Tag Archive | "Power Surge"

Should We Go Loco For Lorenzo

As Royals fans we all know about Dayton’s plan. We hear Dayton wants young athletic players to fill his Major League roster. We hear how spacious Kauffman Stadium’s outfield is. Then in 2011 we sign Melky Cabrera coming off the worst season of his career. Offensively, we knew Melky had tools, but defensively we knew he could be atrocious. He was coming off a season where his UZR/150 rating was -25.2 in Atlanta as a CF. Not the worst of his career, but you see my point. After this signing, came the inevitable trade of Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers. This is where our Lorenzo Cain story starts.

Lorenzo was the young up and coming CF of the Milwaukee Brewers. Lorenzo had experienced his first taste of the big leagues in 2010, playing in 43 games. We heard about his athleticism and the defensive tools he was bringing. We clamored for Lorenzo to get the opportunity to start in 2011 as our centerfielder. Lorenzo performed well in spring training, but Melky was promised CF. Staying true to his word to Melky, Lorenzo was off to Omaha. In Omaha, Lorenzo proved he was ready for his chance. In 128 games Lorenzo hit .312 with a .380 OBP. Throughout his minor league progression, he has shown an ability to hit for average and get on base. In 7 minor league seasons, Lorenzo has posted a .295 average and a .368 OBP. This year, Lorenzo had a power surge hitting 16 home runs to go along with his 28 doubles and 7 triples. Will this translate into major league production? This will be the big question going into the 2012 season. Bill James seems to think so. His projections for Lorenzo Cain’s 2012 season show splits of .284/10/58. With his past numbers and the development he has continued to show, it seems we can expect solid offensive production from Lorenzo. By no means should we expect him to produce like Melky did in 2011, but who would have ever thought Melky would have produced the way he did.

That brings us to an aspect Lorenzo brings that no “legitimate” Kansas City CF has had. SPEED! Cain currently may not be a prolific base stealer, but has shown flashes that he knows how to use his speed. More importantly, Lorenzo will be able to use his speed and instincts to patrol the spacious outfield at Kauffman Stadium. During times that Lorenzo struggles offensively, which is something we can expect from a young player with a long swing, his defense can save runs. When you compare the UZR/150 ratings it can put a player’s defensive value into runs saved. The most fascinating aspect of this statistic is how much defense can off-set a player’s offensive value. Let’s compare recent Kansas City CF’s defensive statistics.

2011 Melky Cabrera

Season Team

Pos

Inn

Rarm

Rhr

Rpm

Drs

Bis

plays

Rzr

Ooz

Arm

Rngr

errR

UZR

UZR/150

2011 Royals

CF

1265.2

-1

2

-4

-3

276

249

.902

67

-3.0

-6.3

0.7

-8.6

-9.7

2009 – 10 Mitch Maier

Season Team

Pos

Inn

Rarm

Rhr

Rpm

Drs

Bis

plays

Rzr

Ooz

Tzl

Fsr

Arm

Rngr

errR

UZR

UZR/150

2009 Royals

CF

593.0

4

0

-6

-2

162

150

.926

31

-4.0

-4

3.8

-4.5

0.7

0.1

-0.4

2010 Royals

CF

525.2

3

0

-3

0

158

147

.930

26

0.0

-2

3.2

-2.5

0.0

0.6

2.7

2010 Lorenzo Cain

Season Team

Pos

Inn

Rarm

Rhr

Rpm

Drs

Bis

plays

Rzr

Ooz

Tzl

Fsr

Arm

Rngr

errR

UZR

UZR/150

2010 Brewers

CF

306.1

2

0

4

6

79

71

.899

25

2.0

2

-1.0

3.2

-0.7

1.5

5.7

 

As you can see from the sample sizes above Lorenzo Cain profiles to be a much better defensive centerfielder than the players who have patrolled centerfield in Kansas City most recently. Lorenzo’s defensive ability will continue to improve as he grows comfortable with his surroundings at Kauffman Stadium. One of my favorite quotes from Lorenzo regarding his defensive ability was taken from an interview with Rob White of the Omaha World Herald. “I like to run around out there and use my legs a little bit,” he said. “I try to get the best reads I can and make plays for our pitchers. It’s always fun to save some runs when you can.” For our young and developing pitching staff this is vital. We witnessed the difference an outstanding defensive SS can make. Adding the additional defensive element up the middle will strengthen our defense significantly.

That brings us back to our initial question. Should We Go Loco For Lorenzo? Since 2004 when David Dejesus made his full time Major League debut we have not had a center fielder to be excited about. If Lorenzo Cain can provide us with David Dejesus like offensive production, which is close to what his current statistics project to be. With the defensive production Lorenzo Cain provides we may have someone special on our hands. Is it time to go Loco? I say why not! Lorenzo still has a lot to prove, but the talent and desire is there. Lorenzo profiles to be one more piece to the championship puzzle we all crave. Let’s Go Loco For Lorenzo!

Posted in Featured, RoyalsComments (2)

Adron Chambers Arrives In St. Louis

The Cardinals announced their final September call ups to join the team now that the Memphis Redbirds have concluded their season. Tony Cruz, Tyler Greene and Adron Chambers will all arrive in St. Louis in time for the September 6th matchup with the Brewers.

Chambers
Tyler Greene will be given every chance to prove that he can be the shortstop on this team in 2012. Tony Cruz may very well be trying to prove the same thing at the backup catcher position. Adron Chambers, well, he is simply getting a chance to show what he has.

Chambers was a player that the team drafted in late rounds (38th round of the 2007 draft) and placed little pressure on to become anything more than an extra piece in the machine. Chambers, however, had other ideas and showed that he was willing to be patient and improve at every step.

One of the fastest prospects in the Cardinals organization, Chambers has proven to be able to produce a solid on base percentage, a fair amount of walks, and a good glove in the field. He does come with his share of strikeouts, though he has lowered his strikeout per plate appearance average every year, just not by much. The left handed outfielder stands in at only five foot ten inches tall and 180 pounds, but is enjoying a power surge this year, clubbing 10 home runs and 19 doubles to go with his 44 runs batted in. He shows off his speed with 22 stolen bases while only being caught 13 times this season.

The most interesting thing about Chambers may be the one thing that Tony LaRussa has been looking for: he can hit lefties and righties. In fact, his splits are almost identical this season, posting a .274/.366/.703 (Avg/On Base/OPS) slash-line against left handers, while posting a nearly identical .278/.368/.813 against righties. He does seem to hit for power better with a right handed pitcher on the mound, but he is not a hindrance just because of the hurler’s arm preference.

Here is a quick look at Chambers’ career numbers from our friends at Baseball Reference.

Year Age Tm Lev G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2007 20 Johnson City Rk 36 129 111 16 31 7 1 0 10 6 5 10 21 .279 .362 .360 .723 40
2008 21 Quad Cities A 95 384 336 56 80 13 7 3 25 13 8 33 66 .238 .322 .345 .667 116
2009 22 Palm Beach A+ 122 517 448 66 127 17 16 1 46 21 12 47 96 .283 .370 .400 .770 179
2010 23 2 Teams AA-AAA 112 375 321 63 91 9 6 6 35 14 5 40 68 .283 .379 .405 .784 130
2010 23 Springfield AA 75 292 252 52 71 9 5 5 27 8 4 31 50 .282 .376 .417 .793 105
2010 23 Memphis AAA 37 83 69 11 20 0 1 1 8 6 1 9 18 .290 .390 .362 .753 25
2011 24 Memphis AAA 127 496 421 72 117 19 4 10 44 22 13 53 88 .278 .370 .413 .783 174
5 Seasons 492 1901 1637 273 446 65 34 20 160 76 43 183 339 .272 .362 .390 .752 639
AAA (2 seasons) AAA 164 579 490 83 137 19 5 11 52 28 14 62 106 .280 .373 .406 .779 199
A (1 season) A 95 384 336 56 80 13 7 3 25 13 8 33 66 .238 .322 .345 .667 116
AA (1 season) AA 75 292 252 52 71 9 5 5 27 8 4 31 50 .282 .376 .417 .793 105
Rk (1 season) Rk 36 129 111 16 31 7 1 0 10 6 5 10 21 .279 .362 .360 .723 40
A+ (1 season) A+ 122 517 448 66 127 17 16 1 46 21 12 47 96 .283 .370 .400 .770 179
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/5/2011.

How much playing time Chambers will get in 2011 has yet to be seen, but the young man is impressing the organization every year and just might be getting the first serious look at the big stage that he so well deserves.

Posted in Cardinals, MinorsComments (0)

Albert Pujols Post Broken Arm

Albert Pujols hit a 2-run home run in the first inning Thursday, jump-starting the Cardinals to a 6-2 win. Jake Westbrook threw eight innings en route to his 8th win of the year.

Pujols’ recovery from a broken forearm suffered 19 June has been nothing short of remarkable. Mere mortals take 6 weeks to heal, and another 2-to-3 to regain enough strength in their atrophied muscles to swing a bat with their former authority. The Cardinals first baseman missed 15 games total. He’s also hitting the ball out regularly again; through last night’s game, he was homering once every 10.75 at bats, an improvement of almost 6 at bats from his 16.47 pace through the first 73 games (for the record, his career rate is 1 HR for every 14.12 AB). So he’s back and better than ever, right?

Yes and no. As mentioned above, he’s driving the ball over the wall more. Even with the power surge, though, Pujols’ slash line of .233/.277/.535 since returning is worse than his .279/.355/.500 line before the injury. His drop in batting average can largely be attributed to worse luck on balls in play. His BABIP was .253 up to the injury, and .182 since. His BABIP was due to improve – it was well below his career mark of .311 already in 2011 – even before his injury. It’s still likely to bounce back, and his average should respond.

Although I’m looking at a small sample size, his OBP is off. This appears due to both the low BABIP discussed above, and because he’s walking less. Pujols has walked 4 times in 47 PA since returning, or about once every 15 appearances. Before the injury his rate was once every 8 (that number includes the 4 intentional walks he’s gotten this year). It seems when the Cardinals struggle Pujols presses at the plate (or perhaps Pujols pressing at the plate causes the Cardinals to struggle). Low walk rates can indicate a player who’s trying to do too much.

Why would he be less patient? This year’s lineup is much deeper than that of last year when he walked about once every 7 plate appearances, meaning he doesn’t have to carry the team like he did in years past. Is it a desire to prove he’s 100% healthy in his contract year? Could it be just coincidence? Bernie Miklasz pointed out the Cardinals team OBP has dropped significantly from their .357 April/May to .309 since 1 June, so AP’s low OBP might just be indicative of a change in approach by all the Cardinal hitters.

The Cardinals are a much more dangerous club with Albert in the lineup. He has been productive since returning, which has quelled all discussion about him coming back too early, but he still is not the hitter he was his first 10 years in the league. He needs to maintain his patience at the plate, and continue to hit the ball hard. His next hot streak is just around the corner. Hopefully he turns that corner soon.

Posted in CardinalsComments (1)

2010 Year In Review: Royals Catcher

Royals catching saw a dramatic turnover following the 2009 season. John Buck had been with the club for six seasons, and Miguel Olivo had seen most of the action in ’09. The Buck/Olivo combo produced a nice power surge at the plate, bashing 32 home runs. Cy Young winner Zack Greinke heaped praise on Olivo’s work behind the plate, but neither catcher had the reputation as being strong defensively, and GM Dayton Moore opted to let both go to free agency without attempting to retain either.

Jason Kendall

Moore wanted a veteran presence behind the plate, and reportedly went after Ivan Rodriguez as his first choice. After Rodriguez signed with Washington, Moore inked 36-year-old Jason Kendall. It was clear to most observers that Kendall was a shell of the All-Star catcher he had been with Pittsburgh, and Moore was questioned for giving Kendall two years with the Royals for six million dollars. Meanwhile, Brayan Pena had shown promise at the plate in limited duty in 2009 (.273/.318/.442), and it was thought he would get some playing time. Instead, Kendall was allowed to catch virtually every game until his arm literally fell apart (muscles completely detached from bone in his shoulder). It didn’t seem to matter that Kendall was ineffective offensively, defensively, and in his handling of the pitching staff.

Trey Hillman had Kendall in the bottom half of the lineup until the beginning of June, when he moved him up to the two spot. Hillman was canned a few weeks later, but new manager Ned Yost never batted Kendall anywhere but second the rest of the way. Yost went so far as to call Kendall an ideal number two hitter. This was apparently due to Kendall’s “bat control,” with the idea he makes a lot of contact that would hopefully move runners over. Royals fans could be forgiven for having a hard time looking past Kendall’s .298 OBP and .266 SLG when hitting second. Kendall’s lack of power was epic: in 490 plate appearances, he hit a total of zero triples and home runs.

Brayan Pena was no better on the rare occasions he saw the field before Kendall’s injury. The fault may not have been entirely Pena’s though — rotting on the bench may have prevented him from finding his rhythm. Once Pena became a regular in September and October, he found his stroke and hit .309/.349/.432. In the 142nd game of the year, Pena got Royals catchers off the schneid with the first—and last—home run hit by a Royals catcher all year.

Brayan Pena was a different hitter before and after getting regular playing time

As for game-calling and defense, surely the gritty veteran was better than Pena, right? Well, the pitching staff had a 5.13 ERA with Kendall behind the plate and a 4.75 ERA when Pena was calling pitches. Base-runners loved to test Kendall’s arm: he led the AL in both stolen bases allowed and caught stealing. Kendall threw out 23% of would-be stealers, and Pena nabbed 28%. (The AL average was 21%.) Matt Klaassen’s involved catcher defense ratings put Kendall’s defense at -.8 runs below average, and Pena’s .4 runs above average.

Brayan Pena & Bruce Chen

When it comes to the intangibles that Kendall reputedly brings, it is next to impossible for a fan to gauge the existence or worth of those. But from where I sat on my couch or at Kauffman Stadium, Pena has one of the most infectious attitudes and smiles in the game, and seemed to get more excited than anybody when the Royals pulled off an exciting play or win. Kendall never had much to say on the bench or to the media as far as I could tell. Who knows, maybe behind closed doors Kendall turned into a guru and imparted valuable wisdom unto the Royals’ young players. Even if that was the case, there just did not seem to be any reason for him to play so much. (Only A.J. Pierzynski and Matt Wieters saw more action behind the plate in the AL than Kendall, even though he missed the last 31 games of the season.) Kendall could have mentored Brayan Pena just as well in a back-up role. The harsh reality is that the Royals were a much improved team after Kendall was out of the lineup.

Pena was joined in KC by Lucas May after Kendall’s move to the IR. May had just joined the organization after coming from the Dodgers in the Scott Podsednik deal at the trading deadline, and didn’t see enough big league action (12 games, 39 plate appearances) to draw any conclusions. Soon after May was acquired, Brad Mertel wrote for RoyalsProspects.com that “May projects as a future backup catcher at the big league level but if his power numbers and defense continue to improve he could force the Royals hand into giving him a starting spot.”

final 2010 numbers

Kendall’s injury is expected to keep him on the shelf for the first six to eight weeks of the 2011 season, leaving Moore with a difficult decision between standing pat with a Pena/May combo or trying to make an off-season move to add a catcher from outside the organization. It doesn’t help that he has tied up $3.75 million in Kendall for next season. It seems Pena may have earned some playing time, but it would not be surprising if Moore adds a veteran backstop before the season starts.

Posted in Featured, RoyalsComments (0)

Royals Fantasy Report – Home Sweet Home

This week the Royals host Cleveland and Chicago each for a three game series.

Zack Greinke is scheduled to pitch Tuesday against Cleveland. He has been un-Cy Young like since the All-Star break posting a 2-3 record with a 4.83 ERA in six games. His last outing against Cleveland, he took the win while striking out eight and allowing three earned runs. Greinke is also scheduled to pitch against the White Sox on Sunday making him a two start pitcher. He took the win while striking out three, walking none, and allowing six earned runs in his last outing against Chicago. Greinke has been inconsistent this year. Start at your own risk. Expect mixed results in his two starts this week.

Joakim Soria continues to be a top closer this season. He set a franchise record last Friday by converting his 25th consecutive save opportunity against New York. Soria has converted 32 of 34 save opportunities this season. On the season, he has a 2.06 ERA with 52 strikeouts through 49 innings. Even though he is pitching for a non-contending team, he is a must start in all fantasy formats.

Billy Butler hit his first home run in August on Friday. I like the batting average but his other numbers are not impressive because of the position he plays. Fantasy baseball owners expect power numbers from a first baseman and he does not seem relevant for his position. He does have the power potential to be a first baseman but fantasy owners are wondering when they will see it. Butler is batting .360 with two home runs, 11 RBI’s, and six doubles against the Indians and White Sox this season in 17 games. As long as the batting average stays above .300, he should be active most fantasy formats.

Alex Gordon is not worth starting in any league. He is worth holding onto for the future because of his upside. Yuniesky Betancourt can be a useful short stop in AL leagues only. His 10 home runs is a career high. Don’t expect the power surge to continue though. His .287 on base percentage turns many fantasy owners away.

Posted in Fantasy, RoyalsComments (2)


Fantasy Sports Machine