We can all look at the scoreboard and see what a player is hitting for the overall season, but it’s also important to know what a hitter’s doing right now; is he in a streak where he’s scuffling or is he currently on fire? A guy may have terrific overall numbers, but right now he’s in a slump. A hitter’s season total might look bad, but lately he’s hitting line drives all over the yard. If you want to know which hitter to pitch to and which hitter to work around, you need to know who’s hot right now.
Here are the Royals hitter season batting averages followed by what they did in the Minnesota Twins series:
Alcides Escobar: .295/.364
Eric Hosmer: .256/.600
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Billy Butler: .268/.071
Alex Gordon: .267/.091
Salvador Perez: .283/.333
Raul Ibanez: .167/.375
Omar Infante: .252/.250
Mike Moustakas: .186/.364
Jarrod Dyson: .298/.375
Lorenzo Cain: .309/.000 (0-9)
It’s a very small sample size, but Escobar, Hosmer, Perez, Ibanez, Moustakas and Dyson are coming into Cleveland hot while Butler, Gordon and Cain are cold. Now let’s look at the Cleveland Indians and what they did in their series against the Dodgers:
Jason Kipnis: .244/.167
Asdrubal Cabrera: .247/.214
Michael Brantley: .312/.167
Carlos Santana: .205/.125
Yan Gomes: .267/.272
Ryan Raburn: .204/.250
Lonnie Chisenhall: .344/.200
Mike Aviles: .266/.500
Michael Bourn: .266/.100
Nick Swisher: 197/.333
As always, when you look at any statistic there are factors not included. For instance: what pitchers did you face? If you were trying to hit a Cy Young winner who was dealing, your numbers may look bad. Face a less accomplished pitcher and you might suddenly get hot.
Here’s another factor: you might be hitting the ball great, but hitting the ball great right at people—that won’t last forever and if you continue to hit the ball hard the hits will start to fall. I also did not include walks or extra-base hits; a guy can have a bad-looking batting average, but still be contributing by getting on base and scoring runs or hitting the ball well enough to drive in runs.
And finally you need to keep in mind the most important factor of all: I put these numbers together with a slight hangover.
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July and enjoy tonight’s game against the Cleveland Indians.
(OK, looks like that piece wasn’t quite long enough, so here’s another I wrote a couple weeks ago.)
The need for simple narratives
Are the Royals winners or losers?
Well, let’s try this one: are you a good or bad person?
If the accurate answer is you’re a good person who sometimes does bad things or a bad person who sometimes does good things, you’re just about like everybody else. Nobody is all one thing—but you couldn’t tell that from listening to the media. We like simple narratives because it makes telling a story much easier.
The Royals got hot because their fathers went along on a road trip and that relaxed the players. A simple narrative and also dead wrong: there are always many factors involved—opponent, health and hangovers—but that isn’t an easy story to tell so we simplify things for our own convenience.
Why can’t Alcides Escobar be a fabulously talented shortstop who sometimes loses focus?
Why can’t Salvador Perez have some of the best physical tools in the game, but still need work on his pitch calling?
Why can’t Lorenzo Cain be a gifted athlete whose pitch selection sometimes leaves something to be desired?
Because that’s too complicated for the media; we want and need simple narratives. Any time you hear one reason being given for why something happened, remember: there are just too many factors involved for one reason to be the reason. If the narrative is simple, it’s also probably wrong.