Judging the Royals

Why a power hitter might want to play somewhere other than the K

Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer watched his two-run home run during the fifth inning of Sunday’s game.
Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer watched his two-run home run during the fifth inning of Sunday’s game. The Associated Press

On Sunday, against the San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer had a pretty good day: 2-for-4, two runs scored, three driven in, one home run. Saturday wasn’t bad either: 2-for-5 with another homer. On Friday, Hosmer was 2-for-3.

Just in case you hadn’t noticed, Eric Hosmer hits well in Petco Park.

Some of it has to do with Padres pitching — their staff is currently tied for last place in team ERA — but some of Hosmer’s success is based on Petco Park itself; dead left is about 367 feet from home plate, in right it’s about 364.

In Kauffman Stadium dead left and right are probably about 380. So when Hosmer drops an opposite field wall-scraper just beyond Petco’s left-field fence, he knows that same fly ball would probably be an out in the K.

Certain parks favor certain hitters.

So when it comes to retaining hitters with pop, that can be a problem; those hitters know if they played somewhere other than Kauffman Stadium, their offensive numbers would probably be more impressive.

Picture Mike Moustakas in the American League East.

At home he’s dealing with a right-field foul pole 330 feet away, and a right-center gap that’s 387 feet from home plate.

Here are the dimensions of the AL East parks:

▪ Baltimore: right-field foul pole 318 feet away, right-field gap 373 feet away.

▪ Boston: right-field foul pole 302 feet away, right-field gap 380 feet away.

▪ New York: right-field foul pole 314 feet away, right-field gap 385 feet away.

▪ Tampa Bay: right-field foul pole 322 feet away, right-field gap 370 feet away.

▪ Toronto: right-field foul pole 328 feet away, right-field gap 375 feet away.

When a Kansas City Royals player hits a fly ball warning-track out in Kauffman Stadium, he’s well aware that the same fly ball in another park would be a homer.

And if the player isn’t thinking about that, his agent probably is.

First base and advanced defensive metrics

On Sunday, Erick Aybar was charged with an error when he bounced a throw to Wil Myers at first base. Myers took a swipe at the ball, but missed it entirely; the ball went into the stands.

If you’re a Royals fan, try to remember the last time you saw Eric Hosmer completely miss a bad throw that was within reach.

Royals infielders have confidence that Hosmer will at least knock the ball down and that allows them to attempt plays that they wouldn’t try otherwise.

The number-one thing a first baseman does is handle bad throws from teammates and the advanced metrics that supposedly show Hosmer as a below-average defender do not include handling bad hops.

I imagine Erick Aybar thinks they should.

How one bad inning can lead to another

Back when Wade Davis was still a Royal, he and Chris Young were talking about pitching on the road and why a starting pitcher might do better at home.

If you’re the home starter, you have a pretty good idea of when you’ll throw your first pitch; it’s right there on the schedule.

The visiting starter is in a different situation.

He comes to the dugout and then has to sit through the top of the first. And as Davis and Young pointed out, that might be a long sit. If the home starter has a bad inning, that might lead to another bad inning by the visiting starter.

This comes up now because on Sunday, Dinelson Lamet — the Padres starting pitcher — had a rough first inning. Lamet faced seven batters, allowed four runs and threw 26 pitches.

All that took a while.

When Jake Junis finally got to throw a pitch, he also had a slightly bumpy first inning; no runs scored, but Junis gave up a single to the first batter he saw, walked another and threw 19 pitches.

In the top of the second, Lamet settled down and had a 1-2-3 inning while throwing 17 pitches; in the bottom of the second Junis also settled down, had his own 1-2-3 inning and got away with throwing 13 pitches.

Most of the newer stadiums have a batting cage just outside the dugout and if a pitcher really feels like he needs to throw to stay warm, he could use that. But if the pitcher stays on the bench, watching a long half inning by the opposing pitcher, pay attention to what happens in the next half inning.

One bad inning can lead to another.

Next game is Tuesday

Monday is an off day for the Royals. They’ll resume the schedule on Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants.

Talk to you soon.