Judging the Royals

Why rallies are more likely when the Royals don’t swing for the fences

Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar (left) and Alex Gordon celebrated after both scored against the San Francisco Giants during the third inning of Tuesday’s game.
Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar (left) and Alex Gordon celebrated after both scored against the San Francisco Giants during the third inning of Tuesday’s game. The Associated Press

On Tuesday night, Royals left-hander Jason Vargas threw seven innings, while allowing five hits and a single run. That performance was good enough to beat the San Francisco Giants and, according to Rustin Dodd’s game story, pitching coach Dave Eiland summed it up with a simple phrase: “Vintage Vargy.”

No word on what hitting coach Dale Sveum thought of the offense, but if he’d called it “Vintage Keep The Line Moving” he wouldn’t have been far off.

The Royals scored eight runs in two innings — the third and sixth — and, if you were a fan back in 2014 and 2015, those rallies looked familiar.

Four singles in the third inning accounted for two runs; only one of the singles was pulled. Four singles, a walk, a double and a triple in the sixth inning accounted for six runs and none of the hits were pulled.

When the Royals swing for the fences and try to pull the ball, they become much more vulnerable to the strikeout or rollover grounder.

When the Royals hit the ball up the middle and to the opposite field, they see the ball longer and have a better chance of laying off bad pitches and getting a good one to hit.

Going to the opposite field might cost you in the home-run category — this season the Royals have hit 74 home runs and only five were hit to the opposite field — but setting your sights up the middle and the other way can help a team put multi-hit rallies together.

When one guy tries to do it all, the offense scuffles; when the Royals try to do it together, good things tend to happen.

The draft is a crapshoot

It’s that time of year, so let’s take a look at the MLB draft — of 2012.

Here are the top 20 picks in the order they were selected:

Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, Mike Zunino, Kevin Gausman, Kyle Zimmer, Albert Almora, Max Fried, Mark Appel, Andrew Heaney, David Dahl, Addison Russell, Gavin Cecchini, Courtney Hawks, Nick Travieso, Tyler Naquin, Lucas Giolito, D.J. Davis, Corey Seager, Michael Wacha and Chris Stratton.

Some of these names will be familiar to baseball fans, others won’t. But all those players had one thing in common: someone — and someone with a lot of baseball experience — thought they were one of the best 20 players available.

It seems some people get more excited about prospects than players who already have proven they can play in the big leagues, but go back and look at any draft and it’s a good reminder that it’s hard to predict the future; can’t-miss prospects miss. A player might wilt when he finally has to compete against players just as good as he is. Give a kid a boatload of money and he might not be the same kid.

No matter how exciting a prospect appears to be, it’s good to remember — as one Royals front office guy said — the draft is still a crapshoot.

Wednesday’s game

If you want to understand Wednesday’s game, it’s usually helpful to look at Tuesday’s.

On Tuesday, Jason Vargas went seven innings, the offense exploded for eight runs and with a seven-run lead, Ned Yost could hand the ball to Travis Wood, who came into the game with an ERA of 8.31. Wood pitched the final two innings and that meant the rest of the bullpen got another day off.

And that means the rest of the bullpen should be available for today’s game.

Wednesday’s starters are Jason Hammel and Johnny Cueto; first pitch is at 2:45 p.m., so figure out some reason to be near a TV this afternoon.

Enjoy the game.