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Entries in Kansas City Royals (17)


Soria Steps Down as Royals' Closer

Aaron Crow has replaced struggling Joakim Soria as the Kansas City Royals' closer.  Heading into Monday's game, opposing batters were hitting .288/.374/.463 against Soria.  He blew yet another save today (his second in two days) yielding 3 runs on 4 hits in the ninth inning versus the Los Angeles Angels.  The two-run HR he gave up to Torii Hunter was the 4th he's allowed this season which matches his 2010 total.

Right handed batters are a major source of Soria's troubles.  Through May 29th, they were hitting  .302/.388/.581 against him for a .412 wOBA.  In 2009 and 2010 combined, righties put up a measly .269 wOBA.  His location this season is likely a major reason why he's struggled against them.

(Click to enlarge)

Soria was pretty consistent at keeping the ball away from RHB over the last two years, getting beat mostly when throwing over the middle of the plate.  This season, he seems to be living in the middle, and is paying the price for it.  Specifically, Soria has been leaving his cutter middle-in to RHB.  From 2009-2010, righties mustered a .274 wOBA against his cutter.  This season, he's thrown 100 cutters to righties and his wOBA against on the pitch has risen 200 points to .474.

Getting his control over the cutter would go a long way towards helping Joakim Soria regain the closer's role in Kansas City.


Called Strikes out of the Strike Zone

(All 2011 games through May 16th - min. 100 pitches taken outside of the strike zone)

The first column indicates the total number of pitches the batter has taken outside of the pitchFX defined strike zone.  The second column shows what percent of taken pitches out of the strike zone were called strikes. Six New York Mets made the list - that's nearly a quarter of the top 25.  Call it the Madoff effect.  Oakland comes in second with 4 batters making the list.  The majority of these pitches are located off the outside edge of the zone as the following graphic indicates.

Called Strikes outside the Strike Zone in 2011

Here's a list of the batters that have had the least "non-strike" strikes called against them.

(All 2011 games through May 16th - min. 100 pitches taken outside of the strike zone)

It's interesting that Jeff Francoeur gets the smallest percent of bad strikes called against him.  The RHB ranks in the bottom 6% of the league in chasing pitches out of the zone.  Umpires apparently appreciate his free-swinging ways.


A Quick Look at Eric Hosmer

The Kansas City Royals called up Eric Hosmer (KCA) when Kila Ka'aihua (KCA) failed to hit in the majors this year.  Hosmer is off to a good start.  While his batting average isn't high at .242, he draws enough walks for a .333 OBP and slugs .515.

So far, pitchers work him outside:

Eric Hosmer, pitch frequency, 2011.They may not be working him far enough outside, however, as he owns the middle of the strike zone.

Eric Hosmer, in play batting average, 2011.Note his ability to hit the low pitch as well.  Eric smashes those for line drives with a higher frequency than balls in the middle of the plate.  Pitchers have another advantage going outside:

Eric Hosmer, called strike rate on taken pitches, 2011.Hosmer has shown good strike zone judgement.  He gets the calls at the top and bottom of the strike zone, but so far the outside edge belongs to the pitcher.  That's a bit unfair to the rookie.  He struck out three times on those outside strikes.  With his low number of at bats, it's one reason his batting average is low.  I hope the Royals encourage him to keep taking those pitches.  Eventually he'll get the calls, and pitchers will be forced into the strike zone where he can smack the ball.