Series Preview: I Know Who I Want To Take Me Home
Image courtesy of © Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY SportsBrief Overview:
Let's start with a number: 97. Is that the amount of passing yards Kirk Cousins had last Sunday or the amount of losses the 2019 Royals have already suffered? It feels like the former but it is actually the latter as KC continues to lose without a care in the world. With two teams already at 100 losses on the season, the Royals look to make the prestigious club just a bit bigger as their tank continues to run throughout the Central.
What They Do Well:
As with most teams that are bad, they must be good in some way that makes them actually pretty annoying to play against. The Royals do this by being fourth in MLB in stolen bases with 110 swiped bags. Along with this, they have four players with steal totals in the double digits so their speed comes from a variety of players. Although, Billy Hamilton is no longer on the team so their total speed is weakened a touch but still remains a potent threat.
What else is really annoying? Playing good defense. Can you guess what the Royals do well? Yep, their UZR/150 is ninth in MLB so expect a well-rounded group that won’t give away many free outs. A lot of their great defense comes from their middle infield duo of Nicky Lopez and Adalberto Mondesi, both grading out well along with some good outfield defense from a number of players who could make hitting fly balls a less fun adventure than it usually is.
What They Do Not Do Well:
I’ll make this quick because I don’t have the time to write a proper thesis here. Probably the most immediately egregious aspect of the Royals is their starting pitching, as currently they are fifth to last in MLB for starting pitching fWAR. That by itself is terrible but also consider that both of their top two starters, Brad Keller and Jakob Junis, have been shut down for the rest of the year. This leaves Danny Duffy as their best remaining starter and a trail of sadness follows him down the list of KC starters. It will be interesting to see how they string together innings during this series given this deficit.
Alright, well, they can’t pitch, but can they hit?
No! Their team wRC+ of 83 is third to last in MLB and also tied for Tim Laudner’s career mark. They have an interesting core of Hunter Dozier, Jorge Soler, Whit Merrifield, and Adalberto Mondesi, but the drop-off after those players is immediate and quite frightening. Alex Gordon is just below the average mark at 93 but it gets uglier than the color palette in Solo: A Star Wars Story after that. So much so that I’ll leave it up to the imagination of the reader in order to make this article more pleasant.
Individuals Of Note:
Take a gander at the home run leaderboard for 2019 and you’ll see a lot of names like Pete Alonso, Eugenio Suárez, Mike Trout … Jorge Soler??? Yes, the once uber-prospect for the Cubs has figured it out in 2019 and is mashing baseballs like they owe him money. He’s been especially spicy recently as his wRC+ in August was 173 and in September it has been 172 so he is swinging a bat made of pure lava.
Hunter Dozier is another one of the players that make up the interesting hitting core of the Royals and he has had a peculiar season in 2019. His wRC+ on a month-to-month basis resembles an upside down pyramid as he cratered fairly hard in June but has since recovered. His overall wRC+ is 129 but he has also struck out more and walked less in the second half compared to the first half, possibly a sign of decline.
Flip over to the reliever section of FanGraphs and do a little scrolling down the K% list and you’ll find Scott Barlow there at 37th among qualified relievers by K%. That total would be the third highest in the Twins’ bullpen (behind Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers), but Barlow is a random reliever who has been a better strikeout artist than guys like Roberto Osuna and Joe Kelly in 2019 and he deserves some credit because being a middle reliever on the 2019 Royals is a worse fate than being a cartel leader in Breaking Bad.
The Twins and Royals last played a three-game series at Target Field in early August and the Twins swept the Royals. Overall, the Twins are 9-3 against the Royals this season.
The Twins are 8-7 over their last five series while the Royals are 7-8 over their last five series.
Thursday: Gibson vs Montgomery
Friday: TBD vs Skoglund
Saturday: Berríos vs Sparkman
Sunday: Pérez vs López
Kansas City is a movable object and while the Twins haven’t quite been an unstoppable force recently, this is still a series they should win. Don’t be fooled by the Royals’ recent record as most of their wins have come from the likes of Detroit, Miami, and Chicago, although they just played a respectable series against Oakland to their credit. I still don’t see this series getting out of hand unless some series shenanigans ensue so I’ll call for the Twins to take three of four and then be on my way.