Posted on 16 January 2012.
Posted on 06 May 2011.
The Royals surprising start thus far has been built on middle of the order production, defense and shutdown performances from a very young bullpen. As expected, the weak link has been the starting pitching. Royals starters are sporting a collective 5.17 ERA, worst in the American League. That the team with the worst starting ERA has jumped out to a 17-14 record is a minor miracle. It is also the major factor preventing many fans from fully buying into this team as a contender just yet.
I have delved deep into the numbers to see how the Royals rotation stacks up within the AL Central. The results probably will not be encouraging to the Royals faithful, though there is some reason to hope for minor improvement.
My ranking of the rotations (through May 4):
The White Sox, Indians, and Tigers clearly have the superior rotations to this point, with the Twins and Royals lagging far behind. But here is one reason for (slight) optimism I found:
While the starters have so far allowed runs at a terrible rate, their xFIP suggests some of that is bad luck and the staff ERA has the potential to decrease significantly. The bad news is that their 4.30 xFIP is still only good for fourth in the division.
Here is how that ERA/xFIP discrepancy is distributed among the Royals starters:
Those ugly ERAs from Davies, Francis, and Hochevar are three of the worst five among ALC starters, but there is significant room for improvement if their xFIPs are any indication. Those three have the most “unlucky” ERA to xFIP ratio among ALC starters. The biggest reason I see for this is the high rate of fly balls that are leaving the park: 13% of fly balls have gone for home runs against KC starters, highest in the majors, and a number that should dip closer to the norm of 9.5-10%.
But even with room to expect improvement, the starting staff as now made up will continue to be the achilles’ heel of the 2011 Royals and temper dreams of contending for the division crown. If the team continues overcoming the starting rotation and can hang around .500 or better, the Royals front office will face critical decisions about promoting one or more of the arms from the farm. People who know about these things suggest Mike Montgomery and Danny Duffy are close and could have an impact. The early promotion of Eric Hosmer suggests one or more of those pitchers could follow him to KC soon. If the offense, defense and bullpen can carry on at current levels, a shot in the arm to the rotation could really start to make this team interesting.
For more nerd kicks, a look at the AL Central pitchers by their average game score (through May 4):
You may follow Aaron Stilley on the Tweeties if you are into that kind of thing.
Posted on 24 August 2010.
We have all heard it. St. Louis fans are often called “The best fans in baseball”. On a very large level, I agree with this sentiment. The fans will applaud an opposing player for a grand play, reward their beloved hometown players with cheers for the smallest accomplishment, and seem to know the game better than most casual fans in various cities around the United States.
To me, however, it takes more than that. While I can appreciate a player going first to third or a diving grab at the warning track regardless of the uniform the player is wearing, it seems lately that I have discovered some of the most outspoken and, dare I say, unsportsmanlike fans where I least expected to – the Gateway City itself.
I watched this week as fans all over the internet would disrespect, disparage, and flood social media sites with negative remarks towards Lou Piniella. One of the most successful managers in history that has been colorful, boisterous and at times angry, Lou has decided to hang up the uniform and head home to take care of his mother, who has battled health issues for most of the year. A manager that may have been most known for his temper flaring, ejection inviting, tantrums from time to time, there was one word that I have never heard used in the conversation about Lou – disrespectful. He always respected the game, the players and his opponents. For fans to not recognize this simply because he donned attire that featured a baby bear and a large “C” is astonishing from a fan base that claims to be fair and appreciative of great baseball.
Perhaps the largest example of my disappointment in the fans of the Cardinals comes in the consistent desire to rehash the incidents surrounding the Reds and Cardinals recently. Now, do not take this wrong, I do not agree with the actions of Johnny Cueto or Brandon Phillips during these events. Nor do I agree with the punishment handed down. That being said, it is done. The league has decided on the punishment, the time has been served, and the players involved are in their respective places now. The focus of both teams at this point, as well as their fan bases, needs to be squarely on the field and the opponents ahead. There is a pennant race to be won and, let us all be honest with each other, Jason LaRue was not going to be a deciding factor for this ball club. I feel bad to see LaRue on the shelf, he is a great guy, but can we please move on? Complaining about the decision by major league baseball and focusing on it each time Cueto pitches or Bryan Anderson hits only serves to prove the comments of Brandon Phillips to be true.
The best fans in baseball need to remember what got them that name, they need to buckle down and support their team, and they need to leave the hate talk and poor loser mentality to the fans that do it much better. There is an over abundance of fans in many other cities that fill that quota quite well.
Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
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