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Thursday, April 14, 2005

At least the weather was nice

Small crowd. Beautiful day. Bad game. That pretty much sums up the afternoon at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals offensive doldrums continued. KC mananged two runs despite banging out 11 hits. The Royals managed one walk - which came from Angel Berroa, of all people. The Royals had a six-batter stretch in the first and second innings when they saw a total of eight Jamie Moyer pitches. While going after Moyer early in the count is a common strategy, that kind of aggressiveness might not be the best approach for this team right now.

There is some hope that things might change - but not a lot. Consider the following chart:

Through 4/14


















































































































The first three columns after the player names are batting average, on-base percentage and the difference between the two. The second three are the same measurements taken from the PROFITS projections. The final column show the net difference in O-A (on-base percentage minus batting average) which, for the purpose of this exercise, I'm calling PATIENCE.

In effect, I'm measuring the ways that batters reach base other than the base hit. Of course, this is mostly just the percentage of walks though hit-by-pitches are thrown in for good measure. A patient approach at the plate manifests itself in ways other than what is demonstrated here, but these figures will suffice for now.

Considering that the league average for on-base percentage in 2004 was .338, there is considerably more on-base potential for the Royals than we've seen so far. The Royals could field a lineup that projects to post above-average OBP at every position except for shortstop and catcher.

But right now, we're not discussing OBP. We're discussing patience. One way to view the chart is to suggest that the anxiousness should wear off. Mike Sweeney should begin taking a few more pitches and move towards his usual tepid level of selectiveness, you would hope. But don't forget that Sweeney had a steep decline in walks last season - it may just be his new way.

Calvin Pickering made his bones in the minors by being selective. He's pressing right now. It was a little surprising to see him in the lineup against Moyer and he looked lost all day, striking out three times and logging six swings-and-misses in four plate appearances. Big Pick tends to be a little streaky but you have to be concerned that his current streak will lead straight to Omaha. He looks very uncomfortable right now. We (stat types) all clamored for Pickering. Now we have him. Don't get me wrong - his playing time has been sporadic and I've far from given up on him. But there is always the possibility that Pick is a AAAA player. He'll be away from the team this weekend for the birth of his son. Hopefully, when he returns, he'll turn into the .926 OPS monster that I foresaw.

So there are a couple of spots where the Royals could improve in patience. But as things regress towards expectations (and the expectations are realistic) chances are that what we've seen so far is what we're going to get.

Two other points:

* This kind of start-to-start flakiness from Denny Bautista is likely to be the norm rather than the exception

* At some point, the Royals are going to have to consider Andy Sisco for a more prominent role.


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