Update on the Royals 2014 Draft Class

Rnd Name Pos Drafted Out of Level(s) YTD
1 Brandon Finnegan LHP Texas Christian University (Fort Worth TX) A+/AA 0.79 ERA 7.5 K/9 1.2 B/9
1 Foster Griffin LHP The First Academy (Orlando FL) Low-Rk 4.26 ERA 6.2 K/9 5.7 B/9
1 Chase Vallot C St. Thomas More HS (Lafayette LA) Low-Rk .227/.328/.436 7 HR 67/22 K/B
2 Scott Blewett RHP Baker HS (Baldwinsville NY) Low-Rk 5.50 ERA 11.5 K/9 5 B/9
3 Eric Skoglund LHP University of Central Florida (Orlando FL) Adv-Rk 5.09 ERA 9.8 K/9 3.5 B/9
4 D.J. Burt SS Fuquay-Varina HS (Fuquay-Varina NC) Low-Rk .219/.308/.281 2 HR 18/12 K/B
5 Corey Ray RHP Texas A&M University (College Station TX) Low-Rk 3.34 ERA 6.7 K/9 2.1 B/9
6 Logan Moon OF Missouri Southern State University (Joplin MO) Low-Rk .316/.346/.429 2 HR 33/9 K/B
7 Brandon Downes CF University of Virginia (Charlottesville VA) Adv-Rk .345/.394/.538 3 HR 27/7 K/B
8 Ryan O’Hearn 1B Sam Houston State University (Huntsville TX) Adv-Rk .379/.457/.611 10 HR 46/30 K/B
9 Brandon Thomasson OF Tennessee Technological University (Cookeville TN) Adv-Rk .250/.282/.380 1 HR 27/6 K/B
10 Nick Green LHP University of Utah (Salt Lake City UT) Adv-Rk 4.38 ERA 8.8 K/9 0.7 B/9
11 Robert Pehl OF University of Washington (Seattle WA) Adv-Rk .358/.424/.487 3 HR 29/19 K/B
12 Emilio Ogando LHP St. Thomas University (Miami Gardens FL) Adv-Rk 0.92 ERA 5.9 K/9 4.6 B/9
13 Eric Stout LHP Butler University (Indianapolis IN) Adv-Rk 4.09 ERA 8.2 K/9 2.9 B/9
14 Ian Tompkins LHP Western Kentucky University (Bowling Green KY) Low-Rk 2.61 ERA 9.6 K/9 11.3 B/9
15 Corey Toups SS Sam Houston State University (Huntsville TX) Adv-Rk .304/.442/.466 2 HR 32/38 K/B
16 Manny Olloque (minors) 3B Torrance HS (Torrance CA) Low-Rk .317/.343/.413 0 HR 4/1 K/B
17 Brennan Henry LHP Bellevue University (Bellevue NE) Low-Rk 4.35 ERA 7.8 K/9 7.8 B/9
18 Alberto Rodriguez RHP Northwest Florida State College (Niceville FL) Adv-Rk 6.10 ERA 3.5 K/9 11.3 B/9
19 Scott Heineman OF University of Oregon (Eugene OR) DNS; returns to Oregon
20 Kyle Pollock C University of Evansville (Evansville IN) Adv-Rk .292/.353/.400 2 HR 11/12 K/B
21 Evan Beal RHP University of South Carolina (Columbia SC) Low-Rk 7.04 ERA 5.9 K/9 3.5 B/9
22 Mike Hill SS California State University Long Beach (Long Beach CA) Adv-Rk .284/.333/.411 2 HR 36/15 K/B
23 Eric Sandness RHP San Joaquin Delta College (Stockton CA) Low-Rk 6.75 ERA 8.7 K/9 8.7 B/9
24 Brandon Thomas LHP San Diego State University (San Diego CA) Adv-Rk 3.86 ERA 9.3 K/9 5.4 B/9
25 Rudy Martin OF Lewisburg HS (Olive Branch MS) DNS; goes to Tex Tech
26 Michael Arroyo C Puerto Rico Baseball Academy (Gurabo PR) DNS
27 Alex Close C Liberty University (Lynchburg VA) DNS; returns to Liberty
28 Joshua Banuelos 1B Fresno Pacific University (Fresno CA) Low-Rk .290/.358/.395 2 HR 17/10 K/B
29 Vance Vizcaino 3B Glendale Community College (Glendale AZ) DNS; goes to Indy Ball?
30 Ryan Lillard (minors) 3B Urbandale HS (Urbandale IA) DNS; goes to ASU
31 Rocky McCord RHP Auburn University (Auburn AL) DNS; returns to Auburn
32 Timothy Hill LHP Bacone College (Muskogee OK) A-Rk/A 1.56 ERA 12.5 K/9 3.1 B/9
33 DonAndre Clark OF St. Mary’s College of California (Moraga CA) Adv-Rk .257/.325/.295 0 HR 28/18 K/B
34 Todd Eaton RHP Southern Illinois University Carbondale (Carbondale IL) Low-Rk 3.27 ERA 9 K/9 4.1 B/9
35 Andrew Sykes LHP Valparaiso HS (Valparaiso IN) DNS; goes to Heartland CC
36 Brandon Gonzalez OF Villa Park HS (Villa Park CA) DNS
37 David Noworyta C Holy Cross HS (Delran NJ) DNS; goes to Hawaii
38 Cole Way LHP University of Tulsa (Tulsa OK) Low-RK 2.35 ERA 7 K/9 2.3 B/9
39 Jeff Hendrix OF Oregon State University (Corvallis OR) DNS; returns to OSU
40 Diego Francisco 2B Palm Beach Central HS (Wellington FL) DNS

 

Hitting you right out of the gate with a big ol’ spreadsheet. Nothing too crazy in today’s article. Just a review of the 2014 draftees and some highlights. I’ll let you peruse the list yourself and point out any observations or comments you’ve got.

– Brandon Finnegan has been excellent. I wasn’t super high on him and placed him 30th overall on my Top-50 pre-draft board, but he’s been worthy of the top-10 consideration he got pre-injury. A decent bet to see major league action this year from the bullpen. My guess is he won’t be there long term. He’s received some left-handed Marcus Stroman comps…which is nice.

– Chase Vallot has hit 7 home runs as a 17 year old while being 3 years younger than the average competition. The big slugger has shown his rawness in the contact department and chasing pitches, but has an 11.5% BB%.

–  Ryan O’Hearn has been crushing the Pioneer League since his debut. The bat always had some good power and he showed excellent strike zone skills at Sam Houston. Is on his way to becoming a guy and is currently on the watch list. Will get some top 20 love from me in the offseason I’d bet.

– Corey Toups has walked 6 more times than he’s struck out as well as hit for strong power. Sam Houston teammates with Ryan O’Hearn. Like O’Hearn, Toups is a guy to watch. He’s played SS for Idaho Falls so far, but a move to 2B is likely on the horizon.

– Timothy Hill has struck out a batter in every appearance except for two games including 6 outings of 2 or more strikeouts and a 2 inning outing where he struck out 5 batters.

– Cole Way has been profiled by FanGraphs but in case you missed it, he’s a tall reliever and might be the tallest player in all of baseball. Rather than playing baseball in college, he was the punter for the football team. He then picked up a baseball for the first time in years after being drafted. That might be an exaggeration, but he certainly didn’t focus on baseball.

Royals Top 20 Midseason Prospects and MiLB Top 50

These lists are always supremely subjective, so if my opinion doesn’t match yours then suck it. I’m joking of course, but despite how you feel about a player or his ranking on a list, you’ve always got to remember most lists are 40% objectivity and 60% subjectivity (that’s my subjective opinion on subjectivity).

Byron Buxton is an elite prospect, and every major prospect outlet named him #1 overall on their Top 100 lists last year, but that doesn’t mean he has to be YOUR #1 prospect. While it’s likely unreasonable to not place him in Top 10 (objectivity) it’s probably reasonable to not make him the default #1 (subjectivity).

For me when it comes to ranking prospects I generally side with tools over results unless the results are atrocious then you’ve got to move the player down a bit as long as the tools haven’t changed. Tools should generally drive results, and if a raw 70-grade power tool hitter has hit only 10 home runs over two seasons then you’ve gotta question if the 70 raw power is there or if it’ll ever be game power.

Overall system remarks:

I think this is still a very strong system and perhaps Top 10. It was ranked 7th best by Baseball Prospectus last year. While Ventura has graduated, arguably the top prospect in the group, other prospects have stepped up and other organizations have graduated players. Boston is probably going to rank lower due to Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr, and Mookie Betts all getting called up. That’s not a bad thing because creating successful major league players is the point of prospects, but some people get hung up on farm rankings.

Going into this season we knew most of the talent would be at the lower levels. A strong “prospect” rotation in Wilmington was the core of the list. There are some hitters in AA, but the bulk of the high end prospects are still in the lower minors. That’s no fault of their own either because they are all young, but most are a few years away from making the big league team.

Pitching was once the strongest part of this farm system and I think that’s remained the same. Recent draftees and good performances have continued to narrate that story.

Power is still missing for the most part in the system.

1. Kyle Zimmer – SP DNP (so far)

Still the best prospect in this organization if you ask me, and you kinda are by reading this article no? Delivery is still smooth and effortless, he’s got great athleticism and the arsenal is still outstanding. One wonders though how he’ll perform if/when he gets back on the mound.

The constant injuries are a downgrade a bit. He was touted as being a “fresh” arm coming out of college. He had little mileage on the arm and that could be a double edged sword. Arm doesn’t have any damage on it initially, but because his arm isn’t used to throwing a lot then it’s taking some time to develop.

If Zimmer can get/stay healthy, which is questionable right now, then he’s one of the best pitching prospects in the minors and has the upside of a strong #2 starter.

Hard to guess where he ranks on the end of year lists, but those that go on upside (like Baseball Prospectus) then he could stay in the Top 30. If he sees in game action and is as good as his pre-injury self then he could be Top 20.

2. Raul Mondesi – SS  Wilmington .219/.266/.305 60 wRC+/85 wOBA+

The triple slash line is ugly at the face of it, but the park he plays in and his age puts a little makeup on it. He’s the youngest player in all of A+ and despite the hitting woes the speed and fielding are still excellent. Rich Wilson at Prospect361 had a good brief on his season so far:

It’s easy to dismiss Raul Mondesi’s 2014 stat line and label him a good, but not great prospect. Don’t let the .243 batting average fool you. He’s got great tools including excellent bat speed with natural bat-to-ball skills and is only 18 years-old while playing in High-A.

3. Hunter Dozier – 3B Wilmington/Northwest Arkansas .295/.397/.429 134 wRC+/119 wOBA+

Promoted to AA recently, Dozier has been basically as touted. Strong plate discipline skills (13.1 BB%/.397 OBP), ability to hit for average (.295 average), line drive swing (20% LD%), and 60 raw power (18 doubles, 4 home runs). You’d like to see more home runs no doubt and perhaps his home park in Wilmington was the cause.

Dozier will finish out 2014 in AA with an eye on the majors perhaps mid-season 2015. If he were to reach the majors in 2015 he could be the first non-reliever from the 2013 class to debut.

4. Sean Manaea – SP Wilmington 11.77 K/9 4.37 B/9 4.83 ERA 3.67 FIP

Solid debut for Manaea this year and reports on his stuff have been very positive. Fastball velocity hasn’t been at Cape Cod levels, but sitting 93-95 and touching 97. Slider is thrown from exact same arm slot as fastball and has really good bite to it coupled with low to mid 80’s speed. Changeup is behind the other two pitches, average pitch, but the plus-fastball helps it play up when he throws it from the same arm angle.

Manaea was really good deception. Holds the ball long and can repeat pitches from the same arm angle to further that.

The command profile hasn’t been as advertised and he’s walked too many batters, but the strikeouts have been there.

Manaea is 3rd in all of minor league baseball in K/9. I’m wondering if he’ll get a shot at AA this year, getting him out of a pitcher friendly Wilmington, at some point much like Zimmer did last year.

5. Miguel Almonte – SP Wilmington 8.46 K/9 2.55 B/9 4.17 ERA 4.12 FIP

Tough year for Almonte and he’s done it at Wilmington. Fastball has been faster this year than I remember it being. He’s flashed 96 with it and sat 93ish. Doesn’t have the same run as Manaea’s, but he’s got good control with it. Changeup is still his best pitch for me, but he’ll need to keep throwing it to gain more command than it has now.

I think the command results have been a little better than the actual profile, but that’s a good thing and could help re-evaluate it as he continues to move up the organizational ladder.

Almonte has slowly been moving the needle from 5th starter to possible #3 starter each year.

6. Cheslor Cuthbert – 3B Northwest Arkansas .273/.339/.415 117 wRC+/ 105 wOBA+

I’ve never been a huge fan of Cuthbert. He’s always been touted as being a plus-raw power guy, but it’s never really reared it’s head in game action and defensively he’s been sloppy. This is why you have to keep re-evaluating players because they can look different one season to the next and begin to hone in on their projected tools.

Cuthbert is a home run away from a career high, and he’s right around his career high in slugging too. It’s encouraging to see a young guy like Cuthbert turn it on in AA. This is his second time in NWA so you expect him to be better than the first time, but he’s back on my radar a bit.

Next we need to talk about the defense. I’ve always thought he was choppy and didn’t have good coordination at third with fringy range and an average arm. When they moved him off third base to first I was happy, but then you had to question if the bat will play at first. Now the Royals are going to give him some time at second, which if somehow he can survive defensively there then he could be a solid player, but it’s gonna be a long road defensively I feel.

7. Jorge Bonifacio – OF Northwest Arkansas .225/.299/.331 83 wRC+/ 92 wOBA+

One of my favorite guys in the system, Bonifacio is a pure hitter at his heart but always flashed the strong hit tool a little more than power. This season so far he’s struggled to flash either in his second and extended stay in NWA. Was hoping to see him move higher on the list from last year where I ranked him fifth, but he’s betrayed me and moved down. Still has the tools to be an everyday right fielder who can get on base and hit for .280+, but the question was always on the power and he hasn’t answered those questions so far this year.

8. Brandon Finnegan – SP DNP

Placeholder grade, and could be as high as fifth perhaps at the end of season depending on how his debut goes in a few weeks. He arrived in Wilmington on Monday and will get some side work in before he makes his first start sometime in mid-July. The height isn’t an issue and the health concerns may have been overblown as he was great down the stretch for TCU in the College World Series. I think the fastball/slider combo plays well for him and he’s got great deception.

I didn’t rank Manaea on last years list, but I feel comfortable putting Finnegan here for now since I’ve seen him a couple times.

9. Christian Binford – SP Wilmington 10.02 K/9 1.20 B/9 2.40 ERA 2.20 FIP

Guy has put up video game numbers this year. Last I checked he had something like 34 straight innings without allowing a walk.

Elite command profile is there, but I’m not sold on the fastball as he gets higher up the affiliate list.

Recently promoted to AA. If he performs well at AA he moves up higher, but given his age and profile, a poor performance won’t knock him down.

10. Bubba Starling – OF Wilmington .203/.287/.326 74 wRC+/92 wOBA+

Okay, I’m finally almost kinda about to give up on Starling. Just when I think I’m out, he can sometimes pull me back in.

If you can believe it, this’ll likely be his first season with a sub-100 wRC+. I don’t totally credit that to Wilmington, but a nearly 20% difference between his wRC+ and wOBA+ is interesting.

He’s a guy who’s going to always flash his potential for small stretches then slump for a time. He had that 15 game hit streak where it felt like he was starting to come around, then followed it up with a 2-26 stretch, then a week or two later he’ll have a 10 game stretch where he hits .300+.

He’s shown a pretty sizable platoon split as he’s hit .288/.372/.562 against lefties but just .174/.257/.248 against righties. That could be…something?

Defense and speed are still easy plus or double plus tools and the raw power can be displayed when he turns on one, but his potential neurological recognition issues are holding things back severely.

He stills make my list because I could see him being a two win player in the majors one day given his speed/defense.

11. Chase Vallot – C Burlington .275/.348/.550 147 wRC+

Hard to grade recent draftees. Vallot is raw, but his tools warrant a spot in the Top 10-15 right now. He’s hit for the power we should expect from him so far in Burlington as he’s hit two home runs in 11 games with five doubles.

Power is weak right now in the system and Vallot could be an answer if he develops. Questions about him sticking behind the plate are there and maybe the Royals move him off catcher so he can develop his bat. Maybe he could be a heavier/slower Wil Myers one day if that isn’t too cliche of a result. Wheels aren’t impressive but the arm is strong.

He’s only 17 and won’t be 18 till near seasons end.

He’s probably number one on my list for guys who could move up this list a lot come this time next year where we’ll have basically a full season of numbers to look at.

12. Dominique Taylor – OF Lexington .305/.338/.469 121 wRC+/107 wOBA+

Interesting and fun guy to watch. All out effort, speed, and has some pop in his bat. So far he’s hit pretty well at every level. Makes good contact and could play centerfield in the pros. He’s not a big burly guy, but he has some power in his bat. Needs to work on his plate discipline and take some walks as a student at the Sal Perez School of Plate Discipline, but doesn’t really strike out much with his bat-to-ball skills.

13. Elier Hernandez – OF Lexington .224/.270/.371 76 wRC+/ 88 wOBA+

Rough go for the 19 year old in his first appearance in full season ball. Still has a lot of tools to like and needs to stay healthy and play to bring them out. Probably three years away at least, but could be something to look forward to.

14. Ramon Torres – 2B Lexington .304/.346/.428 116 wRC+/105 wOBA+

I couldn’t let Torres fall any farther. He’s hit well at really every level, but he’s been a slow developer and is 21 in Lexington. Recently switched from shortstop to more time at second and still has work to do with the glove at either side of second base.

He’s has a sleeper profile, but needs to start waking up higher on the ladder.

15. Foster Griffin – SP Burlington 6 K/9 3 B/9 0.00 ERA 3.32 FIP (3 innings pitched)

Royals 28th overall selection in this years draft. Hard to put on a list given his little results and doesn’t have an amazing arsenal. Hoping he puts on some arm strength and can sit low-90’s rather than high-80’s. He’s able to touch 94, but it would be nice to see him gain a mile or two. Changeup is nice, but curveball needs reps and work.

16. Jason Adam – SP Northwest Arkansas 8.11 K/9 2.77 B/9 5.87 ERA 3.73 FIP

The theme continues with Adam. Good strikeout to walk ratios, but just gets hit hard and often. The FIP is better than the ERA by nearly two runs, but hitters are hitting .286 off of him. He’s repeating AA and has been possibly worse this go round. Getting tougher to see him in a major league rotation.

17. Marten Gasparini – SS .273/.333/.333 96 wRC+

Easy to get excited about this guy given his history and mystique around him, but if we see him on the Royals by 2018 then that’ll probably be a surprise. Super raw and has work to do with the bat. The glove and speed are excellent. If he can end up hitting then maybe he could replace Alcides Escobar after his 2017 option runs out.

18. Scott Blewett – SP DNP

Interesting pitching prospect. Like his big frame, but I generally want to see more velocity from a guy his size. He had it in starts this year but tapered off down the stretch.

19. Samir Duenez – 1B/OF Lexington/Idaho Falls .232/.268/.324 64 wRC+/83 wOBA+

Really tough start in his first full season. So poor that they made him mark time in Lexington until Idaho Falls started play and then sent him down there.

Really solid last year in the AZL league as a 17 year old and had higher hopes for him this year. Raw, but the hit tool is better than he’s shown this year.

Reports on him were solid coming out of the backfields this spring. Could be a guy two or three years from now in the Top 10, but not happening this year and maybe not next year either.

Was the youngest player in the Sally League this year.

20. Sam Selman – SP 7.88 K/9 4.88 B/9 4.00 ERA 4.43 FIP

Kind of a mercy killing here. Never had huge hope in Selman and I made a mistake last year placing him at #8 after seeing flashes on back of rotation potential. As a bullpen arm he could be a fringe Top-10 guy, but as a starter it isn’t ever going to happen for him given the control profile. Still a “prospect” and could spend time in a major league pen, but to me that would be his ceiling now.

Guys who fell off:

Zane Evans – C Wilmington .237/.304/.329 81 wRC+/100 wOBA+

Maybe it’s Wilmington, but I liked what I saw from Evans last year in Idaho Falls, but this year he’s a different player. Lots of ground outs it seems and he’s hacking more than I’d like to see.

Alexis Rivera – OF Idaho Falls .222/.255/.333 56 wRC+

Liked what I saw from his 18 year old self in 2012, and for the most part in 2013 as he moved up to Idaho Falls, but has fallen flat this year in what is his third season in a Rookie League.

Daniel Rockett – OF Wilmington .221/.278/.313 66 wRC+/86 wOBA+

Rockett is one of those guys you like what you see in his pro debut and take a flier on hoping he can somehow continue those results higher up. He hasn’t done that. I had him ranked 19th last year so not a large fall, but he did a little bit of everything in Idaho Falls last year; power, average, and played good defense.

Unfortunately he’s met the monster that is Frawley Stadium. K/B profile is basically the exact same and hasn’t had any luck in the BABIP department.

Cody Stubbs – 1B Wilmington .208/.281/.387 86 wRC+/90 wOBA+

Like Rockett, Stubbs was a bit of a flier. Came from an elite college school in UNC where he hit well his junior year, and like basically every hitter in Wilmington has been poor.

MiLB Mid-Season Top 50

1. Kris Bryant (CHC, 3B)

2. Oscar Taveras (Stl, OF)

3. Byron Buxton (Min, OF)

4. Carlos Correa (Hou, SS)

5. Dylan Bundy (Bal, RHP)

6. Lucas Giolito (Was, RHP)

7. Javier Baez (CHC, SS)

8. Addison Russell (Oak, SS)

9. Jonathan Gray (Col, RHP)

10. Francisco Lindor (Cle, SS)

11. Noah Syndergaard (NYM, RHP)

12. Taijuan Walker (Sea, RHP)

13. Hunter Harvey (Bal, RHP)

14. Miguel Sano (Min, 3B)

15. Corey Seager (LAD, SS)

16. Albert Almora (CHC, OF)

17. Robert Stephenson (Cin, RHP)

18. Joc Pederson (LAD, OF)

19. Archie Bradley (Ari, RHP)

20. Brady Aiken (Hou, LHP)

21. Joey Gallo (Tex, 3B)

22. Julio Urias (LAD, LHP)

23. Tyler Glasnow (Pit, RHP)

24. Clint Frazier (Cle, OF)

25. Jorge Alfaro (Tex, C)

26 Kyle Zimmer (KC, RHP)

27.  Jameson Taillon (Pit, RHP)

28. Henry Owens (Bos, LHP)

29. Carlos Rodon (CWS, LHP)

30. Alex Jackson (Sea, C)

31. David Dahl (Col, OF)

32.  Raimel Tapia (Col, OF)

33. J.P Crawford (Phil, SS)

34. Raul Mondesi (KC, SS)

35. Kohl Stewart (Min, RHP)

36. Jose Berrios (Min, RHP)

37. Austin Meadows (Pit, OF)

38. Alex Meyer (Min, RHP)

39. Jorge Soler (CHC, OF)

40. Sean Manaea (KC, LHP)

41. Arismendy Alcantara (CHC, 2B)

42. Austin Hedges (SD, C)

43. Jesse Winker (Cin, OF)

44. Hunter Dozier (KC, 3B)

45. Matthew Wisler (SD, RHP)

46. Dan Norris (Tor, LHP)

47. Braden Shipley (Ari, RHP)

48. Stephen Piscotty (Stl, OF)

49. Blake Swihart (Bos, C)

50. Aaron Sanchez (Tor, RHP)

 I’m missing someone and I know it. I deleted a name to move them to a differen spot then looked away and forgot who it was, and the fun thing was it was #25…

Royals Pitchers and Home Runs: The Good, the Okay, and the Ugly

While drinking my morning coffee and looking at the market news I generally always get distracted by baseball. This isn’t a bad thing, but at times it can be. Not because it’s baseball, but because the distractions can sometimes be unpleasant things. On the other hand though an unpleasant distraction, like the one I’ll soon tell you about, has led me to write this article. That could be a pleasant or unpleasant distraction to you though… I apologize if it is unpleasant.

This should be a brief article without super intensive data, but there will be some visualizations and then self-interpreting what this data does or doesn’t mean. You have some homework here.

First we’ll present the Royals pitching rotation, specifically those who qualify for the ERA crown, and their HR/9 and HR/FB% with their league ranking.

Yordano Ventura 0.70 HR/9 (33rd) 9.4 HR/FB% (49th)

Jason Vargas 0.99 HR/9 (60th) 9.3 HR/FB% (46th)

James Shields 1.11 HR/9 (76th) 12.0 HR/FB% (70th)

Jeremy Guthrie 1.29 HR/9 (90th) 11.1 HR/FB% (65th)

Some differences are there. Ventura is better than league average in home runs per 9 (nearly in the first quartile), but average when it comes to home runs as a percentage of his fly balls.

Jason Vargas is the opposite of Ventura almost. Below average (between second and third quartile) in home runs per 9, but better (between first and second quartile but leaning second) as a percentage of fly balls.

Shields below average in both metrics.

Guthrie is in the fourth quartile and bottom 10 of pitchers in HR/9, but as a percentage of fly balls he’s closer to the average pack yet still below average.

I think I’d categorize it as Ventura is doing a good job on home runs (front half on both metrics), Vargas is doing okay, Shields borderline on ugly, and Guthrie is ugly.

Now for the visuals.

Ventura:

Ventura

Ventura’s not getting beat on cheap home runs. All of the home runs he’s allowed have been basically in the strike zone.

The middle most edged fastball was against Carlos Corporan, a switch hitter batting lefty, so it was an inside pitch.

The lower edged fastball came against lefty Justin Smoak; another inside pitch.

The lower edged curveball was against Yasmani Grandal, another switch hitter batting lefty, and was an inside pitch.

The other home runs?

Changeup – Dustin Ackley: lefty

High fastball – Nelson Cruz: righty

High curveball – Tyler Flowers: righty

So predominately most of Ventura’s home runs have been against left handed hitters or switch hitters batting left handed, which as a right handed pitcher makes some sense.

Shields:

Shields

Shields has been very democratic with his home run pitches.

Four given up on change ups.

Four given up on cutters.

Four given up on four/two seamers.

Vargas:

Vargas

Looks like Vargas is giving up the long ball on the upper half of the zone.

The two edge fastballs homers were from Josmil Pinto and Jose Bautista, both right handers (outside pitches).

The high fastball was also to Jose Bautista and was borderline middle-up to inside-up and was classified as Zone 2 (middle-up). Bautista crushes this pitch.

Guthrie:

Guthrie

Guthrie just getting crushed everywhere on every pitch.

The out of the zone change up was and outside pitch to lefty Jason Castro that he chipped into the extended left field porch at Minute Maid.

The sinker out of the zone was an inside pitch to JD Martinez, a right handed hitter.

The low curveball was to Ackley, a left handed hitter, which he golfed into the right field stands at Safeco. It was a 1-1 count and this wasn’t a good ball to swing at theoretically, but Ackley has a sweet swing (if you ask me) and got under it.

The Royals are 12th in HR/9 (as in lower HR/9) and 7th in HR/FB%.

Okay, remember when I said this should be a brief article without super intensive data? I kinda lied. The data won’t be that super intensive nor the article brief, but it’s not-not brief and not-not data intensive.

I really like xFIP as a metric as well so as long as we are talking home run rates that’s something to bring up.

Ventura: FIP – 3.30 xFIP – 3.37

Shields: FIP – 3.89 xFIP – 3.63

Vargas: FIP – 4.01 xFIP – 4.11

Guthrie: FIP – 4.76 xFIP – 4.57

Ventura and Vargas’ home run rate isn’t hurting or helping their FIP much compared to a league average one. Shields and Guthrie are being hit a little harder by home runs than a league average counterpart.

I was initially thinking that perhaps Kauffman Stadium is suppressing some home runs for the pitching staff as opposed to a league standard, but the starting rotations FIP is 4.06 and xFIP is 4.09. I expected the spread to be a bit larger.

Of course their is a metric to include park factors into pitching peripherals; SIERA. As above I was expecting SIERA to correct any home run differences between FIP and xFIP when it comes to Kauffman. The rotations SIERA: 4.07. Interesting. Of course SIERA isn’t just FIP with park factors included, but it has a higher prediction value and mixes ERA/FIP when it comes to strikeouts, walks, and batted balls, but I was thinking there would be a larger difference between FIP and SIERA.

So how about just straight park adjusted FIP, FIP-? 103

Park adjusted xFIP, xFIP-? 106

So there you go. Given park neutralized league average home run rates, the Royals are 6% worse than league average. Historically they’ve hovered around that level the past few years.

2013: 104 xFIP-

2012: 111 xFIP-

2011: 108 xFIP-

2010: 106 xFIP-

One interesting thing I’ve found in the data diving is the difference between ERA- and FIP- over the years.

2014: ERA- 93 FIP- 103

2013: ERA- 95 FIP- 102

2012: ERA- 120 FIP- 109

2011: ERA- 116 FIP- 106

2010: ERA- 126 FIP- 108

Remember how bad some of those late-00’s early-teens rotations were and how good the starting staff has been the past two years?

That can be seen in the ERA-, but FIP- doesn’t see that large of a swing. At first I wondered if the standard deviation for FIP- on a team level was just small to begin with, but looking at other team data in the same time span there are some heavy swings.

For instance the 2011 Phillies staff (the one that featured Roy HalladayCliff LeeCole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt) had a 77 FIP- then three years later the current staff has a 107 FIP-. A -30% swing.

That’s an extreme example of a team who went from obviously elite (tied with the 2013Tigers as the best FIP- in 20 something years) to not so much once two of the pitchers retired and two poor pitches came into their spots.

The Angels had a 99 to 110 FIP- swing in that span, and a 92 to 112 ERA- swing in that time.

The Indians a 102 to 133 FIP- and 97 to 119 ERA- range.

The Yankees a 97 to 102 ERA- and 96 to 105 FIP- range.

Maybe the volatility on FIP- is larger than I thought, but for a team that went from an ugly ERA- to a good ERA- it doesn’t reflect that in FIP- swings. Certainly the metrics are measuring different aspects when it comes to batted ball data and liability, but the gap is very large in the 2010 team and the team FIP- didn’t improve that much despite the ERA- dropping 33%.

DIPS theory is a fun thing ain’t it.

Chart data courtesy of the wonderful Darren Williams at Baseball Savant