Friday, May 22, 2009

The Kansas City Royals HiV LOB, Sinister Week Six

When we checked in with the HiV LOB last week, things weren't looking good, and depending on your perspective of the half-glass of water, things could slightly improve, or get ugly quick. While week five wound up a four-win/three-loss week, that barely-above-.500 mark leaves no room for error, and in my estimation, you're actually heading into the next week from a somewhat-negative standpoint when you averaged eight and-a-half left on in the seven-game stretch. Add to that that the week wrapped up with the first season's sweep (courtesy of LAA) and went straight into another one to kick off the following week (a two-game set with OAK). The result? A four-loss/two-win week six. We'll examine a few of the numbers on the other side of that pesky "Read More" link.

Week Six

5/12 @ OAK: 3-12 (L); 10 hits, eight left on
5/13 @ OAK: 2-7 (L); four hits, eight left on
5/14 vs BAL: 5-9 (L); 12 hits, 12 left on
5/15 vs BAL: 1-8 (W); 13 hits, 10 left on
5/16 vs BAL: 2-3 (L); seven hits, 13 left on
5/17 vs BAL: 4-7 (W); nine hits, 17 left on

The sums for the week: 55 hits, 27 runs scored, and a (for consecutive weeks now) season-high 68 base runners stranded. I suppose in some sense, the rise and fall of these numbers go hand in hand. That is, the fewer the hits means the fewer the runs, and thus a higher potential for guys left on base. But it's not a certainty.

Compared with last week, the Royals managed nine fewer hits, a mere four fewer runs, and stranded eight more runners. So pardon the cliche, but something's gotta give. I'm not sure if it's being more aggressive with your speed, or better situational hitting, or a combination of the two, but leaving nearly 70 guys on the line in a six-game week is flat out unacceptable. There's also the oft-chatted-up X-factor of the lineup juggling, which is fascinating, really.

Take the Royals catching platoon for example. John Buck always catches Gil Meche, and Miguel Olivo always catches Zack Greinke. It was announced in the off-season that Olivo would be the starter, and he has been, which basically leaves Buck to catch Greinke, and then the day-game-that-follows-a-night-game duty (Editor's Note: Sometimes referred to in the English language as Sunday.) behind the plate. Now, Olivo was all fired up last year about playing time. Olivo hit .255 with 12 home runs and 41 RsBI in 2008; he slugged .444 and had an on-base percentage of .278. Buck, on the other hand, hit .224 with nine homers and 48 runs driven in; he slugged .365 with an OBP of .304. There are two key differences between the two guys in determining who gets the starting job though, and they are 1) Buck played in 25 more games than Olivo, and 2) Buck had 24 assists to Olivo's 32. So the batting figures either favor Olivo, or are a wash, and Olivo clearly has the better arm at gunning down attempted base thiefs, so you give him the job, and consider Buck as the occasional DH or PH on his nights off.

Catcher or no, you're still left with eight hitting slots to figure out. Do you stay traditional and keep your speed at the top of the order and follow them up with your measty sticks? Or do you mix it up depending on who's hitting well at the moment and who's not? It's all kind of a mind scramble either way, but to get back to the point of this feature, there has to be a way to get these guys producing offensively. There are, as it stands right at this moment, two guys on the roster hitting .300 or better, and one of them is Willie Bloomquist. That'd be the Willie Bloomquist that last year's awful Seattle club let go, the Bloomquist that was supposed to be a fill-in utility guy, the guy that has only 75 at bats on the season. The other guy is Alberto "Baby-Throwing Doubles Machine" Callaspo.

A few hitters are toying with the notion: Mark Teahen's at .279, Billy Butler's at .283, and Jose Guillen sits at .299. The rest of these guys are floating around the middle .200s range, and that's not gonna cut it. For the season, the Royals have 323 hits, they've crossed home 177 times, and hung a solid 298 runners out on the line to dry. The simple answer is more hits and more hits consistently. Easier said than done. The complexity in it is keeping your second baseman's bat nice, warm, and in the lineup everyday, while you try to get everyone not named Alberto Callaspo to simply produce more. And it's gotta change quick because the Royals are nearing the place where their LOB numbers are doubling their runs scored.


louise said...

KC Royals should be always competitive enough to keep pace with the others. I really like them; they’ve always been my favourite teams in MLB. Just read about them here: