Stick around long enough in the business of covering baseball and you're bound to hear accusations of bias, particularly when you bring a little extra vitriol to an analysis of somebody else's favorite team. Let's face it: Even the homeliest of franchises is somebody's favorite team, and the homelier they are, the higher the chance that its fan base gets a wee bit sensitive when folks come a-piling on. After getting under a few more skins than usual, I started this project a few weeks ago as a way of making light of the grudges, great and small, that I bear against every team—including the ones for whom I cheer when I'm kicking back on the couch or at the ballpark. Welcome back to the Hate List, where I've got something against your team.
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In the wake of another long losing streak for the Royals, we revisit an even longer one from last decade.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
The Royals ended a 12-game losing streak on Wednesday, but that wasn't nearly their longest in recent memory. To refresh your memory on the Royals' futility and the odds of long losing streaks, take another look at the article reproduced below, which originally ran as a "Crooked Numbers" column on August 18, 2005.
Johan Santana and Josh Johnson turned back the clock in a vintage pitcher's duel on Tuesday.
The Tuesday Takeaway Josh Johnson missed most of the 2011 season because of inflammation in his right shoulder. Johan Santana was shelved for much of it while rehabbing from a torn capsule in his left one. But on Tuesday night in Queens, they decided to party like it was 2009.
The Marlins and Mets aces matched each other out for out, hit for hit, and run for run on a night that was supposed to be highlighted by Jose Reyes’ return to Citi Field. Instead, Reyes went an inauspicious 0-for-4, while Johnson and Santana stole the show.
Umpires shouldn't settle for "close enough" when it comes to perfection.
The Weekend Takeaway
Did he go? That was the question percolating through every baseball fan’s mind after the White Sox’ Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in major-league history against the Mariners on Saturday afternoon.
Brendan Ryan, who pinch-hit for Munenori Kawasaki, worked the count full, fouled off Humber’s first payoff pitch, and then either swung or did not swing at a slider that broke well off the plate outside. But did he go?
The Royals' rotation is off to a stellar start, and tonight's match-ups will feature many aces.
The Tuesday Takeaway
Pop quiz: Name the five current members of the Royals starting rotation.
Those five pitchers have combined to throw 29 innings in the team’s first turn through the rotation and have allowed just five runs on 18 hits, 13 walks, 22 strikeouts, and no home runs. That adds up to a stellar 3.03 FIP—and it’s the main reason why manager Ned Yost’s team is off to a 3-2 start, considering that his offense has only produced 16 runs to date.
Fresh off his five-week stay in Arizona, Jason transcribes some notes on prospects he saw in the Royals system.
“Baseball is my stereo, and out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy, and out in the back seat of my ’60 Chevy, and workin’ on mysteries without any clues, and workin’ on our night moves.” –A friend of a friend of Bob Seger
The only thing better than watching prospects is watching prospects with high ceilings, and the only thing better than watching prospects with high ceilings is watching prospects with high ceilings who actually start playing like prospects with high ceilings. During my five-week stay in Arizona, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time watching the talent in the Kansas City Royals system, and with each subsequent viewing, I walked away from the fields with the another high-end prospect tattooed on my sunburned brain. It’s a pleasing pain. It’s a good hurt.
For baseball's underdogs, why not here, why not now?
On Opening Day of last season, Baseball Prospectus’ playoff odds gave the Arizona Diamondbacks a 1.2 percent chance of making the playoffs. Until May 25th, their record remained under .500, and their playoff odds stayed stuck under 2 percent. That was when they made their move, morphing into the season’s most surprising success. From May 26th through the end of the season, they went 69-44, winning the National League West with eight games to spare.
There’s no way anyone could have known that the Diamondbacks would be that good, for the simple reason that they weren’t that good. The D-backs had a run-of-the-mill rotation and relief corps, a defense that was no better than decent, and a league-average lineup that hit much worse away from Chase Field. However, they also stayed healthy, losing the fewest days to injury of any NL team. Perhaps more importantly, they recorded a league-best 28-16 record in one-run games, which often hinge as much on luck as they do on skill. As a result, they outplayed their third-order winning percentage—an expected record based on underlying statistics and adjusted for quality of opponents—by 10 1/2 games, the biggest margin in baseball.
What are some of the big questions surrounding the AL and NL Central?
Continuing what I started with the two East divisions on Friday, I've identified one nagging question I have about each team coming out of spring training, one loose thread that I can't resist tugging upon as the season nears. Today, it's the two Central divisions.
Are team-friendly contract extensions signed early in players' careers about to become a lot longer?
A few weeks ago, I asked this question on Twitter: If Mike Trout were willing to sign a 20-year contract with the Angels right now, what would be a fair price? The responses I got ranged from $100 million to $350 million and averaged $243 million. Glenn DuPaul did the heavy lifting to try to answer this, which is great for me, because Less Heavy Lifting is basically my entire goal in life. It’s why I went to college, and it’s why my furniture is made of Nerf. Glenn’s answer: $274 million. OK! He also wrote this, which is probably what I would have written, too, to avoid sounding like a crazy person:
Why the Royals and Padres will win their divisions, and four questions with Dustin Ackley.
The emails and tweets have been most interesting in the days since our staff predictions were posted on the website. Most people think I am nuts for picking the Royals to win the American League Central and the Padres to win the National League West. Perhaps they will be proven right. After all, I was the only one of 27 staff members to pick either team to win its division. Remember, though, that 29 of the 30 people who were on the staff at this time last season picked the Red Sox to win the AL East. The one person who predicted the Red Sox not only wouldn't win the division but also fail to qualify for the postseason? Well, I was a taught at an early age that it's impolite to brag.