Judging the Royals

On Sunday, Chris Young lacked fastball command

Kansas City Royals pitcher Chris Young.
Kansas City Royals pitcher Chris Young. JSLEEZER@KCSTAR.COM

As you might imagine, talking to a team that just lost a game by 11 runs sucks; the people asking questions don’t really want to ask them, the people answering questions don’t really want to answer them. After a 13-2 whipping by the Boston Red Sox, everyone on the Royals just wanted to move on.

After Sunday’s game Ned Yost held one of his shortest postgame press conferences ever. In Ned’s mind, the main culprit was Chris Young’s fastball command. When a pitcher throws a fastball in the mid-80s and throws that fastball 62 percent of the time, he needs to hit his spots. On Sunday, Young couldn’t hit his spots so the Red Sox hit him — pretty much end of story.

Look fastball or slider off Young … probably

You might not want to believe everything you read on the Internet — I know that’s a shock — and sometimes baseball web sites misidentify pitches. Having said all that, let’s choose to believe the numbers on the website FanGraphs, because I use those numbers all the time and believing otherwise would be highly inconvenient.

According to that website, in 2015 Chris Young has thrown his fastball 61.9 percent of the time, his slider 36.4 percent of the time and his change-up 1.7 percent of the time. So what does that tell you?

Spit on Chris Young’s change-up.

When a pitcher is throwing a pitch less than 10 percent of the time, don’t worry about it — if Chris Young throws 100 pitches on average you’re going to see his change-up less than two times. (I don’t know how you throw seven-tenths of a change-up … maybe you throw a really bad one?)

Spitting on Chris Young’s change-up is solid hitting advice that might be dead wrong.

There are always exceptions

According to the numbers you won’t see that Chris Young change-up very often, but let’s say you can figure out precisely when Young throws that change-up; what if he likes to throw it in 1-2 counts with runners in scoring position? Or say Young warms up and realizes he has a really good change-up that day and decides to use it more than he normally would.

Scouting reports and numbers can tell you what’s happened in the past, but you need to pay attention if you want to know what’s happening right now. Pitchers will change the percentage of times they throw a pitch if they have a really good or bad pitch working that day.

Who’s hot right now?

When Mookie Betts arrived in Kansas City last Friday he was hitting .257 — nuthin’ to worry about, right?

But smart catchers and pitchers don’t just look at the overall average; they want to know what a hitter’s done lately. Baseball is a game of streaks; is a hitter on a hot one or a cold one?

In the six games Mookie played before showing up at Kauffman Stadium, he was 11 for 22 and even I can figure out that’s a .500 average. (It is, isn’t it?) And among those 11 hits were three doubles, a triple and a home run.

It’s safe to say Mookie Betts was on a hot streak and the Royals pitching did nothing to cool him down. Betts was nine for 14 here in KC with a double, a triple and two homers. Because he was on a hot streak, a guy who showed up with a .257 average did a lot of damage and left town hitting .277.

And the same thing applies to Omar Infante

Someone in Seattle is probably spending part of today updating Felix Hernandez on Omar Infante’s numbers. Infante has never had a hit off Hernandez in 13 at-bats and comes into Monday night’s game dragging a .229 average behind him. But Infante has hit .391 over the last seven days and .286 over the last 14.

Those most recent numbers might not change anything Felix Hernandez does, but those numbers might remind King Felix to not get sloppy with Infante; recently Omar’s hit better than the scoreboard indicates.

Online chat at noon today

If everything goes according to plan — and it rarely does — I’ll be doing an online chat at noon today. Go to KansasCity.com and throw a baseball question at me and I’ll do my best to answer it.

To reach Lee Judge, call 816-234-4482 or send email to ljudge@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @leejudge8.

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