A Real Bronx Cheer: Kansas City’s Right to Boo Robinson Cano

When I used to teach at the Florida State University, I would occasionally — okay, more than occasionally — make fun of my home state of Alabama.  And, I would always follow it up with a simple disclaimer: “It’s okay, I’m from there.  I can make fun of Alabama.”

In many ways, I feel that Jeff Passan is doing the same thing with Kansas City.  In his article following MLB’s All-Star Game, Passan takes several shots at his “hometown” for their excessive booing of the New York Yankees’ Robinson Cano.  From the Home Run Derby to the actual “game” itself, KC fans let out a hearty Bronx cheer for Cano.  And Passan took them to task for it.

But if fans attending the All-Star game were excessive, then so was Passan in his out-of-the-way bashing of Kansas City.  Reminders of KC’s title drought — would he do the same to Cleveland? — and that the “best” players have no interest in playing in western Missouri litter Passan’s article.  All that was lacking was a reference to a line in Mel Brooks’ movie Blazing Saddles.  Or, at least a link.

Nevertheless, Passan seems to miss the point on a couple of levels.  First, all the loveliness in the world is not going to suddenly draw the best players to Kansas City.  Players are not flocking to Kansas City or Minneapolis or even St. Petersburg.  Why?

Money.  Or lack thereof.  KC will be fortunate to hold on to its young talent.  The best players are going to go to where the money is located.  Minnesota thrived and Tampa Bay is thriving because of young (and relatively cheap) talent and good systems.  But they cannot compete long-term.  Think about it.  People like to point out how brutal the New York media can be if you fail to produce.  Yet, players still go there.  $$$$$$!  And money translates to (at least) championship contention.

Ergo, Passan misses the point here.  Booing did not change anything.  Players were not going to Kansas City even before the All-Star Game.  What makes Passan think they were suddenly going to want to go there afterwards (sans booing).

As for the lack of championships, purchasing power (or lack thereof) can partially explain that…along with only two professional teams in KC (at least at the “major” level).  Okay, they have three, if you include the Kansas City Wizards Sporting Kansas City.  And hey, Kansas City’s MLS team has the most recent championship for the city…um, metropolitan area.

Anyway, Passan misses the bigger picture.  And, it is actually one that Passan half-assed admitted to…that KC fans had the right to boo.  In fact, they were bestowed that right when Cano reneged on his earlier statement to include a Royal in the Home Run Derby.

Sure, to be fair, Cano would have had a difficult time replacing Jose Bautista or Prince Fielder.  Mark Trumbo, though, could have been replaced.  Outside of Los Angeles, are fans really clamoring to see Trumbo hit?  Yeah, I know…outside of Kansas City, are fans really clamoring to see Billy Butler hit?  Especially someone who has never hit more than 21 homers in a season.

But, then again, if Trumbo and Butler are basically interchangeable (in the eyes of casual baseball fans), then why not give Butler the nod?  He probably could have hit more than Cano did.  And it gives the hometown fans — fans who suffer so much, according to Passan — something to genuinely cheer for during Monday night’s festivities.  Especially since KC had only one representative.

But no.  Cano backed out.  And instead of taking Cano to task over his flip-flopping (well, to be fair, Passan did state that Cano was “stupid” for insinuating he’d take a Royal), Passan lays into Kansas City.

But KC did nothing more than what any other collection of fans in any other sport would have done, given the situation.  Perhaps this would not have happened in New York has a Yankee (or next year, a Met) been left out of the home run derby after a promise to include one was made.  But, that is because New York does not give a shit.  Beyond that, Royal fans were being loyal to their player…and booed like they are supposed to do.

Yet, for this, they were called “classless” and “jerks.”  Where are these labels when this is done simply for an opposing team — not because that team anally raped the mothers of the other team while putting sugar in the home players’ gas tanks.  No…they are booing……because they are the opposing team.  In other words, they are booing for no reason!  And yet…no outcry.

Or what about when Jets fans boo whatever player is drafted during the NFL Draft?  It is a “ritual.”  But they are not “jerks”??

Yet, Royal fans had a legitimate reason to boo.  Not because Cano is Yankee; but because he reneged on a statement that he’d include a hometown boy in the Home Run Derby.  Is it a petty reason?  Perhaps.  Was it excessive?  Maybe.  But they earned that right.

Look, in general I am no fan of booing.  I do not think it accomplishes anything.  But if KC fans want to boo, then so be it.  Let it out.  If Passan wants to claim it is frustration over years of ineptitude, then so be it.  But, had Cano actually chosen Butler, then there would have been no boos at all.

The only thing that Royal fans did wrong was attempt to “justify” their actions in the media and talk radio.  That they had to defend themselves from the silly reaction from the national media (i.e., that it was “classless” when the same media does not criticize all fans for booing) was sad to begin with.  But those fans did not need to defend themselves anyway.  But, by doing so, it is almost as though they do think it is wrong…but need to explain themselves.  Kind of like having to explain the punchline to a joke…if you have to do that, then the joke is not funny.

So, if KC fans are having to defend themselves, then maybe they should not have booed in the first place.  Ah…but they earned that right to do so.  They were essentially taken on a guilt-trip by people like Passan and made to believe that they had no business booing “such a fine player” like Cano.  That the Royals fans had to deal with the “backlash” (as Passan put it) was ridiculous.  So, they naturally were left to defend actions that they initially felt were within their bundle of rights.  And yet, in the end, they were the ones left ridiculed.

In other words, a vicious circle was created by people like Passan, who want to “shame” Royal fans for doing the very same thing that others do for no reason whatsoever.  By shaming them into believing that they were wrong, Kansas Citians felt obligated to defend themselves.  And, by extension, probably led to the increased intensity of booing during the “game” itself.  Take that, media!

So, to Passan and others that criticized Kansas City fans for giving Cano the ol’ Bronx Cheer…I say…

booooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!

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Kansas City Rub: Stats for 2012 All-Stars at Kauffman Stadium…and Beyond

[NOTE: if you want to access the stats for All-Stars at Kauffman Stadium, or their post-break stats, jump to the end of the article and download the Excel files].

Last year, we posted an article that outlined historical stats of the all-stars participating in the 2011 “Midsummer Classic” at Chase Field in Arizona.  It was a short-lived, yet moderate success.

This season, we’ve decided to do the same thing with respect to the home of the Kansas City Royals — beautiful Kauffman Stadium.  And it is a beautiful stadium…it is just not on ESPN often (unless, of course, the Yankees or Red Sox are playing there).

But, we’ve also decided to take it a step forward.  You see, looking at stats at Kauffman Stadium is going to be biased towards American League players (just as Chase Field stats are towards National League players) because Kauffman is an AL stadium.  So, in addition to Kauffman stats, we will also examine post-All Star break stats in order to see which All-Stars will flourish in the second half of the season…and which will falter.

First…Kauffman Stadium:

STATISTICS at KAUFFMAN STADIUM

  • American League

First, two things to note.  (1) Billy Butler is the lone Royals representative.  His 386 games and 1437 at-bats is second only to former Royal and current NL All-Star Carlos Beltran.  So, Butler has the largest AL sample (though not necessarily the best).  (2) Rookie Mike Trout has yet to play at Kansas City and therefore has no stats.

Of the 20 “qualified” players, Texas Rangers’ Adrian Beltre has the best batting average (0.366), doing so in 112 at-bats over 29 games.  He is followed by Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers, Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins, and New York Yankees’ Robinson Cano.

At the other end, Baltimore Orioles’ catcher Matt Wieters has the worst batting average (0.139 in 36 at-bats), followed be Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox, Mike Napoli of the Rangers, new-AL player Prince Fielder of the Tigers, and the Rangers’ Ian Kinsler.

  1. Adrian Beltre (0.366 in 112 at-bats)
  2. Asdrubal Cabrera (0.361 in 169 at-bats)
  3. Miguel Cabrera (0.352 in 162 at-bats)
  4. Joe Mauer (0.351 in 191 at-bats)
  5. Robinson Cano (0.322 in 115 at-bats)
  6. Derek Jeter (0.320 in 278 at-bats)
  7. Mark Trumbo (0.320 in 25 at-bats)
  8. Billy Butler (0.314 in 1437 at-bats)
  9. Curtis Granderson (0.288 in 198 at-bats)
  10. Josh Hamilton (0.265 in 49 at-bats)

Because home runs would logically occur more often with those with more chances, let’s look at slugging percentage.  Here, three of the players with the best batting averages — Miguel Cabrera (0.593…first), Beltre (0.589…second), and Asdrubral Cabrera (0.527…fourth) — reappear.  The bottom see familiar names (Wieters, Dunn, Fielder), as well as Rangers’ teammates Josh Hamilton and Elvis Andrus.

  1. M. Cabrera (0.593)
  2. Beltre (0.589)
  3. Granderson (0.535)
  4. A. Cabrera (0.527)
  5. Trumbo (0.520)

As for the other stats, Butler naturally has the most home runs (48), followed by Paul Konerko (16) and Granderson (10).  The inclusion of Konerko and Granderson make sense consider the former plays in the AL Central with the Chicago White Sox (same division as the Royals) while the latter used to play for the AL Central Detroit Tigers.  Konerko is also second in RBIs (70) and runs (49) at Kauffman, while Mauer (Twins are also in the AL Central) is third in RBIs (41); Jeter is third in runs scores (44).

In terms of pitching, only Yu Darvish of the Rangers has yet to pitch in Kansas City.  Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price and Oakland Athletics’ reliever Ryan Cook both have only one appearance at Kauffman Stadium…both in relief.

As for players with more than one appearance, Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson sports a 0.00 ERA in four appearances, including two saves and one win.  He also has the best WHIP (0.77) and lowest batting average against (0.118).  Justin Verlander of the Tigers has the most wins (13), losses (9), complete games (2), innings pitched (88.1), walks (26), strikeouts (78), and has the only shutout among AL pitchers.  Rangers’ closer Joe Nathan — a former member of the Twins — has the most saves (18), blown saves (4), and surrendered the most home runs (3).  Orioles closer Jim Johnson has the worst ERA among AL pitchers — 7.45 in 9.2 innings.

  • National League

Again, lack of games played by NL teams in Kansas City is going to play a role in the stats.  Only Beltran and Melky Cabrera have significant experience in the AL — both were once members of the Royals, while Cabrera also played for the Yankees.

For others, stats are significantly affected by one good series in KC…or one bad series. Additionally, only 13 of the 21 NL All-Stars have played at Kauffman Stadium.  The list of those that have not played include Chipper Jones.  What is amazing about the fact that Jones has not played in Kansas City is that the nineteen-year veteran has played in every current MLB stadium, with the exception of Kauffman Stadium!  That will, of course, change come Tuesday, albeit in an exhibition game.

Four of the five best batting averages for NL All-Stars have had fewer than 45 at-bats.  The Chicago Cubs’ Starlin Castro (0.417) and thirteen-year veteran Rafael Furcal, currently with the St. Louis Cardinals (0.300) have only played three games at Kauffman Stadium.  The other two — David Freese and Matt Holliday — also play for the Cardinals, a team that annually plays the Royals in an interdivisional rivalry.  The fifth best batting average belongs to former Royal Beltran, who is also currently with the Cardinals.  Bryan LaHair of the Cubs and Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies are the only two NL All-Stars with plate appearances at Kauffman to not have a hit [both have only played in one game at KC].

  1. Starlin Castro (0.417 in 12 at-bats)
  2. David Freese (0.364 in 22 at-bats)
  3. Matt Holliday (0.357 in 42 at-bats)
  4. Rafael Furcal (0.300 in 10 at-bats)
  5. Carlos Beltran (0.299 in 1568 at-bats)
  6. Melky Cabrera (0.289 in 370 at-bats)
  7. Ryan Braun (0.286 in 14 at-bats)
  8. Carlos Ruiz (0.250 in 4 at-bats)
  9. Jay Bruce (0.182 in 11 at-bats)
  10. Dan Uggla (0.182 in 11 at-bats)

In terms of slugging percentage, familiar names once again creep to the top, with Holliday (0.643…first) and Beltran (0.491…fourth) in the top five.  The bottom will obviously include Gonzalez and LaHair.

  1. Holliday (0.643)
  2. Braun (0.500)
  3. Ruiz (0.500)
  4. Beltran (0.491)
  5. Cabrera (0.424)

Excluding the two players to have played for Kansas City — Beltran (61 HRs; 276 RBIs) and Cabrera (8 HRs; 49 RBIs) — Holliday has the most home runs (3) and RBIs (11).  And while Holliday also has the most “non-Royal” runs scored (10), his Cardinal teammate Furcal has an impressive five runs scored (fourth-most) in only 10 at-bats.

NL pitching performances at Kauffman Stadium are also rare as only seven have actually pitched there, three of which doing so only once (Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants; Lance Lynn of the Cardinals; and Wade Miley of the Arizona Diamondbacks).  Those with multiple appearances have all done so with American League teams (R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets, Gio Gonzalez of the Washington Nationals, Jonathan Papelbon of the Philadelphia Phillies, and Huston Street of the San Diego Padres).  Of these five, Papelbon has the “best” ERA at 3.52.  The other four have ERAs over 5.00!!!  Lynn has the worst overall ERA (10.13), though in only one appearance (5.1 innings).  Gonzalez has the most strikeouts (15), walks (11), wins (2), and losses (2), as well as innings pitched (20).  Papelbon (3) and Street (1) are the only NL pitchers with saves at Kauffman Stadium.

POST ALL-STAR BREAK STATS of ALL-STARS

  • American League

To be more straight forward, we will just list the stats with a few comments.  Here are the top five best batting averages after the All-Star break:

  1. Joe Mauer (0.323)
  2. Robinson Cano (0.322)
  3. Derek Jeter (0.321)
  4. Miguel Cabrera (0.318)
  5. Josh Hamilton (0.313)

And the bottom five:

  1. Mike Trout (0.228)
  2. Mark Trumbo (0.236)
  3. Jose Bautista (0.238)
  4. Adam Dunn (0.241)
  5. Adam Jones (0.259)

It is fair to note that Trout has only appeared in 37 games after the break, while Trumbo has appeared in 73 games.

If we look at other numbers, David Ortiz has the most post-All-Star home runs (197), RBIs (627), and walks (497), while Derek Jeter has the most runs scored (866) and hits (1482).  Jeter also has the most post-break stolen bases (797).  But these numbers are reflective of the long careers of these two players.  What if we break it down by game or by at-bat? If we do it that way, Prince Fielder has the best home run average, hitting one out every 15.2 at-bats in post-All-Star games.  This is followed by Mike Napoli (15.5), David Ortiz (15.8), Adam Dunn (16.98), and Jose Bautista (17.9).  Those with post-break power outages include Elvis Andrus (one home run every 151.4 at-bats), Asdrubal Cabrera (44.6), Joe Mauer (43.2), Derek Jeter (40.5), and Adam Jones (29).  Miguel Cabrera has the best RBI rate (one RBI for every 4.9 at-bats), while Jeter has the best run scored rate (one per 5.3 at-bats).

Adam Dunn has an interesting average, as he has the best walk rate (one for every 5.2 at-bats), but the worst strikeout rate (one for every 3.1 at-bats).  The best strikeout rate belongs to Mauer (9.62) while the worst walk rate is Mark Trumbo’s 25.8.  Finally, Elvis Andrus has the best stolen base rate (once every 5.4 games).

As for pitchers, Chris Sale has the best ERA (2.02) and WHIP (0.93), though those numbers are derived from his time as a reliever.  It will be interesting to see how his numbers hold now that he is a starter for the White Sox.  The best ERA from a player with previous post-break starting experience is Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners (3.19); David Price has the best WHIP (1.18).  Worst starter is Matt Harrison (4.65 ERA; 1.47 WHIP).  The best reliever (other than Sale) is Chris Perez (2.65 ERA) and Joe Nathan (1.05 WHIP).  Worst reliever is Ryan Cook (7.04 ERA; 2.48 WHIP), though that is from his one season pitching with the Diamondbacks.

As for averages, Justin Verlander has the best strikeout rate (6.2 per game) while Chris Sale has the best walk rate (0.4 per game).  Of course, Sale’s numbers are once again explained by his previous role as a relieve pitcher (former reliever-turned starter C.J. Wilson also has a low walk rate).  If we take away Sale and Wilson, Harrison has the lowest walk rate (1.3).  Among relievers, Jim Johnson has the best strikeout and walk rates.  C.J. Wilson has the best win rate among starters (67 percent of his starts turn into wins), with Jared Weaver sporting the worst (42 percent).  Nathan has the best save rate per game appearance (48 percent).

All of these numbers exclude Yu Darvish, who has yet to pitch post-break in the MLB.

  • National League

Again, just the stats first; best batting average…

  1. Ryan Braun (0.318)
  2. Matt Holliday (0.316)*
  3. Pablo Sandoval (0.316)*
  4. Starlin Castro (0.314)
  5. Chipper Jones (0.312)
* – Holliday’s average is slightly better than Sandoval’s average.

And the bottom five batting averages:

  1. Bryan LaHair (0.262)^
  2. Andrew McCrutchen (0.262)^
  3. Dan Uggla (0.263)
  4. Jay Bruce (0.264)
  5. Buster Posey (0.273)

^ – LaHair’s batting average is slightly worse than that of McCrutchen.

Not surprisingly, Chipper Jones has the most post-break home runs (209), RBIs (690), runs scored (717), hits (1188), walks (656) and strikeouts (583).  Carlos Beltran has the most stolen bases (144), followed closely by Rafael Furcal (140).  But, the same warning above applies here; more season equal more stats! Looking at averages, Jay Bruce has the best home run average (one homer every 16.2 at-bats), followed by Ryan Braun (16.5), Carlos Gonzalez (17.61), Dan Uggla (17.64), and Joey Votto (17.8).  Matt Holliday has the best RBI rate (one RBI every 5.0 at-bats), while Gonzalez has the best runs scored average (once per 5.2 at-bats).  Speedsters Michael Bourn (one homer every 242 post-break at-bats) and Jose Altuve (one RBI every 18.4; one run scored per 8.5 at-bats) are at the bottom of the list.

Like Yu Darvish, Washington Nationals rookie Bryce Harper has no post-break experience and is therefore not included here.

Turning to pitchers, Lance Lynn has the best ERA among starters (2.03), though he achieved this as a reliever last season (he was promoted to starter this season).  Among previous starters, Clayton Kershaw has the best post-break ERA (2.53) while Stephen Strasburg has the best WHIP (0.95).  Wade Miley has the worst post-break ERA (4.50).  R.A. Dickey has the second-worst ERA (4.40), which he will hope to avoid following that trend this season.  Gio Gonzalez has the worst WHIP (1.42).

Among relievers, Craig Kimbrel has a stellar 1.25 ERA and 0.99 WHIP, achieved last season.  Pittsburgh Pirates’ closer Joel Hanrahan has the worst ERA for relievers (3.65).

Finally, in terms of averages, Kershaw has the best strikeout rate (6.2 per game).  In fact, Matt Cain, Gonzalez, Cole Hamels, and Strasburg all have averages over 5 strikeouts per game after the All-Star Game.  The best reliever K-rate belongs to Craig Kimbrel (1.8 per game).  Best starter walk rate is Stephen Strasburg (0.8 per game), though former reliever Lynn is slightly better (0.7 per game).  Street has the best walk rate for relievers (0.28 per game).

Lastly, Miley has the best win percentage in terms of starts (winning 57 percent of his starts), followed by Gonzalez (44 percent).  Though, it is worth noting that Papelbon has a 400 percent win rate per start, but many of those wins come from his role as a reliever rather than his actual three starts.  The worst win rate belongs to Strasburg (30 percent).  The best save rate belongs to Papelbon (48 percent of appearances).

So, there you go.  Below are Excel files containing the All-Stars and their stats.  Omitted are those players with injuries and will not participate in the All-Star Game.  While our stats are derived from other sources (namely Yahoo! Sports), we would appreciate credit if you choose to use the files and organized stats below.

All Stars at Kauffman Stadium

Post All Stars

NOTE: there are different tabs in each file.  The tab that is active upon opening has a drop-down menu (“Player”) where you can quickly pull up the stats for a given player — either Batter or Pitcher.  These are sorted by League, as well.  The other tabs just list the players in alphabetical order with their respective stats.