Thursday, December 30, 2010

eBay Pic Dump II

Some KC baseball miscellanea procured from the eBays (click to enlarge):

These three shots are from opening day at Municipal Stadium on April 9, 1963 (a 2-8 loss against the Yankees).

Your 1920 Kansas City Blues

Lou Fette, Blues 1929

Bob Boken, Blues 1932

Marty Hopkins, Blues 1936

Lee Stine, Blues 1937

What Royals fan can forget the classic 1976 World Series! Wait, what? Must have been printed ahead of time in case the Royals made it...

1920 ad for a Blues game from a scrapbook full of Blues coverage
Slim Harris, Blues 1934

Terrible scene on the field after an A's game in '56: "Negro & white boys fight..."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Slightly Less But Still Quite Premature Look At The 2011 Lineup

Since my last post previewing the 2011 lineup, the Greinke trade bombshell was dropped. (You can read my recap of Greinke's time with the Royals here.) The upside to the frustrating trade is no more Yuniesky Betancourt in a Royals uniform. New Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar is at least young and by all accounts could be fantastic in the field. He should also get on base a little more than Yuni - Bill James projects a .318 OBP for Escobar next year compared to .293 for Yuni. Escobar's slug is projected by James to be less than Yuni's though: .364 to .397.

It's not a given, but I expect/hope Lorenzo Cain will see the bulk of the time in center. Swapping out Gregor Blanco from my previous post for Cain results in a lower projected OBP (.345 to .361) but improved slug (.379 to .337). According to the Baseball Musings lineup analyzer, the effect on scoring from these two changes is almost nil. The projection is still 4.9 runs/game. Escobar and Cain could be big upgrades on fielding runs saved though.

This is what the optimal lineup would supposedly look like after the two changes (once again, first number is James's projected OBP, second is SLG):

1. Kila 1B/DH (.375/.451)
2. Billy 1B/DH (.377/.476)
3. Pena C (.327/.400)
4. Alex LF (.356/.455)
5. Francoeur RF (.318/.425)
6. Escobar SS (.318/.364)
7. Cain CF (.345/.379)
8. Aviles 3B (.320/.414)
9. Getz 2B (.333/.339)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Premature Look At The 2011 Lineup

If you're like me and a Royals fan, you're bummed out by the recent signings of out-machines Jeff Francoeur & Melky Cabrera and the specter of a Zack Greinke trade. 2011 is going to be another brutal year for the Royals.

To wallow in it, I plugged Bill James's 2011 projections (found on for a potential Royals lineup into Baseball Musing's lineup optimizer. But it actually made me feel marginally better. James is projecting big improvements from Kila and Alex. If they live up to these numbers, 2011 will be much more bearable.

Below would be the optimum batting order for these players according to Baseball Musing's tool, which would be expected to score 4.9 runs/game, or 794 over 162 games. That's insanely high -- only the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays scored that many in 2010. But hey, makes for some fun "maybe they won't be that bad..." off-season dreaming. If everything breaks our way, maybe we'll only lose 85 games!

First number is James's projected OBP, second is SLG:

1. Kila (.375/.451)
2. Billy (.377/.476)
3. Aviles (.320/.414)
4. Gordon (.356/.455)
5. Francoeur (.318/.425)
6. Pena (.327/.400)
7. Getz (.333/.339)
8. Yunicorn (.293/.397)
9. Blanco (.361/.337)

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Can't Tell A FIB: Fielder-Independent...Batting?

Fielder-independent pitching (FIP) is a cool stat that seems to have gained quite a bit of traction. It only looks at a pitcher's walks, strikeouts, hit-by-pitches, and home runs allowed, and spits out a number that is on the same scale as ERA. In the same way I've flipped wOBA (an offensive measure) to look at "pitcher wOBA" in the past, I was curious what these fielder independent events would look like applied to hitters. It certainly gives a limited picture, but is kind of a cool sketch of a hitter's strikeout and walk discipline combined with his home-run power. Here's how the Royals hitters looked in 2010 (higher the better for hitters, AL average was 4.14):

5.01 Wilson Betemit
4.97 Kila Ka'aihue
4.70 Billy Butler
4.52 Jose Guillen
4.34 Alex Gordon
4.18 Alberto Callaspo
4.14 Yuniesky Betancourt
4.04 David DeJesus
3.87 Rick Ankiel
3.77 Mike Aviles
3.59 Mitch Maier
3.46 Scott Podsednik
3.40 Wee Willie Bloomquist
3.39 Jason Kendall
3.24 Gregor Blanco
3.18 Chris Getz
3.07 Brayan Pena

Here's the formula I used:
Outs/3 is to match "innings pitched" used in FIP. 3.11 is a constant added to bring the number to the same scale as ERA.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cliff Lee's Control Is Unsane

(This post has nothing to do with Kansas City. I am just in awe of Cliff Lee right now.)

With apologies to Will Carroll, this post is basically a series of numbers with no story. But Cliff Lee's surgical control and inability to walk batters this season is stunning, and the numbers speak for themselves. Lee's K/BB rate of 10.3 during the regular season was the second best of all-time to Bret Saberhagen's 11.0 in 1994. Saberhagen threw 177 innings in strike-shortened '94; Lee threw 212 this year. Through 177 innings, Lee's K/BB was 13.1. Plus, zero of Saberhagen's walks were intentional, while two of Lee's were. Take those two out, and Lee's full regular season rate was 11.6. I'd say Lee's season was more impressive. Add on Lee's two incredible appearances so far this post-season, and his strikeout total raises to 206 and his walks stay stuck on 18, for a rate of 11.4 (12.9 without the two IBBs). Cliff Lee might be displaying the greatest control in the history of control right now.

Here is a breakdown of the stretches Lee has gone without a walk, plus a look at all 16 non-intentional walks. As you'll see, most batters needed some help from the umps to get a free pass from Lee.

April 30 - May 16: None of the first 90 batters Lee faced on the year walked.
May 16: Evan Longoria draws the first walk of the season against Lee. According to Pitch-f/x, two or three of the called balls could have been strikes:

May 16 - May 28: A stretch of 61 batters faced without a walk until...
May 28: Howie Kendrick draws a four-pitch walk. All four pitches were perfectly on the edge of the zone:

May 28: 12 batters faced without a walk before Juan Rivera draws what looks like a legitimate walk:

May 28 - June 2: 33 more batters without a walk before...
June 2: Nick Punto is given a gift by the umpire:

June 2 - June 29: 144 batters faced without a free pass!
June 29: Jorge Posada breaks the stretch with an eight-pitch walk - ball four looks like it caught the corner:

June 29 - July 4: 41 batters go by without a walk.
July 4 (last game with Mariners): Miguel Cabrera draws a walk on four straight strikes:

July 4 - August 1: ONE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY BATTERS WITHOUT A WALK. (There was one intentional BB in there.)
August 1: Alberto Callaspo:

August 1 - August 16: 75 batters without a non-intentional walk (one intentional).
August 16: Carlos Pena with a legit walk:

August 16 - 21: 58 batters, no walk.
August 21: Brian Roberts with a massive 10-pitch at-bat draws a pass:

August 21 - August 26: Only 12 batters go by before...
August 26: Jason Kubel draws one:

August 26 - August 31: 35 up without a walk.
September 12: Lee gives up three walks in a game against the Yankees. Derek Jeter leads off the game with this one:

Lee gets through the next 18 batters before Curtis Granderson takes a walk:

Only seven batters go by before Jeter takes his second of the game:

September 18: 19 batters go by before Chone Figgins draws a walk...with some charitable calls from the ump:

September 18 - September 23: 18 batters, no walks before the unthinkable: Back-to-back walks. Daric Barton and Kurt Suzuki pulled it off:

September 23 - October 12: Lee hasn't walked a batter 99 plate appearances and counting.

Make sure to enjoy the brilliance of Cliff Lee for the rest of the post-season.

Friday, October 8, 2010

2010 AL: Correlation of Runs Scored To AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS/wOBA

A visual representation of how team offensive measures correlated to each team's runs scored in the 2010 American League:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Royals Yearly Runs Allowed Per Game Vs AL Average

click to biggy style
Regarding 1998-2010: Whoops!

Royals Yearly Runs Per Game Vs AL Average

click to biggy
Behold, a graph revealing the mysteries of the ups and downs of American League offense since the Royals have joined the league! See how the Royals have compared to their American League brethren! Ponder the worthlessness of being third in the league in batting average!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

1920 Kansas City Monarchs & St. Louis Giants

I've joined the writing team at, and my first post takes a look at the 1920 Kansas City Monarchs & St. Louis Stars. I'll have a weekly article over there examining Kansas City baseball's past and present.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kansas City Athletics Best & Worst wOBA+ Single Seasons

In the A's 13 seasons in KC, there were 99 individual seasons by batters that had at least 2 plate appearances per team game played. Here are the best and worst of those seasons by wOBA+. The first number in parenthesis is wOBA, the second is wOBA+:

1. Elmer Valo 1955 (.419, 133)
2. Bob Cerv 1958 (.406, 131)
3. Norm Siebern 1962 (.397, 126)
4. Rocky Colavito 1964 (.376, 123)
5. Enos Slaughter 1955 (.380, 120)
6. Jim Gentile 1964 (.366, 120)
7. Norm Siebern 1961 (.375, 118)
8. Roger Maris 1959 (.359, 117)
9. Vic Power 1955 (.367, 116)
10. Norm Siebern 1960 (.363, 115)
90. Mike Hershberger 1965 (.271, 91)
91. Phil Roof 1966 (.268, 91)
92. Joe DeMaestri 1957 (.279, 90)
93. Dick Green 1967 (.247, 86)
94. Joe DeMaestri 1955 (.269, 85)
95. Frank House 1959 (.263, 85)
96. Ken Hamlin 1960 (.260, 82)
97. Joe DeMaestri 1956 (.264, 82)
98. Billy Hunter 1957 (.254, 82)
99. Joe DeMaestri 1958 (.236, 76)

And here are those numbers graphed (click to big-big):

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Royals In Monarchs Duds: July 31, 2010

The 2010 Salute to the Negro Leagues turned out to be a whirlwind day for the Royals. Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth were traded to the Atlanta Braves for three young players hours before the game, and it was announced that manager Ned Yost had been given a two year extension to manage the Royals.

Zack Greinke became the first Royals pitcher to start in two Negro Leagues salutes at Kauffman Stadium (having pitched the 2004 game). The Royals faced the Orioles, appearing in their first Negro Leagues salute in KC. The Royals donned a style inspired by the 1949 Monarchs. Dr. Raymond Doswell of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum left a comment on this blog stating "the uniform is inspired by a road gray uniform, but made white/off white for the Royals home game." I don't think a baseball team could look much better than the Royals did this night. (Well, okay, some striped stirrups would help.) The Orioles paid tribute to the Baltimore Elite Giants and their road uniform of the early 1950s.

Greinke pitched eight strong innings with the help of four double plays turned behind him. The Royals trailed 2-3 going into the bottom of the eighth. Jason Kendall singled ahead of Billy Butler, and Butler put the  Royals ahead with a bomb to left-center. Joakim Soria nailed down the ninth to preserve the win. The Royals improved to 8-6 in home games in which they've worn Monarchs throwbacks, dating back to 1994.

Al Wilmore ca. 1946-50

Gene Baker ca. 1949