Saturday, July 23, 2016

A triumphant return

Last night, I went to a Royals game at Kauffman Stadium for the first time in years. The last time I attended, in 2012 or so, the Royals were still a struggling small ballclub, so many losing seasons in their rearview and not much hope in the future. I now tend to think of those days as Pre-playoff days, and Royals fans that attended the games were either diehard fans like myself, or they received free tickets to go to the game courtesy of the company they worked for. There was so much apathy at The K that you could serve an apathy sandwich to every starving person in the world and still have leftovers. Some people talk about how the Royals are 9-0 or 14-1 when they attend games in person. In those pre-playoff days, I probably had a career record of like 46-373 at The K BUT IT WASN'T MY FAULT THE TEAM JUST STUNK.

However, the game last night represented the best experience I have had at a Royals' game, and I wanted to share some thoughts about why it was so great:

First, I received 4 free tickets that I won participating in the Royals Rewards program. Free stuff is always good. If you haven't signed up for the program, do so ASAP (sign up for the Chiefs rewards program too!).

Second, I got to watch Danny Duffy, the Royals only good starting pitcher this season, live in person. He did not disappoint. Duffman saved us:
Third, the seats were great - located in the lower bowl level near the left field foul pole. I got to watch Alex Gordon up close. Not much happened in left field but I'm not complaining.

Fourth, the Royals were playing the first place Rangers and facing Yu Darvish, their ace starting pitcher. What a great match up to see in person.

Fifth, I got to go with my best friend, which meant the beers were flowing and the good times were aplenty. I even finished off my first ever Royals Helmet nachos, which if you ever read my blog posts here, you know that helmet nachos are one of my favorite things in the world. Here's the picture proof of what I can do if you put a helmet full of nachos in front of me, especially nachos with BBQ and cole slaw:
Sixth, when I was babbling on about OPS and save situations and whether Moose would have trouble earning his job back from Cheslor next season, people around me chimed in and seemed to actually understand baseball terms. In the Pre-playoff days, I don't think I could name a single person who knew what OPS was and it was so amazing to finally have fans that cared about the team. I had literally never experienced that before. Kansas City is the greatest city in the world.

Seventh, the game was a classic 2014-15 Royals game: low-scoring, timely-hitting, and the bullpen shut the door. Haven't had many of those games in 2016, so it was a welcome sight. In particular, Luke Hochevar put out one of Duffy's fires, then Wader sent the Rangers the check for a much needed victory.

Eighth, the tickets I won came with passes to get on the field and watch the post-game fireworks. Yes, you heard that right: I SAT ON THE FIELD AT THE K TO WATCH THE FIREWORKS AND IT WAS THE GREATEST MOMENT OF MY LIFE (besides my wedding and the birth of my daughter and when the Royals won the World Series but I need to exaggerate here to make a point). There were several others who also sat on the field, and we were ushered into the outfield near the edge of Alcides Escobars' range at shortstop (the dude has a cannon for an arm). We got to take as many pics as we wanted (my phone died but I still got a few), and then I laid on the grass and watched the fireworks with my wife (I even stole some grass for a memory - sorry George Toma!). Kauffman Stadium was even more beautiful from the field and there is not a single stadium in the world that can equal its beauty and I am so jealous of the players who get to step on that field every season. I have previously been on the field only one other time and last night put that time to shame.

All in all, it was a perfect night, and I didn't even mention that before the game: I received a job offer for what is very close to my dream job, had my first Z-man from Joe's KC, got to hang out with one of my best friends who lives in Denver and I rarely see, and my wife and I successfully had our first night out without our daughter. I also got a pic with the World Series trophy. Gotta get that from the wife and post it ASAP! Here's hoping for more days like yesterday!

Lets Go Royals!

Friday, May 6, 2016

What's happening in the Central

This MLB season is roughly 17% completed, which represents to me a large enough sample size to get a rough idea of where teams and players stand. I have previously taken a look at storylines to watch in the AL Central, and at this point in the season it seems that the White Sox are last year’s Twins, the Tigers are playing much better than last year, the Indians are yet again underachieving, and the Twins are really bad. The Royals fall somewhere in the middle of division, mostly because they have completely forgotten how to hit. To get a better idea of how each team ranks in the division, I took a look at some of the numbers, which are shown below (clicking on the table makes it larger):
From the table, you can see that the White Sox are the best team in the AL Central overall, and are winning games with pitching and hitting. In contrast, the Tigers appear to be made up of mostly good offense, the Indians are mediocre at everything, and the Twins are terrible at everything. The Royals are good at what they normally are: not striking out (although they seem to be striking out more this season) and playing good defense. In addition, the Royals’ pitching has been surprisingly good overall (with the exception of Chris Young, Kris Medlen, and Joakim Soria at times). If KC could only pick up their offense, they would likely be competing head-to-head with the White Sox. The Royals and Indians enter a big series in Cleveland this weekend, with the winner likely taking control of 2nd place in the AL Central (assuming the Rangers take care of the Tigers).

Today also represents the day that Eric Hosmer began his MLB career 5 years ago. An iconic day for the Royals, since in some ways it represents the beginning of the current core of players that helped lead KC to 2 consecutive World Series appearances. Hosmer typically crushes the Indians, so here is hoping we see more of that this weekend, along with his teammates helping him out for once...

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mo' money, Mo' problems

With yesterday’s drubbing by the Nationals, the Royals dropped to 14-13 on the season, putting them in 3rd place in the AL Central, 4.5 games back from the Chicago White Sox. Yuck. All this after winning the World Series then setting a franchise record for highest payroll this offseason.

Seems like Notorious BIG said it best when he rapped on his song Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems: “I don’t know what they want from me, It's like the more money we come across the more problems we see.” In the Royals’ case, the more money they spend, the more problems they see (even more comical in the Royals’ case is the fact that the song was released after Biggie’s death, implying that even upon dying, one faces more problems with the more money they have). Consider the following:
Leadoff man Alcides Escobar is hitting .261 with an on-base % (OBP) of .295, which is atrocious. He does lead the team with 7 stolen bases and is 2nd with 30 hits, but he is almost an automatic out when leading off a game, meaning that Mike Moustakas, who hits after Escobar, faces harder pitches to hit. He is making a career-high $5 million this year. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.

Speaking of which, Moose is only hitting .258 with an OBP of .314, and although he has 7 home runs, those 7 home runs have resulted in a paltry 13 RBIs. Moose does only have 10 strikeouts but is really only helping the team with his defense. Moose is making a career-high $5.6 million this year. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
Behind Moose, Lorenzo Cain bats third. The best word to describe his hitting this season is terrible. He is batting a terrible .232, with a terrible 31 strikeouts. And the most terrible thing? HE DOES NOT HAVE A SINGLE EXTRA BASE HIT BESIDES 2 HOME RUNS. Absolutely stinkingly terrible. Cain is making a career-high $6.5 million this season. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.

After that is Eric Hosmer, the only bright spot on the Royals. He is gonna get PAID next year. No problems.
Kendrys Morales, the Silver Slugger winner as the best DH in the AL last season, has been horrid this season, batting .200 with only 20 hits, 2 home runs, and 8 RBIs. He has 24 strikeouts and has grounded into 5 double plays, which is only 2 fewer than the most in the MLB. Garbage. Morales is making a career-high $9 million this season. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
Salvador Perez hits #6 in the lineup and is hitting below his career averages in everything. He does have 1 triple, but that is basically meaningless. Like Moose, Salvy is almost only contributing defense to the Royals. He is earning a career-high $2 million this season. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
Alex Gordon bats after Salvy. Just about everyone thought Alex Gordon was a goner after the 2015 season. We were sure he would sign a $100 million contract in San Francisco or LA, and were pleasantly surprised with he stayed with the Royals for $72 million instead. He has responded to that contract by hitting .211 with the 5th most strikeouts (34) in all of baseball. To put it simply, he stinks, and is only contributing defense this season so far. And that contract he signed? He is making $12 million this year, slightly below the career-high $12.5 million he made last year. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
After Gordon is Omar Infante, the much-maligned and weak-armed 2nd baseman that the Royals just can’t get rid of. Omar is actually doing better than last season, but technically a person in a coma could do better than Omar’s 2015 season. He does lead the team with 7 doubles but his defense has been terrible this season. He is making a career-high $7.75 million this season. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.
Finishing this pitiful lineup (minus Hosmer), is Jarrod Dyson. Dyson had a late start to this season due to an injury suffered in spring training. He is hitting like he is still injured, batting .244 with a slugging % of .293. He has essentially no power and is mostly contributing speed and defense to the Royals. Dyson is making a career-high $1.73 million this season. Mo’ money, mo’ problems.

I don’t feel the need to go over the pitchers and their contracts as I am already falling into a deep depression from writing this post. I am no expert on professional sports contracts, but looking at the Royals contracts (every regular Royals position player, including Hosmer, is making a career-high this season, with the exception of Alex Gordon), it seems that the players have run into more problems with the more money they have made. It’s time for them to earn that cash. Stop being complacent and flailing away at crappy pitches. And for every strikeout he has during home games, Alex Gordon should buy every fan in the stadium a hot dog or a beer to make up for making us watch him suck at the plate.  

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

May the 4th be with you

In honor of Star Wars Day, and the fact that the Royals came alive last night by winning in walk-off fashion, I thought it would be fun to turn the team into Star Wars characters. Here is hoping that the Force remains strong with the team, and May the 4th be with you:

Gordo also says "May the 4th be with you":
Han SoLoCain hopes you never tell him the odds. Because if you do, he will deliver the game-winning hit in the bottom of the 9th, like he did last night.
Orlando Calrissian will make an agreement to keep the enemy out of Kansas City forever
Yoda Ventura pitch fire, he does
Ian-Wan Kennobi warns you not to be foolish today:
Darth Wader is not your father, but he will choke you out in the 9th inning

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Capt. Redbeard, the Pirate of the High Plains

After Johnny Cueto departed the Royals for the San Francisco Giants upon winning a World Series ring, the Royals were in dire need of starting pitching depth. They only had a somewhat unproven Yordano Ventura, an aging Chris Young, a shaky Danny Duffy, a somewhat rehabbing Kris Medlen and the steady Eddie Volquez, which was not a formidable set of pitchers by an means.

So this offseason, the Royals' GM Dayton Moore answered the call to add pitching depth by signing Ian Kennedy to a 4-year deal worth $70 million, which many lauded as a terrible move and poor signing. Everyone thought the Royals were overpaying for mediocrity and would regress this season. Guess what suckers? IAN KENNEDY DOESN'T SUCK. Even though it is a small sample size, take a look:
  • Kennedy started his tenure with the Royals with 13 straight scoreless innings
  • He has only allowed 3 runs in 20 innings (1.35 ERA)
  • After 3 games, he has more strikeouts than Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Corey Kluber, RA Dickey, and Johnny Cueto. On that list are 6 Cy Young winners
  • He is the only National League pitcher to have at least 30 starts in the past 6 seasons 
  • Oh, and the Royals are currently the third-best team in the AL
So put that in your pipe and smoke it you ignorant haters. Kennedy has looked very sharp so far and has added the ability to strike out batters to a pitching staff that normally relies on the amazing defense behind them to keep games close. As a result of his brilliant start for the Royals, Kennedy is thus in need of a nickname. Some have argued for Red Dawn, but I am here to present a case for Captain Redbeard. The evidence I present below will show that Kennedy is clearly a leader of the Royals who can aid aid them in victory while looking great in his red beard. The evidence will also show that the rest of the Royals look terrible in a red beard (with the exception of Wade Davis, who looks exactly the same no matter the color of his beard).

First of all, look at this handsome man at the helm of his Pirate Ship below. Kennedy seems to be saying "Arr, matey, I've come to plunder your hits and steal your batting average ye olde fools. Also, hide your women, as my beard has the power to make any woman fall in love with me."
Second of all, look at how terrible every one of the Royals looks in a red beard (or more specifically, Ian Kennedy's red beard, as I photoshopped his beard onto the whole team, plus coaches):
LoCain looks terrible in a beard
Ned looks like the type who would eat crumbs that fell into his beard. Esky looks awful in a beard
Dyson should never grow a beard, but Chris Young looks decent
Volquez looks so terrible with a beard, but Medlen can pull it off
Terrance Gore should never grow a beard, but Chien-Ming Wang looks kind of sophisticated with one
I think there is no more evidence needed to anoint Ian Kennedy as Capt. Redbeard, Pirate of the High Plains. Hopefully, he maintains his hot start and the Royals' offense starts kicking in.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Wade, Please forgive me

Dear Wade Davis -

Please forgive me. Last night, I did something wrong and hope that you can look past my transgression and continue to dominate the Royals' MLB opponents. Especially the stupid Houston Astros, who only had 1300 fans in attendance last night, which is far too few people witnessing the greatness of your right arm, even if they are fairweather Lastros fans.

Please forgive me because last night, I doubted you. Not at first though. WIth the Royals leading 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning, I felt the game was over. "The Astros have no chance," I said. You struck out Evan Gattis and I knew the game was over. Then Luis Valbuena came to the plate and worked a full count and I knew you would get strikeout #2, but instead of swinging at your nasty cutter like everyone else does, he took the pitch and took a base.

Please forgive me because that made me slightly worried. Jason Castro was coming to bat next, and as a left-handed hitter who can mash the ball easily out of the park because the Astros decided to install the shortest right field I have ever seen since my days playing coach's pitch as a 7-year old, I started to doubt your ability to finish this game. Castro ran up a full count and also walked, putting two runners on with only 1 out.

Please forgive me, but I started to doubt you. Jose Altuve, who leads the MLB in hits since 2013 and is only 4'3", therefore giving him the smallest and hardest to find strike zone in the league, was batting next. I just knew he would ruin my night by poking a single through the infield, allowing Jake Marisnick, the speedy outfielder who was running for Valbuena, to score and tie the game. Altuve battled to a full count after you threw two balls that would normally be strikes on any other batter, but were too high for that little midget. Then you got him to fly out to shallow right field and Marisnick wasn't able to tag up and take third base. Still, I doubted you, as George Springer, whose arms look like Barry Bonds in his steroid prime, was coming to plate and in my mind, I was already conceding to the fact that he would win the game with a double or even worse, a 3-run homer in tiny Minute Maid Park that would energize all 1300 fans in attendance.

Please forgive me, because you ran up another full count on Springer and had thrown 32 pitches which is very high since you normally mow down hitters in the minimum required for a strikeout, In fact, I bet you could find a way to strike out batters on just one pitch, which would be incredibly efficient and is something a cyborg would do. Anyway, Spring had a full count with 2 runners on and 2 outs and I thought he might send the Astros home with a walk off then you absolutely froze him on a nasty pitch that struck him out while he looked on and iced the game and sent 1300 people (from a metropolitan area of 6 million) home with no joy in their hearts, just another group of victims in the Wade Davis Experience. I would not want even my greatest enemy to face you in the batter's box. Look at you walking off the mound before the umpire even called a strike and Springer thought he walked earned a base on balls, and you don't look at strikeouts:
Please forgive me for doubting you and please continue to treat opposing MLB batters the way a cat toys with a mouse. I am just an ignorant fan and I will never doubt you again.

Forever Royal,


p.s. I realize it is hyperbole when I say that Houston had 1300 fans in attendance last night. The real number was 1200. I apologize for being so dramatic.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Dad bods

Last night, the Royals squeaked out a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins behind some timely hitting from Sal Perez and Omar Infante and incredible shutdown pitching from Wade Davis. Incredible shutdown pitching from Wade Davis has been a Nightly Event for Royals fans for quite a while now and we should all feel blessed to witness his greatness,

One of my thoughts during the game was how much I dislike the Twins' franchise player Joe Mauer, who always finds a way to stick a knife in KC when he comes to town. I can't wait until that guy retires. And speaking of, he already looks semi-retired as he is currently rocking a dad bod. There is nothing wrong with a dad bod, except that it is the number one cause of pasty gross male bodies that are disgusting to look at. I thought it would be a good use of my time to reveal Joe Mauer's dad bod to the world, along with the other athletes who also shamelessly rock their dad bods. Enjoy.
Joe Mauer in all his dad bod glory, watering his lawn
Miggy Cabrera will never be mistaken for Alex Gordon, the King of Fitness
I hate Peyton Manning's dad bod as much as I hate him
Johnny Cueto rocks his dad bod all over the 'Gram
Billy Butler, owner of a dad bod since he was in the 2nd grade
The Royals have not been below .500 since July of 2014, so hopefully they can take this series from Dad Bod Mauer and the rest of the Twins before making their way to Houston next week for a 4-game series and a rematch of the ALDS. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

MLB Predictions, 2016

With MLB’s Opening Night only a few days away, I thought it would be a good time to post some predictions for this upcoming season. Baseball is, predictably, a very hard sport to predict, if that makes sense. With the exception of the Cubs never winning the World Series again, you just never know which teams or player will have a good year or bad year. Therefore, if any of my predictions come true, I declare myself Supreme Prognosticator and should be given the Presidency by default.

I will try to make a prediction for every MLB team, but please also see my AL Central Storylines to watch in 2016 for a more in-depth analysis of what to expect for the Royals' division rivals. Here we go:
  • The Blue Jays’ Jose Baustista injures his hamstring when attempting to make the most epic bat flip of all time. Frustrated with his injury, Blue Jays fans pelt him with beer cans and poutine (as only Canadians can do) and jeer as he limps like a cretin back to the dugout. 
  • Yoenis Cespedes has all of his fancy cars stolen outside of Citi Field, and is forced to ride his horse to games, earning a $1,000 fine and citation from the City of New York for each dump his horse takes on city streets. 
  • Madison Bumgarner’s horse challenges Cespedes’ horse to a race and wins. Cespedes decides to retire from baseball and pursue a career raising Thoroughbreds. 
  • Pablo Sandoval, who starts the season on the bench after losing his starting job to someone named Travis Shaw, eats away his feelings until he is unrecognizably huge. He has to be removed from Fenway Park by crane.   
  • Joe Maddon, the Biggest Hippie in Baseball, gets high after the Cubs Opening Day win and decides to turn Wrigley Field into a season-long music festival called “Wrigleystock.” The result is that thousands of millennials living in Chicago overtake the stadium and tragically burn it down in a haze of marijuana smoke. Needless to say, Wrigleystock destroys the Cubs chances of winning the World Series in 2016 and the Cubs remain cursed. 
  •  Brett Lawrie, now playing in the AL Central, gets pelted with so many fastballs that he develops CTE. Roger Goodell and the NFL immediately release a statement that there is no evidence that playing football caused this or any other chronic brain disease. 
  • The Cardinals’ Yadier Molina adds another neck tattoo to his MLB-leading 13 (how many tattoos can one neck hold?!?). Tragically, the tattoo is not the phrase “No Ragrets.”
  • Nori Aoki sets the Major League Baseball record for Most Career Times Hit in the Nutsack by a Live Baseball. He is given the following trophy to commemorate this achievement:
  • The Diamondback's Zack Greinke, disgusted with the outrageous prices of guacamole at Chipotle, declares his new favorite burrito place is Rudy's Burritos, although he hates having to drive all the way to Mesa for 65 cent guac. 
  • Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel of the Astros decides to shave his notorious beard for charity. He becomes unrecognizable and is not allowed in the stadium. As a result, the team fails to make the playoffs. 
  • Wil Myers hurts his wrist on Opening Day playing ping pong in the Padres dugout and misses the entire season. 
  • The Angel's Mike Trout hits for the cycle and every single anchor at ESPN has their head explode.
  • Jealous of Trout, Bryce Harper hits for the cycle TWICE IN ONE GAME, and every single sportswriter in America has their head explode. America suffers from a shortage of sportswriters, and is forced to read blogs like this one instead. 
  • Not to be outdone, Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins attempts to hit for the cycle THREE times in one game, but is found injecting steroids directly into his buttocks in the middle of a game. He is not punished however, because the Marlins are terrible and need all the help they can get.
  • The Atlanta Braves, who are playing their last season at Turner Field before moving into their new stadium outside city limits, give every Opening Day fan a coupon for Buy One Hot Dog Get One Free at the new stadium, not redeemable at Turner Field. The city suffers through horrendous riots the rest of the season.
  • Speaking of riots, the City of Milwaukee holds violent protests when it is revealed that the original Hank T. Dog died in 2015 after players fed it Old Milwaukee and cheese curds, and the team has been cycling through imposters ever since
  • Adam LaRoche is arrested after he is found guilty of kidnapping his doppelganger Charlie Blackmon of the Rockies. At his trial, LaRoche said he was just trying to get his son Drake a chance to play for a AA baseball team, which is the current level the Rockies play at.
  • A report by Al Jazeera accuses Alex Rodriguez, who has announced he will retire after the 2017 season, of sending packages of Human Growth Hormone to Peyton Manning's wife. He explains that the report is "outrageous and wrong, and that the HGH is totally not for helping me pass Barry Bonds for the most home runs in MLB history."
  • The Pirates' Andrew McCutchen is given an Indecent Exposure citation in Pittsburgh when crazed fans, expecting him to hand out his batting gloves after a game, rip his entire uniform off. 

Friday, March 18, 2016

Love/Hate, Hate/Love, Love/Love

Chapter 1, In which The Dream releases Love Hate and it becomes Hate/Love

Pop artist The Dream released an album in 2011 called LoveHate. He stated the title was short for “love me all summer, hate me all winter.” Which got me thinking about the Royals from 1986-2013, during which devoted fans would do the exact opposite of The Dream by loving the team all winter and hating them as they floundered hopelessly all summer. “Our Time” always became Their Time, which was followed by Cry In Your Cereal After A Ten-Game Losing Streak Time.

Of course all that is behind us now that the Royals are Defending Champions Of The World, but I couldn’t help but think about how the reverse Love Hate also applies to several Royals players, namely Luke Hochevar and Wade Davis, who we have had complex relationships with over the years. As starting pitchers, those two were complete buffoons on the mound but as relievers they have been lights out, which has changed Love/Hate to Hate/Love.

Chapter 2, In which Hate/Love became Hate/Hate

Take yourself back to early 2012. The Royals were in the middle of a 90-loss season (somehow they finished in 3rd place in the AL Central).  Bruce Chen was the Opening Day starter and led the team with 11 wins (and he only had 14 losses!). Billy Butler had the best year of his career. Then there was Luke Hochevar, the former 1st pick of the 2006 draft, who was coming off a career-best year in which he won 11 games and produced a paltry (for him) 4.68 ERA. That winter, we thought he was going to break out and become the right-handed version of Clayton Kershaw. We loved Luke Hochevar. We admired him. Some of us even wanted to bear his children.

Then the season started and summer came and he dropped a dud on us. He lost 16 games which is NOT easy to do and Hate/Love really became Hate/Hate.

Chapter 3, In which Hate/Hate becomes a complex phenomenon

Fast forward to late 2012, when GM Dayton Moore shocked the world and traded the #1 Prospect in All The World (Wil Myers) plus some other loose change to the Tampa Bay Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis. “Davis is the key to the trade” they all said. It was reported that Davis, a former Rookie of the Year candidate who was coming off a career-best year in 2012 after being demoted to the bullpen, was a decent starting pitcher who might need some gentle tweaking from a pitching wizard like Dave Eiland. We weren’t ready to love Davis just yet and we still hated Hochevar from his dismal 2012 season, so Hate/Hate became a complex phenomenon where Royals fans were prepared to either Love if Davis or Hoch would pitch ok or absolutely HATE if those imbeciles failed to not suck.

Chapter 4, in which a complex phenomenon became What The Hell is Happening

As it happens, Hochevar was sent to the bullpen for the 2013 season and pitched terrifically. Hate/Hate became Love/Love. Davis, however, was inconsistent and pitched like a douche which resulted in Hate/Hate. Then Papa Hoch tore his elbow and missed 2014 and Davis was sent to the bullpen. We did not know what to think and Love/Love Hate/Hate became What The Hell is Happening.

Chapter 5, In which What The Hell is Happening became Love/Love

While Papa Hoch sat out 2014, Wade Davis became the Greatest Relief Pitcher That Has Ever Lived. He has completed pitching feats that are completely unheard of, such as loading the bases in the bottom of the 9th inning with 0 outs only to strike out the side. Davis does not look at strikeouts. It is believed that if you hit a home run off of Wade Davis you or your family will never be heard from again. And Papa Hoch, his arm fully healed and ready to demolish opposing batters’ confidence, threw 82 strikeouts to only 17 walks issued in 2015, a ridiculous ratio that not even Cyborg Wade Davis completed. The change from What The Hell is Happening to Love/Love was now complete. We completely love Davis and Papa Hoch in the winter, summer, spring and fall and every other team with their humanoid bullpens can go suck it.  
Wade don't look at strikeouts
Papa Hoch

Monday, March 14, 2016

The WAR of the Royals

I recently obtained several 2016 Royals baseball cards and while examining them (below), I noticed something interesting. Several of the players stats had changed between 2014 and 2015, including the Wins Against Replacement, or WAR. This statistic represents the average number of wins a player is worth as compared to a replacement level player. This is a way to assess a player’s value and determine how much a team might lose if that player was injured. A higher WAR value means that a player is worth more than a player with a lower WAR. A value of 0 represents an average player.
I was interested in examining the changes in WAR and how they corresponded to the Royals’ two World Series appearances, particularly for the core players on the team. The Royals have had many of the same players since 2011-12, which would enable a sizable group for comparing over the years. So I went through each player’s WAR between 2013 and 2015 to see what changes might have occurred as the team rose into postseason prominence. I also examined each players' career high WAR so we can see what their ceiling as an MLB player is so far. A quick disclaimer: I did not examine rental or short-term players, such as Nori Aoki, Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto, simply because their time in KC was so short, and because they did not have much effect on helping the Royals make both World Series. Below is a table of the WAR levels for the main Royals between 2013-15:
2013 WAR
2014 WAR
2015 WAR
Career high WAR
Alcides Escobar
Alex Gordon
Lorenzo Cain
Eric Hosmer
Mike Moustakas
Omar Infante
Jarrod Dyson
Christian Colon
Salvador Perez
Luke Hochevar
Jeremy Guthrie
Kelvin Herrera
Wade Davis
Greg Holland
Danny Duffy
Yordano Ventura


# above 2.0 WAR

Based on the table, the 2014 Royals had 5 players who set career highs (highlighted in yellow) in WAR (no one set their career high in 2013), and overall, the core of the team was worth 40 more wins than if the Royals had trotted out replacement level players, which was their norm from the years 1986 until 2013. You will notice that 10 players had WAR values above 2.0, which typically represents the benchmark for being considered a good player. 

In 2015, the Royals were buoyed by 3 players having career highs in WAR, but overall only had 7 of their core players who had WAR values above 2.0. Interestingly, the overall difference in WAR between 2013 and 2015 was only 5.2 wins. It is pretty clear that the Royals making the World Series in 2015 was as a result of career years from Cain/Hosmer and Moose, coupled with the additions of Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist (as well as great years from Edinson Volquez and Kendrys Morales). Those 5.2 wins can easily be the difference between winning the division and not even making the Wild Card round, so it would definitely seem that GM Dayton Moore’s gamble on Volquez, Morales, Cueto and Zobrist was well worth it. 

My take from this analysis is in general, the Royals rise to two consecutive World Series was a result of their core group finally reaching their peak, coupled with solid years from their free agent signings. Teams like the Cleveland Indians are trying to replicate this success by maintaining their core group while teams like the Detroit Tigers and LA Angels simply try to buy the best players. Considering that the NY Mets made the 2015 World Series with their young core group, it appears that buying free agents is not necessarily the best way to go in baseball, and could be a reason why Alex Gordon decided to stay in Kansas City where he could remain with his core group and hope that 2016 gives players like Jarrod Dyson, Paulo Orlando, Sal Perez and maybe even Alcides Escobar a chance to get their career highs in WAR. Obviously there is much more to baseball than WAR, which is complicated to calculate, but it was interesting to examine this stat a little more in depth.  

By the way, the 2016 Royals cards are pretty sharp, AND they include highlight cards from the World Series. Better get some for the memories!