Fire Dayton Moore

Fire Dayton Moore
It's time.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Not adding up

This post is long overdue. There probably isn't anything to say that hasn't already been said by other outlets, but I'm going to say what I have to say nonetheless.

I'm referring to the comments Dayton Moore made last week blaming Kauffman Stadium, not for the Royals' power outage, but instead for the Royals' lack of walks.

"We have the largest ballpark in terms of square footage of any ballpark in baseball," Moore told Fox Sports Kansas City. "When pitchers come here, they have the mindset to use that park -- put the ball in play, throw strikes, attack the zone. There isn't the same fear factor of getting beat deep that you might have elsewhere. I think that plays a huge factor in that walk statistic."

Remember when I wrote that Jack Maloof's bizarre views on hitting at Kauffman Stadium likely weren't his alone? Case in point. Let's recap Moore's remarks.

  1. Kauffman Stadium is spacious. True.
  2. Visiting pitchers try to use that space to their advantage. Conceivable, although unless a majority of that extra square footage is in foul territory, I'm not sure how significant that advantage is.
  3. The Royals get an inordinate amount of pitches to hit at home and therefore don't take enough pitches or even get enough pitches outside the zone to walk. Possibly.

The Royals are tied for last in baseball with just 81 walks at home. On the road, the club is better, ranking 19th with 99 walks on the road and having played two more games on the road than at home.

However, if we assume opponents are putting more pitches in the zone, the Royals should have higher strikeout numbers at home. That isn't the case. The Royals have struck out 199 times at home compared to 266 times on the road.

The only possible explanation I can come up with that wouldn't contradict Moore's statement is perhaps opposing pitchers do put more pitches in the zone when the Royals are at home, but the Royals simply swing at more bad pitches on the road. Bad pitches are harder to hit and thus their strikeout numbers are worse on the road.

If that is the case, though, it reinforces the genesis of this blog — that Moore has compiled a roster of undisciplined, inherently bad hitters. Rather than finding hitters who can work walks in a home ballpark where walks might be particularly beneficial, he's managed to stockpile some of the freest swingers in the game.

Going back to Moore's quote, the first thing that sticks out to me is opponents don't get to field a proportionate amount of fielders based on ballpark dimensions. Whether they have to cover a studio apartment or Yellowstone National Park, teams only get nine fielders. Therefore, by my calculations: more balls in play + more square footage + same amount of fielders = more balls falling in for hits.

That doesn't seem to be the case as the Royals are 25th in baseball with 282 hits at home. However, on the road, the Royals are 8th in baseball with 344 hits. And we already know it's not as if the Royals are experiencing a power surge when they escape the unfriendly confines of The K. They're last in baseball in road home runs with 22.

So when the Royals are on the road, in smaller ballparks, they're somehow finding a way for more hits to fall in, but not leave the park? That doesn't add up to me.

It doesn't add up to CBS Sports Baseball Writer Mike Axisa, who found that the Royals' walk rate in 2013 are actually an exception to Moore's rule. According to Axisa, since 2000, the Royals' have a 7.6 percent walk rate compared to 7.0 percent on the road. So if this is a theory Moore has harbored for some time, it hasn't occurred to opposing pitching coaches until this season.

It also didn't add up to Sam Miller and Ben Lindbergh over at Baseball Prospectus on the Effectively Wild Podcast. In discussing Moore's comments, Miller pointed out two interesting tidbits:

  1. Since 2007, only the Orioles have walked more opposing batters at home than the Royals.
  2. Since 2007, only the Mariners have drawn fewer walks on the road than the Royals.

Even if you were to accept Moore's logic, there's no way to explain those two statistics with his logic. If opponents have figured out the advantage in limiting free passes at Kauffman Stadium, why hasn't Moore's own coaching staff? And if Moore's teams were capable of drawing more walks under normal circumstances, why haven't they been able to away from The K?

I'll give Moore credit for one thing — he's become an expert at ducking blame for the subpar team he's constructed.

He reached in the draft for a player he'll likely champion as the replacement for his current third baseman, who drove in his first run since May 23 on Saturday, months after trading away a right fielder who drove in four runs with one swing of the bat on Saturday.

The Royals have dropped four of their last six, all AL Central games, and could be back in fourth place by the end of the month with a four-game series coming up with the Twins. Maybe there is something to Moore's Kauffman Stadium logic. Something is going on and has been for some time. But even if there is something to it, it doesn't change the fact he's built a roster ill-equipped to succeed in his ballpark.

Fire Dayton Moore

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