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Thursday, March 07, 2019

Royals among few clubs banking on speed to win ballgames

SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Brett Phillips has always been the fastest player on his team, whether he was playing in Little League, starring at Seminole High School or climbing the rungs of the minor league ladder.

When he looks around the Kansas City Royals’ clubhouse, though, the fleet-footed outfielder was left to ask a very sobering and sincere question: “What am I, the 10th fastest now?”

Not quite. But just about.

You see, the Royals identified a market inefficiency a few years ago when it came to bullpen arms, stockpiling huge talents at low costs and effectively shortening games. The result was twofold: They won back-to-back American League pennants and the 2015 World Series, and every other team noticed what they had done and began to offer big contracts to premier relievers.

Some fair points, but a bit surprising that one that seems key (especially involving the rise and fall of the stolen base in post-WWII America) isn’t really brought up.


QLE Posted: March 07, 2019 at 04:31 AM | 18 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: royals, speed

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   1. I Am Not a Number Posted: March 07, 2019 at 07:22 AM (#5820909)
Winning with speed is just a euphemism for being cheap and not paying for power. Oh, and also for not actually winning.
   2. Sweatpants Posted: March 07, 2019 at 09:13 AM (#5820929)
The 2014 Royals finished last in the majors in home runs (only team under 100) and first in the majors in stolen bases. The 2015 Royals were 24th in homers (but only one of the teams below them was an AL club) and fifth in stolen bases.

I'm more taken aback by the idea that nobody had ever tried to build a dominant bullpen until 2014.
   3. winnipegwhip Posted: March 07, 2019 at 09:38 AM (#5820940)
Marketing Slogan

"2019 Royals - They Are So Fast They Blow Out Their Own Catcher's Arms"
   4. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: March 07, 2019 at 10:34 AM (#5820960)
I'm more taken aback by the idea that nobody had ever tried to build a dominant bullpen until 2014.

The 1989 A's rode their dominant innovative bullpen to a World Series win. Of course that only required 3 pitchers, not eleventy.
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 07, 2019 at 11:24 AM (#5820981)
The 1989 A's rode their dominant innovative bullpen to a World Series win. Of course that only required 3 pitchers, not eleventy.

And they lost to the Reds and their "Nasty Boys" pen the following year.
   6. Bote Man Posted: March 07, 2019 at 11:57 AM (#5820993)
Greenies are banned, steroids are banned, so...speed it is!!
   7. Man o' Schwar Posted: March 07, 2019 at 12:13 PM (#5820999)
Greenies are banned, steroids are banned, so...speed it is!!

They'll steal 400 bases this year, win 110 games, and then we'll have to spend next offseason talking about banning performance-enhancing shoe inserts. Lou Brock never needed Dr. Scholl's!
   8. Walt Davis Posted: March 07, 2019 at 04:05 PM (#5821079)
It wasn't so much a dominant bullpen as it was 3 dominant relievers in Holland, Davis and Herrera. In 2015 they added Madson.

It wasn't taking advantage of a market inefficiency either. Holland and Herrera were home-grown. Davis was acquired in trade as a starter -- he sucked again as a starter so they tried him in the bullpen (which the Rays also did with success in his last year. But even if you want to count that as a market inefficiency, it wasn't because he was on a buyout contract signed when everybody expected him to be a starter -- he was quite overpaid by reliever standards at the time. That leaves Madson who was a bargain at <$1 M but that's because he had pitched one inning of A+ ball from 2012-14. (One of baseball's miracle injury comebacks.)

(To be sure, Holland and Herrera were cheap but they weren't purchased in the market. It's not that other teams didn't value them, it's that other teams had no opportunity to purchase them. You could argue that the market inefficiency was buying relievers on the market rather than having your young guys turn into 150 ERA+ relievers ... but if that was the lesson, then we wouldn't have the big reliever salaries we have today.)
   9. bbmck Posted: March 07, 2019 at 04:17 PM (#5821082)
Since 1925 the recommended start point for CS, there are 734 team seasons of at least 100 SB, 9 have 0 CS so eliminating those, 80%+ success rate is since 1975 and the 1962 Dodgers, I'll assume the rest are reliable numbers. By the first google result for linear weights using 0.193 for a SB and -0.437 for a CS the most and least valuable 100+ SB seasons:

19.5 - 1993 Expos: Marquis Grissom 53/10, Delino DeShields 43/10, 94-68 missed playoffs
19.4 - 1962 Dodgers: Maury Wills 104/13, Willie Davis 32/7, 102-63 lost 3 game tie-breaker
18.7 - 1985 Cardinals: Vince Coleman 110/25, Willie McGee 56/16, 101-61 lost WS
18.5 - 2007 Mets: Jose Reyes 78/21, David Wright 34/5, Carlos Beltran 23/2, 88-74 missed playoffs
18.3 - 2007 Phillies: Jimmy Rollins 41/6, Shane Victorino 37/4, Michael Bourn 18/1, 89-73 lost NLDS

17.2 - 1988 Cardinals: Vince Coleman 81/27, Ozzie Smith 57/9, Willie McGee 41/6, 76-86 missed playoffs
16.9 - 1980 Royals: Willie Wilson 79/10, John Wathan 17/3, Amos Otis 16/1, 97-65 lost WS
16.7 - 1975 Reds: Joe Morgan 67/10, Dave Concepcion 33/6, 108-54 won WS
16.5 - 1986 Cardinals: Vince Coleman 107/14, Ozzie Smith 31/7, 79-82 missed playoffs
16.4 - 1987 Cardinals: Vince Coleman 109/22, Ozzie Smith 43/9, 95-67 lost WS

-25.9 - 1925 Reds: Babe Pinelli 8/19, Edd Roush 22/20, 80-73 missed playoffs
-23.3 - 1978 Athletics: Mike Edwards 27/21, Mitchell Page 23/19, 69-93 missed playoffs
-23.1 - 1977 Cardinals: Garry Templeton 28/24, Tony Scott 13/10, 83-79 missed playoffs
-18.4 - 1975 Indians: Duane Kuiper 19/18, Frank Duffy 10/10, 79-80 missed playoffs
-18.1 - 1987 Giants: Will Clark 5/17, Eddie Milner 10/9, Candy Maldonado 8/8, 90-72 lost NLCS

-17.3 - 1986 Rangers: Scott Fletcher 12/11, Steve Buechele 5/8, Ruben Sierra 7/8, 87-75 missed playoffs
-16.7 - 1926 Senators: Sam Rice 24/23, Buddy Myer 10/11, 81-69 missed playoffs
-14.3 - 1978 Mets: Elliott Maddox 2/11, Lenny Randle 14/11, 66-96 missed playoffs
-14.1 - 1925 Senators: Earl McNeely 15/16, Ossie Bluege 16/15, Joe Judge 7/12, 96-55 lost WS
-14.0 - 1993 Brewers: BJ Surhoff 12/9, Bill Spiers 9/8, Greg Vaughn 10/7, 69-93 missed playoffs

There hasn't been a -10 or lower since 1993 when MIL, KCR, COL and CAL all did it. 1993 also has four more -5 or lower: TEX, DET, HOU and SFG since then 1997 ANA, 1998 TBD, 1999 DET, 2002 MON, 2013 HOU and 2014 TEX. Since the race to the 2007 NL East Title 10+:

2008: PHI 15.3, COL 11, NYM 10.9
2009: TEX 13, TBR 10.8, PHI 10.7
2010: OAK 13.5, TBR 12.7, PHI 11.7, SEA 10.4
2011: SDP 13.6
2012: MIL 13.5, PHI 12.3, LAA 11.4, MIA 10.8

2013: KCR 15.5, BOS 15.4
2014: KCR 13.8, NYY 10.3
2015: none, 3rd KCR 5.2
2016: ARI 12.9, CLE 12.3, MIL 10.5, 4th KCR 8.1
2017: none, KCR 91/31 4.0 is lower than 6 of 7 teams with 100+ SB
2018: BOS 10.6, CLE 10.3, 5th KCR 6.0
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 07, 2019 at 04:33 PM (#5821088)
They're gonna suck no matter what, at least steals will be exciting. Merrifield/Mondesi/Hamilton are each capable of stealing 40-50 bags each, and it sounds like they are serious about starting the year with Terrance Gore on the team. Could be fun even if they struggle to score runs.
   11. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 07, 2019 at 04:47 PM (#5821094)
Could be fun even if they struggle to score runs.
"This year our goal is to strand more runners on second than on first."
   12. Zach Posted: March 07, 2019 at 08:21 PM (#5821146)
If you're going to be short on talent, you might as well have a distinctive style.

Like Retro, I don't expect great things in the wins column. But bad and entertaining will be a distinct step up.
   13. Walt Davis Posted: March 08, 2019 at 10:35 PM (#5821449)
Let's not get too carried away with "entertaining." Mondesi and Hamilton might well hit 220.
   14. Howie Menckel Posted: March 09, 2019 at 12:39 AM (#5821457)
"1987 Giants: Will Clark 5/17"

yes, that is 5 SB - and CS the other 17 tries.

when I was in Senior League, around age 12, we had a drunk of a manager who, possibly, had 'connections'. we would show up at the field for practice on a Saturday around 8 am, and he would be asleep on one of the benches, with a full contingent of Budweiser cans below that - at our age - we assumed were there when he arrived just minutes before us.

I have mentioned in other threads that while my twin and I looked (and look) nothing alike, this was the singular person in our upbringing who got us confused.

I was a scrappy little LHB on-base machine of Bonds/Ruth proportions of BB (very few LHB back then and nearly 100 pct RHP; they struggled to find the plate even against a regular-sized LHB strike zone). Twin was a taller RHB with a big loop in his swing. but the thing was, he could FLY - serious wheels. he also could dunk by the time he reached 5-10 in college; I couldn't even touch the rim at two inches taller by then.

on the fairly rare occasions twin got on base, he was met by the "stop sign" from the addled manager who also served as 3B coach. but when I got on (like, 75 pct of the time thanks to the above advantages, incorporating some scrappy singles into the mix), I got the "GO" signal every. single. time.

it was a bit exhausting, and with mixed results. basically a solid throw would get me, otherwise I'd get the base. it never occurred to us to ask the MGR why he chose these strategies.

I wonder now if Will Clark was standing on 1B in 1987 (after having gone 4 for 11 in 1986 on SB tries) like I was, thinking, 'Damn, another GO sign? what the hell?'


P.S. Clark went 25 for 31 over the next 3 seasons, oddly enough - and all with the same manager, Roger Craig. I wonder if anyone ever asked Clark about this.

   15. bobm Posted: March 09, 2019 at 01:09 PM (#5821521)
In 1987, Clark broke for the next bag 22 times. Only five times did he successfully make it. (In his defense, Clark explains that it was partly a managerial thing. "We had Roger Craig as our manager and we did a ton of hit-and-runs," says Clark. "I mean, he'd hit-and-run with anybody, and he said, 'If I put a hit-and-run on, whatever you do, don't get picked off.' So you rarely got a good lead.")

SI: Art of the Steal By CHRIS BALLARD September 10, 2008
   16. A triple short of the cycle Posted: March 09, 2019 at 01:13 PM (#5821524)
Lou Brock never needed Dr. Scholl's!

It was around 1990 when I was an undergrad at UConn. One weekend my buddy and I drove down to Willimantic to some thrift store. I found these low-top Converse All-Stars, brand new, bright yellow - but they weren't Chuck Taylor All-Stars, they were commemorative Lou Brock All-Stars, with "Lou Brock 118" on the heel! I couldn't believe my find, except they were too large for me and fit my friend perfectly. So he got them.
   17. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: March 09, 2019 at 01:18 PM (#5821526)
when I was in Senior League, around age 12, we had a drunk of a manager who, possibly, had 'connections'. we would show up at the field for practice on a Saturday around 8 am,
If you’re a drunk who schedules 8 am Saturday practices, you’re not doing it right.
   18. bobm Posted: March 09, 2019 at 03:01 PM (#5821544)

According to the books Baseball Between the Numbers and Extra Innings: More Baseball Between the Numbers Roger Craig's 1987 was statistically among the top 5 worst managerial seasons by strategic decisions during 1950-2011 (with 1986 among the top 10).

Particularly notable was his poor use of the running game, possibly the worst ever in 1987 by a manager per these books, with his SB decisions said to account for 3.5 of the 5.3 wins that Craig's strategic decisions were figured to have cost the 1987 Giants.

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