over a full season, it seemed unlikely. Turned out it was; Buck’s best season left him 119 points short of .400 and as of this writing Buck has a lifetime average of .234.
Overreacting to early season numbers is generally a mistake.
Things change rapidly at this point of a baseball season. Eric Hosmer entered Tuesday night’s game hitting .275—if you want to overreact that could be cause for concern. Hosmer picked up four hits and ended the game hitting .311—overreact and you might start talking batting title.
Alcides Escobar started the season with a string of 0-fers and complaints that Ned Yost needed to pinch-hit for him in crucial situations. Escobar finished Tuesday night’s game against the Indians at .317. Billy Butler had two hits and a walk and absolutely crushed one of those balls to centerfield. Mike Moustakas only had one hit—a three-run homer that changed the game—but hit two more balls on the screws.
On the other hand, Salvador Perez hit .393 over the first nine games of the season, but finished Tuesday night’s game at .211. Even Miguel Cabrera—generally considered the best hitter on the planet—has lousy numbers at the start of the season. Miggy started the evening hitting .206, but picked up three hits including a double and a home run in Detroit’s game against Chicago.
The numbers are all over the place because the sample sizes are so small. Be patient; don’t overreact to early season numbers.
Odds are, John Buck isn’t going to hit .400.
The game’s biggest inning
With the score 1-0 Indians in the top of the fourth inning Mike Moustakas hit a three-run homer. Alcides Escobar singled, stole second and when the catcher’s throw went into centerfield, Esky moved up to third. Jarrod Dyson laid down a perfect bunt single and Escobar came home to make the score 4-1.
When a team has a multi-run inning and takes a lead, what happens in the next half inning is crucial. The team with the lead wants ashutdown
inning. Let the other guys score even one run and they might believe they have a chance—they’re still in it. Shut them down and they start to accept defeat.
James Shields threw a shutdown inning in the bottom of the fourth.
The Royals added tack-on runs in the fifth, the seventh and two more in the ninth—but it all started in the fourth inning. Royals beat the Indians, 8-2.
*With all the defensive shifts we’re seeing, the ability to hit the ball to the opposite field and lay down a bunt become more important. You’d think some of the dead-pull hitters would start working on those skills.
*Salvador Perez took another 0-fer and lined out to right field in the second inning. When you’re going bad it seems like every time you manage to hit a ball hard, someone is standing right in front of it. One cure for that is to change your position in the batter’s box—it changes the hitting lanes. And when you’re scuffling, changesomething.
*They say it all evens out, but Clint Hurdle once told me if you can’t run itnever evens out. If Perez could fly he might have gotten a hit on a groundball to third—but he can’t, so he didn’t. Whatever guys like Salvador Perez and Billy Butler hit is considered a hard average.
Those two don’t pick up any hits on soft rollers. Guys who can run can get jammed twice and still go two for four.
*Yan Gomes doubled down the left-field line in the sixth inning. When a hitter pulls a ball right down the line odds are it’s something off-speed and odds are it was in a bad location. Gomes hit an 83-MPH cutter.
*Before the Royals hit the road, I asked third baseman Mike Moustakas if he gets a heads up from shortstop Alcides Escobar about what pitch is coming; the answer was yes. The middle infielders can see the signs and can signal the infielders on the corners to expect a fastball or something off-speed. If a right-handed pull hitter is getting something off-speed Mike knows he can move to his right—closer to the line.
The signal from the middle infielders—some people use a low hissing sound—can’t come too soon or the base coach will pick it up and pass the information along to the hitter. Mike’s move can’t come too soon or the hitter will see it and know what it means. Once the pitcher starts his motion the infielders can signal and move—the hitter will be visually locked on to the mound.
*Got this one off the TV guys: in 2013 when the Royals scored four or more runs they went 64-13. This season they’re 10-0.
"Throwback: A Big League Catcher Tells How the Game Is Really Played" is an inside look at our national pastime, co-authored by Jason Kendall and Lee Judge. The book will be in stores on May 13th, but can be pre-ordered right now.