Judging the Royals

The Royals lose their sixth in a row; never say it can’t get worse

Former Kansas City Royals manager Buddy Bell in 2006.
Former Kansas City Royals manager Buddy Bell in 2006. jsleezer@kcstar.com

If you’ve been wondering how things could get any worse, the Royals have answered that question. On Monday night against the White Sox, the Royals lost 12-1. On Tuesday night, the Sox beat the Royals 10-5.

That’s even worse than it sounds and it sounds pretty bad.

In 2016, the worst team batting average in all of baseball was .235; coming into Monday night’s game the White Sox team batting average was .211.

So the Royals not only lost big, they lost big to a team that had been struggling.

There’s an famous quote from former Royals manager Buddy Bell: “I never say it can’t get worse.”

Buddy Bell knew what he was talking about.

“The more your head moves, the less you hit”

That’s a quote from Royals general manager Dayton Moore and it makes sense.

Not long ago I wrote about Ted Williams’ first rule of hitting: get a good pitch to hit.

But if your head moves and you’re not seeing the ball, it’s hard to pick out a good pitch. And even if you do guess right, it’s hard to square up that good pitch.

When you watch the Royals hitters, pay attention to how many times they finish a swing with their heads up, looking toward the pull side of the field.

And where the head goes, the body follows.

Pull your head and your front shoulder goes with it and that will make your bat drag and late to contact.

In the fifth inning of Tuesday night’s game, Eric Hosmer got some good pitches to hit, but his bat was late and he fouled them off to the left side. And if you’re getting pitches to hit but not getting them in play, you might stay at the plate long enough to strike out.

And that’s what Hosmer did.

Bonifacio and the 0-2 slider

Last Sunday against the Texas Rangers, Jorge Bonifacio was in an 0-2 count when Yu Darvish threw a slider away, off the plate.

Bonifacio never moved and that’s a good sign.

It meant he was keeping his head still and picked up the slider early enough not to chase it.

Wade Davis once told me he didn’t like to throw breaking pitches to Miguel Cabrera because Miggy kept his head still and would take the breaking pitch if it was a ball and crush the breaking pitch if it was a strike.

Wade said he threw breaking pitches to guys who moved their heads because they wouldn’t see the spin so clearly.

After Bonifacio laid off that 0-2 slider, he fouled off two more pitches and then hit a cutter for a single.

Salvador Perez costs Danny Duffy a pitch and gives away the fastball

Considering the final score, it’s hard to say it was a pivotal moment, but in the second inning Salvador Perez cost Danny Duffy a strike on the first pitch to Matt Davidson.

The pitch was a fastball away and caught the zone, but Perez jerked his mitt around when he decided to act like he might make a pickoff throw to first base. Home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman did not give Duffy the call and Davidson eventually walked.

At another point in the game, Perez went down on one knee to receive a pitch with a runner on second base.

Now here’s the problem:

Being on one knee means the catcher won’t be able to move much, so it increases the odds that the next pitch will be a fastball; the catcher knows he won’t have to block a slider or curve in the dirt.

If the runner on second base sees that the catcher is on one knee, he can signal the hitter. Heck, if the on-deck hitter pays attention he can signal the hitter.

So when you see a catcher get comfortable and use some exaggerated stance, odds are the next pitch is a fastball and that’s something hitters want to know.

Lorenzo Cain tries to do the right thing

Maybe I’m grumpy because I had to get up at 5 a.m. to write a post and draw a cartoon before the Royals play the Sox at 1:10 p.m. Wednesday, but so far this seems pretty negative, so here’s something good worth mentioning.

In the third inning, Mike Moustakas led off with a double and Lorenzo Cain was clearly trying to do the right thing and move Moose to third. The score was 1-1 at the time so having a runner on third would make a difference.

Cain walked on 10 pitches.

Now back to our regularly-scheduled grumpiness.

Does Geovany Soto have the “thing”?

When players have the “thing” — baseball slang for the throwing yips — they’ll try to hide it so other teams won’t take advantage.

Apparently White Sox catcher Geovany Soto has tried to explain his odd way of getting the ball back to the mound — he goes to one knee and kind of flips it — as the result of a knee problem.

But I’ve asked around and most people aren’t buying it.

If Soto plays Wednesday and the Royals get a base runner, don’t be surprised if they run on him.

A Facebook Live with Rusty Kuntz at 3 p.m. Friday

Let’s end on a happy note if possible.

This Friday, April 28, fans who bought a theme ticket to the game against the Minnesota Twins will receive a Rusty Kuntz bobblehead.

Rusty has agreed to appear with me on a Facebook Live at 3 p.m., this Friday.

Assuming Rusty remembers to show up — he asked me to text him — we’ll show his bobblehead (and I just realized how bad that sounds) and have a chat.

I think the odds of one us doing something inappropriate are sky high, so you don’t want to miss it.

More details will be forthcoming.

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