The Kansas City Royals are a week into their 2012 campaign. Seven games is not a large sample size. However, there are some things you can infer from the Royals past behavior during previous seasons under the current administration. I’m going to make an attempt at discerning what we know about the Royals already, and what I’m not sure about.
Since Luke Hochevar got the start yesterday afternoon for the Royals home opener I’m going to use his favorite phrase; “ummm..You know?” to help facilitate this process. In honor of Luke Hochevar I’m going to list things I know about the Royals under the heading “You know”, and things I’m not sure about under the heading “Ummm”.
Before yesterday the Royals’ starting pitching has an ERA of 1.85. When your sample size is six games there are a lot of “yeah, buts”. You could say that the low ERA has more to do with Royals opponents than their pitchers. That holds up with the Athletics who might score the fewest runs in the AL this season. It doesn’t hold up with the Angels who are projected to score a lot of runs.
I don’t think the starting pitching is as bad as Hochevar’s Mazzaroesque 1st inning yesterday. Of course, the real answer is always somewhere in between. I think the starting staff will be better than we expected, but not as good as they’ve been outside of this guy….
I almost went off on this tangent last season. If you read between the lines of anything I wrote last season you might have picked up on it. Luke Hochevar is my least favorite Royal. There, I got that out there. I think it started with his holdout coming out of the amateur draft. It wasn’t the holdout specifically; lots of players do what Hochevar did, including teammate Aaron Crow. However, maybe it was the holdout and then his accompanying suckage at the Major League level. I’ve been waiting, and waiting, and waiting for Hochaver to turn a corner. Even though Dayton Moore’s people didn’t draft him, he continues to be treated like he was. I don’t know what it is.
Hochevar was starting to grow on me during the latter part of last season. He was finally becoming the ace pitcher that he was supposed to be, and the ace pitcher the Royals need him to be. Then yesterday’s bottom of the 1st happened re-enforcing my belief that Hochevar is a 1st round draft pick bust. Maybe I’m still mad about one bad inning in April, but Hochaver’s body of work doesn’t contain much for me to change my mind. I know the trade mark Luke Hochevar Inning will be something Royals fans will have to deal with as long as Hochaver is on the team.
Coming into the season we thought the Royals offense would be potent. However, that has not transpired. The Royals have been shut-out twice in seven games. For comparison, last year the Royals were not shut-out until May 14th, and did not get shutout again until May 21st. The players we thought would be producers have gotten off to slow starts. Two of those players, Lorenzo Cain and Salvador Perez are on the disabled list. I’m confident these slumps will not continue. Just like I expect the starting pitching to come back to earth, I expect the offense to get going.
I hate starting out on this tangent but this team’s base running is bothering more than anything. Ned Yost claims they’re just being “aggressive”. I think Ned’s reaction is just a front for the media. Getting picked-off is not aggressive, not watching the runner in front of you is not aggressive, it’s not paying attention. Even if the Royals running out of innings is a product of being aggressive, it’s troublesome that this organization believes that aggressive base running is a proper strategy.
I’m far from a Sabrematrician, in fact I’ll argue with some of their major tenants. However, one aspect I believe from their research is that stealing bases is the most over-rated offensive statistic in baseball. Stealing bases doesn’t lead to more wins, it doesn’t even lead to more runs. In fact, I’m sure stealing bases prevents your team from scoring runs. I wrote about this last season when I got tired of the Royals tooting their horn about leading the league in stolen bases. The Royals need to stop falling asleep on the base paths. They need to stop running themselves out of innings, and they need to stop being aggressive. But one thing I know is that the Royals base running continues to be terrible.
What do we know about the Royals? Aside from what I’ve discussed, not much. After the Angels series I was confident that this year was going to live up to expectations and we were going to enjoy it. Right now I feel like the Royals are going down the path of the 106 loss 2005 team filled with moments of historical suckage and comedy. I’m probably right on both accounts. Most experts expected the Royals to hang around .500. Right now they’re one game below .500. If this were a football season the Royals would have just finished the 3rd quarter during Week 1 and they’re down by a field goal. As fans that’s something we need to remember.