It’s been a long time since we’ve counted down the days to the end of the season, but here we are, 37 more days of this misery before they can revert to 0-0 and we can know they’re terrible but without a record to show it. The question now is if they can get to 49 wins, which is only noteworthy because a replacement level team is expected to win 48. They need to finish 11-23, which seems easy enough but it’s a decent amount above the level they’ve played to this point, so it’s hard to think that’s especially likely. The best 34-game stretch the team has had all season was when they went 16-18 from the end of April to early June. If you were wondering, the worst is 5-29, which came from early June to mid-July. So anyway, yeah, not looking good, especially with 10 games left against the Indians to go along with three against the Pirates, who are at least decent.
- Ryan O’Hearn has done a really nice job at the plate for the Royals since he was recalled in late July even if he probably hasn’t played quite enough since coming to the big leagues. His power has been big enough that he has put himself in a position to be a key member of the DongTown City Council in 2019. And I’m really happy that he’s done this, but I still can’t help but wonder if the Royals made the wrong choice in choosing between he and Frank Schwindel. For my money, they probably should have just moved on from Lucas Duda once the deadline passed and called them both up, but I at least worry a bit about the message sent when they called up one guy who was so outperformed by another guy when the situations were identical as far as needing a spot on the 40-man for either of them. While seasonal age makes it seem like Schwindel is two years older than O’Hearn, he really isn’t. He’s about a year and a month older and their AAA numbers aren’t even comparable. O’Hearn hit .243/.324/.423 in 869 plate appearances while Schwindel had hit .303/.340/.517 in 907 plate appearances through Wednesday. I appreciate the Royals looking beyond the numbers, but I don’t think it’s a great look for them to choose O’Hearn over Schwindel. Like I said, I’m glad O’Hearn is producing and I think they should both be up, but even with his early success, I think Schwindel should have been the move from the start. That’s probably unpopular now that O’Hearn has shown so much power early, but it’s how I felt at the time and there’s no reason to change.
- Brandon Maurer is so damn frustrating. Since maybe the world’s most predictable blowup against the Tigers right after the break, he’s now pitched in 11 games, going one inning each time and allowing just one run on eight hits with 16 strikeouts and seven walks. The walks are still high, but he’s routinely hitting the upper 90s on the radar gun and has hit 100 at least a couple times that I’ve seen. This is exactly why he keeps getting chance after chance and why the Royals have been so hesitant to move on from him. That isn’t to say that I believe he’ll actually ever be consistent enough for it to matter, but it’s hard to watch him right now and think there isn’t a spot for him on a bad team next year as well. Which, well, that’s infuriating to me in a weird way. I guess it’s nice that he’s found himself, though I think we all wish that maybe he did either at this time last year after he was acquired or maybe before the deadline so he could be moved. Still, he’s a big time power arm and maybe if he can finish strong, the Royals can fool another team into giving him a shot in the offseason and recoup a little value for him.
- To give a little update on the Royals 2018 draft, I went and compiled the numbers and as a whole, I think there’s some definite statistical success so far. The pitchers have combined for 532.1 innings and struck out 595 while walking 208. That’s 10.1 strikeouts per nine and 3.5 walks. They’ve allowed just 27 home runs, which is kind of crazy. Of course, it’s worth mentioning that many of them are 21 and up in rookie ball, so they should be doing this. But of course, Daniel Lynch has been a revelation, now in Lexington, and Jackson Kowar has been outstanding his last two starts. On the whole, I’m satisfied, but need to something big out of Brady Singer when he finally pitches and I’d like to see Kris Bubic move up to get a couple starts in Low-A as well. On the offensive side, there isn’t the same success, but it’s not all bad. They’re hitting .278/.365/.410 with a 10.8 percent walk rate on the whole. Not much power here, obviously, but they’ve stolen 79 bases in 102 attempts, which is quality for hitters in their first tastes of pro ball. Like the pitchers, it’s quite a few older prospects in rookie ball, but the standout is obviously Kyle Isbel, who was hitting .335/.402/.522 across two levels through Wednesday. Something not often talked about with Isbel is that he has 24 steals in 29 attempts, so there’s some value there. Nathan Eaton is another guy doing very well, but it’s important to remember he’s 21 in rookie ball in a big time hitter’s park and league. Still, .350/.434/.568 will get you to at least take notice.
- This is more of a baseball in general point and I think this has stopped a bit, but success of players like J.D. Martinez has made it seem so simple just to completely change your approach at the plate and, if you have the physical tools, become a quality (or better) big league hitter. I was just thinking about when I read an article in The Athletic yesterday penned by Lars Anderson (subscribe here if you haven’t already, yes I get a gift card but you get a discount too) about how he went to the same coaches Martinez did and was released later that year. It’s just that there’s so much to hitting that I think those who have succeeded in completely altering their approach have somehow made it seem easy to do and you wonder why every player doesn’t. Look at a guy like Whit Merrifield. He’s changed his approach a couple times just in his short time in the big leagues. Last season it resulted in more home runs, while this season the home run power isn’t quite where it was before, but he’s walking a ton more. The Royals will welcome in the Indians this weekend and Yonder Alonso was a poster child for the launch angle revolution last season. He’s been fine this season, but after a really hot start last year, he’s become decent enough, but not great. His .165 ISO is right around league average, which is an improvement over before last year, but not elite or anything and a big reason why he didn’t get a mega contract even coming off a breakout year. Anyway, that’s my get off my lawn moment of the week.