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Royal Blues


June 2, 2010 6:07 PM

The ORoyals in May

Team candid 01.JPGIt's June now, which means all the May numbers are cemented in the books for the Omaha Royals. Let's look at how our boys did last month - when the team as a whole compiled a 17-11 record and never lost more than two in a row.

May's monster wins:
The O-Royals had a handful of games in which they not only won, they flat-out destroyed their opponent.

May 11 @ Reno: Omaha won 10-2
Winning pitcher: Gaby Hernandez
Big bats: Marc Maddox and Wilson Betemit each piled up four hits. Betemit drove in four runs. Alex Gordon homered.
Also significant: This was Blake Wood's final game in an Omaha uniform before being called up.

May 15 @ Las Vegas: Omaha won 15-1

Winning pitcher: Luis Mendoza,
Superb relief: Federico Casteneda and Josh Rupe combined for four 1-hit innings
Big bats: Pretty much everyone. Jordan Parraz hit 3 doubles, Gordon doubled twice, Scott Thorman homered. Parraz, David Lough and Irving Falu each had four hits.

May 18 @ Las Vegas: Omaha won 17-5
Winning pitcher: Anthony Lerew, but he was sloppy.
Bullpen stars: Greg Holland and Casteneda combined to allow zero runs in four innings
Big bats: Parraz hit four doubles and a home run. In terms of raw hitting ability, this seems more impressive than a cycle. Falu, Gordon, Jai Miller and Ed Lucas each added three hits.

May 26 vs. Colorado Springs: Omaha won 8-1
Winning pitcher: Mendoza
Relieved by: Matt Herges, Holland and Rupe gave up just one unearned run in their 3 total innings
Big bats: Lough had four hits - if one of his singles had been a double, he would have hit for the cyle - and Parraz had three hits.
Also significant: Kurt Mertins hit his first Triple-A home run.

May 29 vs. Round Rock: Omaha won 9-0
Winning pitcher: Lerew was superb, walking zero and striking out five in his 6 shutout innings.
Big bats: Kila Ka'aihue homered and walked twice. Ed Lucas contributed three hits, including a double.
Also significant: Disco Hayes returned from the *cough* DL, after suffering from what I believe was a case of "taking up too much room on the roster." Lucas also miraculously recovered from a similar ailment on the same day.

May 30 vs. Round Rock: Omaha won 10-2
Winning pitcher: Philip Humber
Big bats: SIX ORoyals homered: Ka'aihue, Gordon, Thorman, Lough, Miller and Lucas. Ka'aihue and Miller also doubled.
Also significant: Omaha pitchers did not walk anyone. More on this in a moment.

What can we learn about the team from their big wins?
1) Lots of ORoyals had excellent months at the plate individually.

We've already looked at most of Jordan Parraz's impressive May. His final line for the month was .353/.500(!!)/.506. Ten of his 30 hits were doubles, but he only homered once. Still, for a guy who was as hacky as Parraz was in April, a .500 OBP over an entire month is astonishing. He's been unstoppable when ahead in the count, so continuing to lay off that first pitch will be critical.

David Lough also improved in his 2nd month at Triple-A, assembling a line of .290/.320/.470 for the month. Lough may not have head-turning speed like fellow prospects Irving Falu or Derrick Robinson, but he's quick enough on the bases to lead the team - and be tied for 2nd in the league - in triples. And as I've gushed about at least a dozen times, his range in the outfield is breathtaking. 

Kila Ka'aihue is still here, for some stupid reason. Despite sitting on the KC bench for a while, Kila still leads the PCL in walks - and is just one shy of the International League's top walker, who has played in 15 more games than Kila. Ka'aihue's .503 OBP leads the league by a comfortable margin, although he would have competition in Alex Gordon for the top spot if Gordon had more Triple-A PAs. Ka'aihue's May line was .378/.576/.711.

Batting next to Ka'aihue in the Omaha lineup is Alex Gordon, who would be back up in the Majors quite soon if I were in charge. His May OBP was actually below .500, but overall he's still above that mark. It's just insulting to keep him here much longer - he's athletic enough to physically play the outfield, and seems to be learning the mental parts of it quite speedily. Gordo's May line was .355/.496/.667.

It's fun for fans, and probably Mike Jirschele, to have Kila and Gordon batting back-to-back, but it's stupid that they're both here. It doesn't take much investigation of the Major League roster to find places where these guys would be an upgrade.

2) Not walking people = WIN WIN WIN
The ORoyals staff went on a streak of 20+ innings where they walked nobody - including that 14-inning win last Friday. Matt Herges finally broke the streak on Saturday, but it's no coincidence that the team is doing well overall while its pitching staff is best in the league at avoiding the free pass. In addition to Friday, the staff had three other games where they walked nobody, and just 70 of their league-lowest 129 total walks came in the month of May. (Yes, that's more than half of their total, but they played six more games in May than in April.)

I would like to reiterate that the Omaha Royals are leading the league with the fewest walks surrendered (and has a league-leading WHIP to go with it!). The next-closest team has 11 more than they do, and the next-closest within our division has 23 more. I believe this will be significant if the divisional race continues to be as tight as it is.

Despite being one of the worst teams in the league at giving up home runs, Omaha still ranks in the top four in fewest earned runs allowed. Imagine how good this staff could be if they'd keep the ball in the park!

Also, the ORoyals are dead last in the league in strikeouts. As we all know, if you can't strike batters out, you'd sure as heck better not be putting them on base via walks.

Wow, this post got rambly in a hurry. I'll focus on some more individual performers soon, and probably rant about Gordon and Ka'aihue some more. And Federico Casteneda deserves some kind of recognition, so he'll get his own post soon too.

Which of the ORoyals impressed YOU the most in May?

 



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