Saturday, July 23, 2011

WPA Watch

Before his crazy hot streak in June, Alcides Escobar was on his way to setting a new low in Royals win probability added. He looks to have saved himself from replacing Neifi Perez's mark from 2002.

Kyle Davies likely won't get enough playing time to catch Jose Lima's 2005 record for worst WPA season by a Royals pitcher, but game for game, he's right on pace.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Sporting News Introduces Some Of Your 1886 Kansas City Cowboys

From the May 10, 1886 The Sporting News:

Jim Whitney
Jim a regular dude, drinks lemonade pale and chews gum.

Mertie Hackett...makes friends wherever he goes. Mertie is a rather giddy young man, parts his hair in the middle, wears patent leathers, and dotes on the ladies.

Fatty Briody
Charlie ("Fatty") Briody, the dashing catcher...was always a catcher, in fact, he was born that way. In early days he was a catcher on the Erie Canal, that is, he used to stand on the bank and catch the captain's profanity and then hurl it back at him. Charlie is a good one and loves baseball nearly as well as he loves a good dinner.

Al Myers...eats three meals a day and chews nine toothpicks, and will drink milk when some one else pays for it.

Jim a pretty boy and plays ball well if his girl is in the grand stand.

Charley Bassett
Charley Bassett, the shortstop...covers a great deal of ground--he has very large feet--and is a good player. He likes pie and will change his boarding house unless he gets it three times a day.

Jimmie very handsome but married and he keeps regular hours, so that the manager cannot fine him for breaking the rules.

Paul very superstitious, but still he used to love a cross-eyed girl.

Swinging At Strikes, Laying Off Balls

I don't know if this is anything or not, but because I'm a happening guy, I was playing with the Royals plate discipline numbers from Fangraphs. I decided to try to judge how well each Royals hitter is doing when it comes to swinging at strikes vs. laying off balls. The Z-Swing% in the chart below is the percentage of pitches in the zone at which each player offers, and the O-Swing% is the percentage of pitches out of the zone at which the hitter hacks. The Z-O% column simply looks at how much higher the Z-Swing rate is than the O-Swing rate (and then I've included a fourth column to show the player's overall swing rate): 

I was shocked to see Moose come out on top of this list. He is swinging a lot, something that was expected, but is apparently doing a good job of identifying strikes at which to swing. Seems strange since he is not squaring balls up at all when he makes contact lately, but I take this as a positive sign (albeit one with the required small sample size warning).

Billy's swing rate has decreased every year he has played. From 200711, it has gone 47%, 45%, 43.3%, 42.7%, 40%.

Kila was not swinging much when he was up, but he was not necessarily making great choices when he did swing *coughbreakingballscough*.

Everyone's favorite lead-off hitter comes in last not just for the Royals, but for all of MLB (tied with Erick Aybar). I started looking into this because I expected Frenchy to come out at the bottom of the league, but I had the wrong Royal in mind. Frenchy comes in at 131st out of the 151 qualified MLB batters.

Here is the top and bottom five qualified MLB hitters in Z-O swing%. I've included wRC+ for each hitter to see how the approaches are working for each:

Friday, July 15, 2011

Flip Flop A's Standings Through The Years

George Brett 1980

Flip Flop Royals Standings Through The Years

clicken to embiggen
I have been enjoying the new book Flip Flop Fly Ball from the great Craig Robinson recently. It is a book of mostly baseball infographics, but also includes several wonderful short essays by Robinson about his experiences falling in love with baseball as a mid-30s Brit. Several of the graphics inspire me to want to steal a concept and apply it to Royals history. One spread in the book is dedicated to Expos history, and includes a graph similar to the Royals one you see above plotting the Expos finish in their divisional standings each year. You can hear the Royals standings in musical form by clicking on Craig's post here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Mickey Mantle & the 1951 Kansas City Blues

Mickey Mantle was sent down to the Kansas City Blues 60 years ago today. He played 40 games with KC. All of his minor league time came in Missouri and Kansas, between the 1949 Independence (Kansas) Yankees, 1950 Joplin (Missouri) Miners and '51 Blues.
Mantle and (I think) manager George Selkirk
Mantle in middle row, third from right
Detail of Mantle. Future Yankee team- and roommate Bob Cerv is to Mantle's right.
An auction site listed this as possibly Mantle's hat.

1951 19 Kansas City 40 191 32 60 9 3 11 50 5 23 30 .361 .445 .651 1.096 108
Provided by

Tip of the hat to Matt Starr of All Starr Sports Zone for posting info on anniversary of Mantle coming to KC.