Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tim Collins And The Disappearing Strikes

Tim Collins was an exciting prospect mostly due to his excellent walk and strikeout totals in the minors. In 2010 (with three different teams) he had four strikeouts for every walk. Through his first six big league appearances, he showed that control with 10 strikeouts to three walks. Ned Yost has shown supreme confidence in Collins, calling on him in over half of the team's games so far. His 28 appearances lead the American League. Unfortunately, his trademark control is deserting him, which may or may not be due to overwork. His K/BB rate is way down to 1.29. It seems clear that Yost needs to back off Collins in the hopes his control will return. Yost bringing Collins in yesterday for seven outs when the Royals were trailing by 10 runs was bewildering.

He has now thrown strikes at a rate of just 58%, well below the AL average of 63%, and the worst among Royals pitchers on the active roster. He has remained mostly effective as teams have not been hitting him hard, but it may only be a matter of time before the increase in walks and decrease in strikeouts comes back to bite him and his team. With an eight man bullpen, there is no excuse to continue riding Collins so hard.

Royals pitchers with at least 150 pitches through May 28
Jeremy Jeffress was sent to Omaha to work on command, but even he was throwing more strikes than Collins. Collins has earned more leeway since he has shown great control in the minors, and I am not in favor of demoting Collins. Just give the guy a little rest.

Friday, May 27, 2011

David DeJesus: 2nd Best Outfielder On Most Playoff Teams, 4th On None

Robert Ford of 610 AM is becoming my blogging muse. After he opined that Kevin Appier was not an ace, I dug through Appier's career to show that he clearly was. Now he has tweeted that David DeJesus "would be a 4th OF on most contending teams."

This is not the first time Ford has said as much. Clark Fosler refuted the same claim by Ford a year ago on Royals Authority. With DeJesus long gone from KC and off to a poor start in Oakland, this topic is anything but timely for Royals fans, but Ford's comment still rankled me. We have had so few good players in recent Royals history that I hate to see one of them so under appreciated.

I have looked at the outfielders of the 24 AL playoff teams between 2005-10 to see where DeJesus would have fit on each team by Baseball-Reference Wins Above Replacement. And while I knew DeJesus was no fourth outfielder, he comes out looking even better than I expected.  Not a single AL playoff team had three outfielders with a higher WAR than DeJesus in the last six seasons. He would have been the best outfielder (by WAR) on eight of the 24 playoff teams during that stretch, or one in three. On average, he would have been the second best outfielder on those teams.

Ford argued further on Twitter that DeJesus does not have the power that teams covet in their corner outfielders, which may be true, but playoff teams have not been able to do any better than the fantastically under-loved David DeJesus. I did not like the Royals trading him to Oakland when it happened, and I like it even less now.

After the jump, you can see where DeJesus would have ranked in all of the AL playoff outfields over the last six seasons.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Various Royals Pitcher Records, 2010

Following up on my previous post, here is what the 2010 Royals starters records would look like under the different measurements proposed ("Trad" is the traditional W-L measure):

In addition to better reflecting a pitcher's performance, another benefit of the new records is that every start is counted, as opposed to the traditional record where many no decisions just get tossed out. 

Finding A Better Pitcher's Record

The usefulness of a pitcher's win/loss record is close to nil. In the oldy time days when men were men and pitchers finished what they started, wins had some meaning. Now, of course, bullpens have a large hand in nearly every game. Combine that with a pitcher's lack of control over run support, and you have yourself a pretty worthless stat.

But there is something nice about two numbers comparing "good" vs. "bad" starts. So here I will apply a few different methodologies to the current Royals staff and see how some alternative records come out:

Quality start record (a "win" being any start in which the pitcher goes six or more innings and allows three earned runs or fewer):

Luke Hochevar: 6-5
Jeff Francis: 7-3
Kyle Davies: 3-6
Bruce Chen: 4-3
Sean O'Sullivan: 3-4

Win probability record (a "win" being a start with a positive win probability added):

Luke Hochevar: 5-6
Jeff Francis: 5-5
Kyle Davies: 1-8
Bruce Chen: 4-3
Sean O'Sullivan: 5-2

Game score record (a "win" being a game score over 50):

Luke Hochevar: 4-7
Jeff Francis: 5-5
Kyle Davies: 2-7
Bruce Chen: 4-3
Sean O'Sullivan: 4-3

Monday, May 16, 2011

Worst Games Ever

Tonight's 19-1 beat-down at the hands of the Cleveland Indians is truly one for the Royals history books.

Number of times the Royals have allowed:

17 runs: 9
18 runs: 6
19 runs: 5
20 runs: 0
21 runs: 2
22 runs: 1

While allowing 17 or 18 runs does not come around often, you are really entering rarefied territory at 19. It has happened only eight times in 42.25 seasons, or once every 838 games.

The 18 run margin of defeat is even more rareit is the worst differential in club history, and just the third time it has occurred. The first was in a 21-3 loss in 2000, and the second was less than a year ago when the Royals lost by an identical 19-1 score. It took 31 seasons for the Royals to lose by 18, but they've accomplished it three times in the last 12 years.

Seven of the eight worst runs allowed games have come in Kansas City. I wish I had some brilliant theory as to why that is, but I am dumbfounded.

The eight games in which the Royals allowed 19 or more runs, the pitching lowlights (and how they fared in their next game):
  • 19-3
    July 28, 1973 vs. Angels
    Ken Wright .2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, Bruce Dal Canton .1 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, Gene Garber 5.0 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 7 ER, 4 BB
    (W 7-0 vs. Angels)
  • 22-11
    April 12, 1994 vs. A's
    Kevin Appier 3.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, Stan Belinda 1.0 IP, 2 H, 8 R, 2 ER, 4 BB
    (W 2-1 vs. Red Sox)
  • 21-3
    June 18, 2000 vs. A's
    Jeff D'Amico 2.0 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 5 BB, Miguel Batista 1.0 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB
    (W 8-6 at Angels)
  • 19-3
    September 27, 2003 vs. White Sox
    Jamey Wright 2.1 IP, 5 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, Kris Wilson 2.0 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, Brad Voyles 2.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 1 BB
    (L 1-5 vs. White Sox)
  • 21-6
    August 25, 2004 at Angels
    Mike Wood 3.1 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, Shawn Camp 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, Scott Sullivan 2.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 0 BB
    (W 7-3 at Mariners)
  • 19-4
    July 21, 2008 vs. Tigers
    Luke Hochevar 5.0 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, Jimmy Gobble 1.0 IP, 7 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 4 BB
    (L 1-7 vs. Tigers)
  • 19-1
    July 26, 2010 vs. Twins (I was there!)
    Zack Greinke 4.0 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, Kanekoa Texeira 1.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB
    (L 2-11 vs. Twins)
  • 19-1
    May 16, 2011 vs. Indians
    Kyle Davies .1 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, Vin Mazzaro 2.1 IP, 11 H, 14 R, 14 ER, 3 BB
    (The Royals host me and others at Blog Your Way To The K)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Royals Uni With Striped Stirrups

With thanks to Tim E. O'Brien, who has provided a fantastic Photoshop template to play with uniform mockups, I give you the classic Royals uniform with one tweak: striped stirrups. I think the Royals are one of the best looking teams in sports, and if they ever change their hat design or classic look, I will lead the riot at Kauffman Stadium. (I prefer to pretend the whole black phase never happened.) About the only possible improvement to their current uniform would be striped stirrups (and of course for players to all cuff their pants just below the knee to show them off). Here is how that might look:

Friday, May 13, 2011

Royals Bullpen Usage

Tim Collins is a great story and has pitched well so far, but Ned Yost's seeming over-usage of him is starting to get a little puzzling.

Jeremy Jeffress, with his 3.78 FIP and .254 wOBA against, would be my choice to start carrying a heavier load while lightening Collins's.