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Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Royals Sabermetric Report

This is first of periodic sabermetric reports on the Royals and Cubs. Basically, this report is meant to fill in the statistical holes you'll find in newspapers and the general media. I've broken down the report into Team, Offense, Defense, Pitching, and Management that includes stats and a comments section based on sabermetric principles.

As of Monday August 9th

Team
Actual Record: 39-70 467 Runs Scored, 609 Allowed
Pythagorean Record: 41-69
Kauffman Park Factor: .933 for runs (18th) and .767 for homeruns (27th)

Comments: Last year the Royals outperformed their Pythagorean projection by 4 games and this year they've regressed towards the mean and then some. Only the Diamondbacks, Expos, and Mariners have scored fewer runs and only the Indians, Reds, Rockies, and Diamondbacks have allowed more. Poor offense + poor pitching = a 10-58 record when scoring 4 or fewer runs and 14-59 when allowing 4 runs or more. Last year they were 68-34 when scoring 4 or more runs and 31-76 when allowing 4 or more runs.

The combination of moving the fences back and the cooler, wetter weather in Kansas City this year has made Kauffman a pitcher's park again after several years being a hitter's paradise. I don't think the park changes have played any role in the Royals poor year. Moving the fences back should have helped May and Gobble which likely offset the damage it did to Sweeney, Randa, and Stairs.

Offense
OPS Leaders
Sweeney 850
Stinnet 836
Stairs 811
Harvey 807
Randa 721

VORP Numbers
Sweeney 24.8
Harvey 20.7
Stairs 12.5
Randa 5.1
Stinnet 4.7
Graffanino/Santiago 4.5
Berroa 1.2
Buck -6.4
Relaford -7.9
Brown -9.8

Pitches/Plate Appearance
Randa 3.89
DeJesus 3.88
Stairs 3.87
Harvey 3.76
Berroa 3.61
Brown 3.61
Relaford 3.72
Sweeney 3.40

Comments: Sweeney, despite having a bad year is still the Royals best offensive player in OPS and value over replacement player (VORP). Ken Harvey continues to be overrated with his .300 AVG still intact with only 33 extra base hits and 23 walks. Not suprisingly he also has the highest ground out to fly out ratio on the team at 2.00 and has grounded into a team high 12 double plays. The book on Harvey is to bust him low and inside with hard stuff. When opposing teams do that he hits plenty of foul balls in the batter's box and soft grounders in the infield.

Only Sweeney, Harvey, and Stairs actually have much positive offensive value. Dee Brown, despite only 143 plate appearances somehow managed to be -9.8 in VORP. This is due to his 5 (yes only 5) extra base hits and 4 walks for an OPS of 553. I was one who advocated giving Brown a chance to play this season to see what he could do. The Dee Brown experiment should mercifully end when the season does.

Sweeney is seeing fewer pitches this year than previously (over 3.70 the previous 3 years) , which accounts for his walks being down. He's also flying out more than in the past but I'm not sure what if anything that means.

As a team the Royals have a .318 OBP, last in the league. The patience that hitting coach Jeff Pentland preaches has not taken hold.

On the plus side Abraham Nunez is an exciting player to watch and should garner the lion's share of at bats the rest of the way to see if he'll figure into next year's plans. He still has a chance to be a productive major leaguer. I would install him in right field everyday and then share time between Brown and Mateo in LF (or bring Guiel back up and release Brown). In addition, David DeJesus has an 813 OPS since the break and has seen 3.89 pitches per plate appearance. He should only get better and should be fun to watch in the upcoming years.

Defense
Defensive Efficiency: .6787

Zone Rating
Graffanino 2b .804 (7th)
Berroa ss .768 (10th)
Randa 3b .813 (2nd)
DeJesus cf .846
Stairs rf .884
Sweeney 1b .833
Harvey 1b .818
Relaford 2b .745

Comments: The Royals are tied for last in efficiency (the odds of making an out when a ball, other than a homerun, is put into play) with Cleveland. Coming into the season Tony Pena thought the team had a good defense. Boy was he wrong. The problem with looking at Zone Rating (the odds of making a play on a ball hit into the fielder's zone) for the Royals players is that many of them haven't played enough innings to get a good sample size. However, Berroa, Relaford, Sweeney, and Harvey all have very poor zone ratings while DeJesus, Stairs(?), and Graffanino's are ok (remember that zone rating's differ based on position). Only Randa can be said to be a good defensive player on this team.

Pitching
VORP Numbers
Grienke 15.1
Cerda 13.3
Camp 9.4
Sullivan 9.4
May 7.1
Reyes 6.7
Field 6.7
Wood 5.7
Gobble 1.0
Anderson -18.2

WHIP
Greinke 1.147
Field 1.315
Cerda 1.324
Camp 1.341
Gobble 1.373
Wood 1.396
May 1.481
Reyes 1.547
Sullivan 1.555
Affeldt 1.663
Anderson 1.720

BABIP
Greinke .257
Cerda .260
Field .260
Gobble .269
May .308
Wood .318
Camp .328
Reyes .335
Anderson .335
Affeldt .350
Sullivan .352

Comments: Of the starters only Greinke is pitching well with Reyes, May and Wood holding their own but suprisingly the relievers (Cerda, Field, Camp, Sullivan) have all pitched relatively well. The average on balls in play might indicate that Anderson has indeed been the recipient of bad luck (which seems to be reversing itself these last 2 starts) while Gobble and Greinke have had their share of luck.

Management
SB: 54/85
SAC: 27 (tied for fewest in the AL)
IBB: 25 (10th in the AL)

Comments: When you don't count Beltran the Royals are 40 of 68 in stolen bases (59%) which has certainly cost them a few runs. Pena has been bunting more of late but fortunately they still haven't bunted often and have not walked many batters intentionally.

Calvin Pickering in Omaha (AAA) is second in the PCL in Runs Above Replacement Position (RARP) and has a Major League Equivalent Average of .289 (.260 is average). In fact, his MLEQA is higher than anybody on the Royals roster. Sweeney is at .282, Harvey and Stairs at .272, and Randa at .255. This may be the first time in history that a team has a player in the minors who has actually outperformed every player on their major league roster. Pickering has more than earned the right to be playing in Kansas City.

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