Monday, June 28, 2010

Royals Career WAR Leaders

click to embiggen

Here are the all-time leaders in WAR compiled while a Royal (numbers from The Baseball Gauge). I've highlighted Royals Hall of Famers with gold bars.

  • Kevin Appier needs to be inducted yesterday.
  • WAR shows Freddie Patek, Larry Gura and Steve Busby to be marginal Royals HOF choices...
  • ...but it's downright cruel to inductee Cookie Rojas. Cookie did start off as an effective player in his first few years as a Royal, and was selected to four All-Star games between 1971-74. The Royals may have kept him around a little too long, and his numbers between 1974-77 hurt his totals. His hitting line in eight years as a Royal is an underwhelming .268/.314/.346. Here a few of the 69 Royals with more WAR than Cookie: Gil Meche, Mark Teahen, John Buck. Cookie played eight seasons in KC to rack up his 4.9 WAR; Jay Bell put up 4.8 in his one season.
  • Is Carlos Beltran a Royals HOFer?

Royals Best WAR Single Seasons

There's a new website for baseball nerds called The Baseball Gauge that has all sorts of fun ways to look at players based on WAR, Win Shares, and Win Shares Above Bench. WAR is my favorite metric of those. Here are the best single seasons in Royals history according to WAR numbers on The Baseball Gauge:

1. George Brett 1980: 9.4
2. George Brett 1985: 8.8
3. Bret Saberhagen 1989: 8.3
4. Darrell Porter 1979: 8.1
5. Zack Greinke 2009: 8.0
6. Dennis Leonard 1977: 7.6
7. Kevin Appier 1993: 7.4
7. Amos Otis 1978: 7.4
9. George Brett 1976: 7.3
10. George Brett 1979: 7.1
11. Amos Otis 1971: 6.9
11. Willie Wilson 1980: 6.9
13. Danny Tartabull 1991: 6.7
13. John Mayberry 1975: 6.7
15. Carlos Beltran 2003: 6.5
16. Mark Gubicza 1988: 6.4
16. Carlos Beltran 2001: 6.4
18. Amos Otis 1970: 6.3
19. Bret Saberhagen 1985: 6.1
19. George Brett 1977: 6.1
19. John Mayberry 1972: 6.1

Darrell Porter at number four! Wow. I had no idea how good Porter was.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Royals Best & Worst wOBA+ Single Seasons Graph

I originally had the best and worst wOBA+ seasons split up in two separate graphs, but they weren't too interesting. I've edited the original posts below, removing the graphs, and also added the 1969-1973 seasons, so the lists are now complete. I like this new graph better since it contrasts the difference between the best and worst. The midline is 100, or perfectly average.

click to embiggen

Royals Team wOBA+ By Year

click to embiggen

I can't stop making Royals wOBA+ graphs. Someone help me.
This one plots how the team's overall wOBA compared to the AL average every year. 100 (the yellow stripe)  means they were an exactly average AL offense that year. Above 100 is good, below is bad. Pretty dramatic illustration of distinct eras for KC offense; the surprisingly brief growing pains of an expansion team into a powerhouse from '72-'82, and into a middling to downright terrible offensive team ever since. The 2010 team is on pace to have the best wOBA+ since 2003, in spite of being below average.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Royals Worst wOBA+ Single Seasons

The saddest 20 offensive seasons in Royals history, 1969-2009, by wOBA+ (min. 400 plate appearances or a similar ratio in shortened seasons):

289. Jim Sundberg 1986: 87
290. Greg Gagne 1994: 87
291. Jerry Adair 1969: 87
292. John Wathan 1983: 87
293. Vince Coleman 1994: 86
294. Brian McRae 1992: 86
295. Brent Mayne 2003: 86
296. Jose Lind 1994: 85
297. Terry Shumpert 1991: 84
298. Frank White 1976: 84
299. Jackie Hernandez 1969: 84
300. Rey Sanchez 2000: 84
301. Dee Brown 2001: 83
302. Tony Pena, Jr. 2007: 83
303. Frank White 1998: 83
304. Desi Relaford 2004: 80
305. David Howard 1996: 77
306. Angel Berroa 2006: 77
307. Jose Lind 1993: 76
308. Neifi Perez 2002: 74

At least all we gave up for Neifi Perez was some guy named Jermaine Dye.

Jim Sundberg will be happy to hear that Jason Kendall and his 83 wOBA+ will probably knock him off this list after this season.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Royals Best wOBA+ Single Seasons

As far as I know, there's no source to look up a wOBA+ stat. A plus stat, such as OPS+ or ERA+, compares a stat against a league average, thereby adjusting for era. WOBA+ would be figured like so: 100 x (wOBA/lg wOBA), where 100 is exactly average for that given year, anything greater than 100 is above average and vice versa. I've been thinking this would be the ultimate hitting stat, and started crunching numbers for Royals players. After I'd crunched a bunch, I came across a discussion on wOBA creator Tom Tango's web site in which Tango says he's "not in favor of wOBA+" because he prefers wRC+ (weighted runs created).  WRC is directly related to wOBA, but a little more complex. I don't entirely understand it, but Fangraphs gives the definition as "total runs created based of wOBA. It is calculated as (((wOBA – lgwOBA) / wOBAScale) + (lgR/PA)) * PA." Tango prefers it because it is park adjusted. Tango is on a higher plane than me when it comes to stats, so I don't doubt wRC+ is a better stat than wOBA+. But wOBA just makes a lot of sense to me. I've been nerding out hardcore on Royals historical wOBA and wOBA+.

Here are the top 20 individual seasons by wOBA+ in Royals history (min. 400 plate appearances or a similar ratio in shortened seasons):

1. George Brett 1980: 146
2. John Mayberry 1972: 136
3. John Mayberry 1975: 134
4. George Brett 1986: 133
5. Danny Tartabull 1991: 132
6. John Mayberry 1973: 126
7. Mike Fiore 1969: 126
8. Amos Otis 1978: 126
9. Hal McRae 1976: 125
10. George Brett 1983: 125
11. Mike Sweeney 2002: 125
12. George Brett 1988: 123
13. George Brett 1990: 122
14. Willie Aikens 1983: 122
15. Carlos Beltran 2003: 122
16. Hal McRae 1982: 121
17. George Brett 1979: 121
18. Bob Hamelin 1994: 121
19. George Brett 1976: 121
20. Danny Tartabull 1988: 121

Things that jumped out at me as I crunched the numbers:
  • Danny Tartabull absolutely crushed from 1987-91. Dude has three of the top 21 seasons in Royals history
  • David DeJesus truly has been the model of consistent decency. Here are his wOBA+ numbers from 2004-09: 99, 106, 104, 97, 107, 101. This year he has jumped out to 117. We can expect that to fall before the year is out.
  • Hal McRae mashed for a bunch of years. He had at least 400 PAs between 1974-1983 and was above average every year, and seven times was 110 or better, with three seasons of 120 or better.
  • Steve Balboni's 1985, the year of his team record 36 HRs, was a sad 105.
  • John Mayberry's 1972-75 seasons. Go take a look at these gaudy stats. He had that elusive combination of power and plate discipline. Why did the Royals let him go after '77? Baseball-Reference says he was "purchased" by Toronto.
  • Mike Fiore's 1969 season at #7. Huh? The rookie had an incredible season with a .420 OBP and 3.0 WAR. He was never a full-time player again. Must be a story there.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Career wOBA Leaders Graph

click to embiggen

Nothing really to do with Kansas City, but I wanted to see the career leaders in wOBA, the best stat in THE HISTORY OF WHATEVER! I think the only one of these players to play for a Kansas City team is "Sliding" Billy Hamilton, who broke into the bigs as a 22 year old rookie with the 1888 American Association Kansas City Cowboys. He played for KC again in 1889. He's featured in the lower right of the blog header above.

It turns out Babe Ruth was pretty good.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Batting Second, Jason Kendall

I generally don't put too much importance on how managers order their batting lineup, but I, along with everyone else in the Royals nerdosphere, have been flabbergasted by new skipper Ned Yost repeatedly slotting Jason Kendall in the two spot. In an attempt to quantify just how stupid this is, I plugged the Royals most common starting nine into the "Lineup Analysis" tool at Baseball Musings. You plug in nine players' on-base and slugging percentages, and the tool spits out what should be the best and worst 30 lineups for those players. I used stats from this season only. Using the tool's model based on the 1959-2004 seasons, the best Royals lineup should score 4.967 runs/game, and would look like this:


while the worst should score 4.654 runs/game and would look like this:


The difference in runs/game is .313, which would equal 50.7 runs over 162 games. That's a lot of runs; the  best lineup should get around five more wins than the worst. Maybe lineups are more important than I thought.

You may have noticed Kendall bats ninth in the best lineup and, of course, second in the worst. But it's worse than that: Kendall bats ninth in EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE THIRTY BEST LINEUPS. He bats second in the eight worst lineups, and in 24 of the worst 30. Wow.

(By the way, the Royals are scoring 4.571 runs/game, which is less than the supposed worst possible lineup should give them...)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Why I Cannot Trust The Process

There is a welcome wave of optimism regarding the talent brewing in the Royals minor league system. Royals fans, always looking for any shard of hope to cling to, seem to be ever so slightly allowing themselves to imagine a not-too distant future with a roster bursting with home grown players competing for an AL Central crown. And I share in the hope.

But...I can't believe in a rational way. In
Dayton's words“Our goal... is to have the majority of our 25-man roster be homegrown players.” Sounds good. The problem - if DM is still calling the major league shots - is the other 10, 11, 12 spots. The free agent and trade acquisitions. Even a team that scouts and drafts better than most cannot afford a GM who makes the kinds of decisions at the big league level that DM has made.

Even if a handful of his draft picks turn into top quality players, I don't trust that he'll be able to fill out the rest of the roster competently. For the Royals to compete, they'll need a GM who excels in all areas, not just one. If Moore's strength lies in finding and developing raw talent, then great - let him work in scouting, drafting and development. But we're going to need someone a lot more forward-thinking when it comes to filling a complete big-league roster before I'll start believing. I hope I'm wrong and all of Dayton's kids are stars, and the Royals don't need savvy decision-making in free agency or trades to complete the picture. I'm just not holding my breath.
(6/9 update: Wow, the great Rob Neyer and I were sharing a wavelength. Neyer has a new post up titled "Are the Royals looking good in 2012?" in which he says if the Royals are to get over the top, "That's going to take a little extra oomph, in the form of a brilliant trade or a particularly canny free-agent signing. And this organization hasn't demonstrated any propensity for those things since the 1970s.")
(6/10 update: Be sure to check out this great rebuttal to my above post by "kcemigre" over on Royals Review.)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Photos of KC Athletics Hank Bauer, Joe Gordon and Roger Maris

The great Uni Watch website has a series going in which old wire service photos are highlighted. Today's entry starts off with a couple of KC A's photos. The first is a 1961 shot of outfielder Hank Bauer and manager Joe Gordon at spring training. The caption notes that the A's asked Bauer to come to camp early to help with the coaching; just 60 games into the season, Gordon's first as A's manager, Bauer replaced Gordon as manager. Gordon went on to be the first Royals manager in 1969.

The second picture shows Roger Maris sporting an A's jacket, signing an autograph at "a Kansas City supermarket." I love this photo because Roger is wearing an A's jacket five weeks after being traded to the Yankees. Maris was traded in a seven-player deal (that included Hank Bauer) on December 11, 1959.