For What it's Worth: Shockers, Royals & Wedge
Wichita State went through a stretch recently when they went 0-43 with runners in scoring position. Forty three chances to drive in a runner at second or third and not one base hit for the better parts of two weeks. It’s little wonder that they dropped eight straight games in reaching their worst ever mid-season record. To their credit, they didn’t stay down for long.
Winners of five straight now, they’re suddenly clutch at the plate and are scoring runs in bunches. Consider the 44 runs they’ve scored in their last five games, do you know how many games previous to that it took them to get to 44 runs? Try sixteen.
Baseball is a weird game when it comes to momentum---good begets better while bad begets worse. That’s generally true in any sport, but none hands it from player to player quite like baseball. Todd Butler has done a nice job keeping things positive, despite what must have been some really frustrating private moments.
Baseball is a natural game of failure; even the best hitters fail seventy percent of the time. It’s how you deal and learn from that failure which eventually determines the kind of hitter you are. Can you remain confident when things go bad, as they inevitably will? Can you stay positive when it would be much easier to doubt yourself at the plate? Are you disciplined enough to not get anxious? Every hitter is unique, but no hitter is immune to the mind games they play with themselves. It’s why hitting a baseball is one of the hardest skills in all of sports to master.
Speaking of good weeks---
Seems like that 4-7 start was much ado about nothing. The Royals win five straight, ok, against the Astros and Twins, but five in a row before losing yesterday to fall a game behind the Tigers. The Royals are tenth in team batting average in the Big Leagues, but are 27th in runs scored, last in homers and are 24th out of 30 in OPS (slugging pct. plus on base pct.). They have, however, struck out fewer times than any team in baseball and their pitching has been great.
Kansas City is eighth in staff ERA, they’re eighth stingiest in homers allowed and fifth toughest to hit against. You throw in a top ten defense and you’ve got a team that has a chance to win more times than they lose.
It’ll be interesting to see how the offense on this club continues to develop. With Lorenzo Cain on the disabled list—there isn’t a single everyday player hitting over .300. Alcides Escobar was the worst everyday hitter in the big leagues last year; right now he’s the Royals leading hitter. Seventeen games into the season Mike Moustakas leads the team in homers with-- two.
Good arms can take you further than good bats, having both puts you in title contention. The Royals can still get there, but it makes their margin for error so much thinner. Already, nine of their seventeen games have been decided by two or less runs.
Good to see---
Have you caught Eric Wedge on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight? The former Shocker looks and sounds pretty at ease on camera. Wedge is a former Manager of the Year in Cleveland and managed in Seattle where health problems (and losses) cost him. It’s good to see him right back in the game, even if it’s not on the field.