I like to use numbers from a rolling ten games so you can even out some of the outliers. In this case, a very bad trend presents itself over the last ten games. The Royals pitching, while not as good as in the beginning of the year, is not nearly as bad as the offense has been recently.

A closer look at the offensive numbers gives a little insight into where the problem lies.


As you can see, walks and hits have ebbed and flowed so far, but the power has taken a massive dump since the middle of may, causing the overall drop in run production.

So, who's to blame? Well, pretty much everybody. Here is a look at the most common hitters for the Royals and their Home Run percentage this year compared to their career averages and the league as a whole.


The lineup is ordered by career Home Run Percentage, so we can see who should be expected to provide the most pop this season. I have highlighted a few areas.

Green goes to the overachievers. Unfortunately, the two guys who are hitting more homers than they normally do are the two guys you care least about hitting for power.

Yellow goes to Mr. Consistency, Billy Butler. He's off his pace a bit this year, but not terribly so, and I wouldn't be surprised to see him near his career averages soon enough. The same can be said for Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas, though Moose has many other failings this season, while A1 is sadly wasting his prime for another Royals team that appears to be headed nowhere.

Finally, we come to the problem children: Frenchy, Hosmer and Sal.

Sigh...

The thing with Jeff Francoeur is that everybody knows he can't hit anymore. But, still, you'd expect him to get a hold of one every now and then. He hasn't even been able to manage that this season.

Salvador Perez is hitting for a nice average so far and plays stellar defense behind the plate, so you cut him a little slack when the power numbers are down. But, even he needs to step it up and get back on track.

Finally, there's Eric Hosmer. He is looking like another can't miss prospect that the Royals whiffed on just by having the audacity to bring him up to the major leagues.

I don't know what the answer is for Kansas City. At this point, praying for regression to the mean is about the only hope left. 

Please, science. Help some sluggers out.