The Royals Broke All the Rules (And Won) | Baseball Bits

Foolish Baseball
21 Apr 202215:30
EducationalLearning
32 Likes 10 Comments

TLDRThe video script explores the unique winning formula of the Kansas City Royals during their 2014-2015 World Series victories. It delves into their unconventional approach to baseball, which included a high-contact, high-steal strategy that defied the statcast era's focus on home runs and strikeouts. The Royals' exceptional defense, led by players like Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain, and their innovative use of a 'mega bullpen' featuring pitchers like Wade Davis, Greg Holland, and Kelvin Herrera, set them apart. The script challenges the homogeneity of modern baseball strategies and suggests that there are diverse paths to success, as evidenced by the Royals' scrappy, efficient style and their ability to win with a lower payroll.

Takeaways
  • 🏆 Winning baseball teams typically have good pitching and hitting, which allows them to score more runs than their opponents.
  • 🌟 The 1987 Twins and the 2014-2015 Kansas City Royals were exceptions to the norm, winning championships with unconventional strategies.
  • 🚫 The Royals were not focused on power hitting or home runs, which contrasts with the 'launch angle' and 'exit velocity' emphasized in the Statcast era.
  • 📈 Statcast, introduced in 2015, popularized new baseball metrics but the Royals did not initially embody its values.
  • 📊 The 'three true outcome' baseball, which includes home runs, walks, and strikeouts, saw accelerated growth post-Statcast, but the Royals had one of the lowest rates.
  • ⚾ The correlation between three true outcome percentage or strikeout rate and winning games is not significant.
  • 🔨 Home runs have a moderate correlation with winning games, as they are run-scoring plays.
  • 🏃 The Royals excelled in base stealing and efficient base running, which was a significant part of their strategy.
  • 🛡️ Exceptional defense, particularly in the outfield, was a hallmark of the Royals' success, with players like Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain leading the way.
  • 💉 The Royals' bullpen was a key to their success, with pitchers like Wade Davis, Greg Holland, and Kelvin Herrera being pivotal.
  • 💸 Despite their success, the Royals never had one of the highest payrolls, which led to a state of perpetual roster churn and prevented a dynasty.
Q & A
  • What is the common characteristic of winning baseball teams mentioned in the script?

    -Winning baseball teams usually have good pitching and hitting, which allows them to score more runs than their opponents.

  • Why is the 1987 Twins team mentioned as an exception to the usual characteristics of winning teams?

    -The 1987 Twins won the World Series with a negative run differential during the regular season, which is unusual for a winning team.

  • What is the significance of the Kansas City Royals' back-to-back World Series wins in 2014 and 2015?

    -The Kansas City Royals were portrayed as a scrappy, throwback team that won two pennants and a World Series without embodying the values of the Statcast era, suggesting a unique winning formula.

  • What is the Statcast era, and how did it change baseball?

    -The Statcast era began in 2015 with the introduction of a high-speed camera system that popularized new metrics like launch angle, exit velocity, and spin rate, changing the way baseball is analyzed and played.

  • How did the Houston Astros adopt Statcast values differently compared to the Royals?

    -The Astros pitchers threw over 1400 high spin curveballs and focused on acquiring players with high Statcast metrics, unlike the Royals who combined to throw only 68 such pitches.

  • What is 'three true outcome baseball' and how did it grow in the Statcast era?

    -Three true outcome baseball refers to home runs, walks, and strikeouts. The rate of this type of play grew significantly between 2014 and 2019, coinciding with the Statcast era.

  • Why were the Kansas City Royals an outlier in terms of 'three true outcome baseball' during their championship years?

    -The Royals had a 24.3% three true outcome rate, which was significantly lower than other teams, making them a massive outlier in this aspect of the game.

  • What is the correlation between home runs and winning in baseball?

    -There is a moderate correlation between home runs and winning, as home runs are run-scoring plays and runs are synonymous with wins.

  • How did the Kansas City Royals' approach to base running differ from other teams?

    -The Royals were aggressive base runners, leading the MLB in steals during their pennant years and stealing with high efficiency.

  • What is unique about the Kansas City Royals' outfield defense during their championship years?

    -The Royals had an exceptional outfield defense with players like Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Jarrod Dyson, who were among the top in defensive metrics, making them arguably the greatest defensive outfield ever assembled.

  • How did the Kansas City Royals' bullpen contribute to their success, and what was unique about it?

    -The Royals' bullpen, featuring Wade Davis, Greg Holland, and Kelvin Herrera, was highly effective with ERAs under one and a half, contributing significantly to their playoff success and demonstrating the value of a strong bullpen.

  • Why weren't the Kansas City Royals able to establish a long-term dynasty despite their success?

    -The Royals never had a high opening day payroll, which led to a state of perpetual roster churn as key players like Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer left for other teams after their contracts expired.

  • What does the term 'Royal Ball' represent in the context of the Kansas City Royals' style of play?

    -'Royal Ball' represents a rebellion against homogeneity in baseball, combining a high-contact, high-stolen base approach with elite defense and a strong bullpen, offering a unique way to win a World Series.

Outlines
00:00
🏆 The Winning Formula of Baseball Teams

This paragraph discusses the characteristics of successful baseball teams, emphasizing the importance of good pitching and hitting to score more runs. It highlights the unusual case of the 1987 Twins who won the World Series despite a negative run differential. The paragraph also questions whether stealing bases or hitting home runs are key to winning, referencing Babe Ruth's power hitting and the trade-offs it involves, such as increased strikeouts which are detrimental to scoring. The 2014 and 2015 Kansas City Royals are introduced as a team that defied norms, winning two pennants and a World Series without relying on power hitting or stealing bases. The introduction of the Statcast era and its impact on baseball is also mentioned, suggesting that it has led to a focus on launch angle, exit velocity, and spin rate, which may not necessarily correlate with winning. The Royals are portrayed as a team with a distinct identity that played a specific style of baseball, contrasting with the analytical approach of teams like the Houston Astros.

05:02
🚀 The Kansas City Royals' Unconventional Success

The second paragraph delves into the Kansas City Royals' surprising success during their 2014 and 2015 championship runs. It points out that the Royals were not focused on the 'three true outcomes' of home runs, walks, and strikeouts, which were becoming increasingly popular in the Statcast era. Instead, they had a remarkably low rate of these outcomes, making them a significant outlier compared to other teams. The Royals' strategy involved fewer strikeouts, walks, and home runs, which is suggested as a potential model for other teams to consider. The paragraph also discusses the correlation between home runs and wins, indicating that while there are exceptions, hitting home runs is generally beneficial for a team's success. The Royals' unique approach to baseball, including their lack of reliance on power hitting, is contrasted with the prevailing trends in the sport.

10:02
⚾️ The Royals' Aggressive Base Running and Defensive Prowess

This paragraph highlights the Kansas City Royals' aggressive base running and exceptional defense as key components of their success. Memorable moments from their playoff games are recounted, such as the 2014 wild card game against the Oakland Athletics and Game 5 of the 2015 World Series. The Royals' base running is characterized by steals and daring plays, with players like Gerard Dyson and Terrence Gore exemplifying this aggressive style. The paragraph also discusses the Royals' defensive capabilities, particularly in their outfield, with Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Dyson forming a highly effective defensive unit. The Royals' defensive excellence is contrasted with the modern focus on metrics like Outs Above Average, and it is suggested that their success was not just a product of their offense but also their strong defense.

15:02
🔥 The Impact of the Royals' Mega Bullpen and Financial Constraints

The final paragraph examines the Kansas City Royals' bullpen, which played a crucial role in their success during the mid-2010s. It discusses the performances of key bullpen pitchers like Wade Davis, Greg Holland, and Kelvin Herrera, who contributed significantly to the team's victories. The Royals are credited with demonstrating the value of a strong bullpen, a strategy that has since been adopted by other teams. The paragraph also addresses the financial constraints that the Royals faced, which ultimately prevented them from maintaining their success as a dynasty. Despite their achievements, the team could not retain key players like Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer, who left for more lucrative contracts elsewhere. The Royals' story is presented as a rebellion against the homogeneity of modern baseball and a testament to the fact that there are multiple paths to winning a World Series.

Mindmap
Keywords
💡Winning Baseball Team
A winning baseball team is characterized by a combination of skills and strategies that lead to success on the field. In the video, it is suggested that while good pitching and hitting are often key, as they help a team score more runs than their opponents, there are exceptions to this rule, such as the 1987 Twins who won the World Series with a negative run differential. The concept is central to the video's exploration of what constitutes a winning formula in baseball.
💡Run Differential
Run differential refers to the difference between the number of runs a team scores and the number of runs they allow their opponents to score. It is traditionally seen as an indicator of a team's strength. The video mentions the 1987 Twins as an anomaly, having won the World Series despite a negative run differential during the regular season, challenging the conventional wisdom about this statistic.
💡Kansas City Royals
The Kansas City Royals are a professional baseball team that serves as a central example in the video. The team won two pennants and a World Series in 2014 and 2015, respectively, playing a specific brand of baseball that the video refers to as 'Royal Ball.' Their success is analyzed in terms of various factors such as base stealing, defense, and bullpen management, which contributed to their winning formula.
💡Statcast Era
The Statcast Era refers to the period in baseball history following the introduction of the Statcast system in 2015, which uses high-speed cameras to collect and analyze data on player performance. The video discusses how this era has influenced the game, popularizing terms like 'launch angle' and 'exit velocity,' and how it contrasts with the Royals' approach to the game prior to Statcast's influence.
💡Three True Outcomes
Three True Outcomes in baseball are home runs, walks, and strikeouts. The video notes that the rate at which these outcomes occur has grown significantly since the introduction of Statcast, and it contrasts this with the Kansas City Royals' strategy, which was a significant outlier with a much lower rate of Three True Outcomes during their championship years.
💡Base Stealing
Base stealing is the act of a player on base attempting to advance to the next base without the benefit of a hit or an error. The video highlights the Kansas City Royals' emphasis on base stealing as a key part of their strategy, leading the league in steals and demonstrating efficiency in this aspect of the game, which contributed to their success.
💡Bullpen
A bullpen refers to the group of relief pitchers who are available to enter the game after the starting pitcher is removed. The video discusses the importance of the Royals' bullpen, particularly the performances of Wade Davis, Greg Holland, and Kelvin Herrera, who played crucial roles in the team's playoff runs and championships.
💡Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP)
FIP is a pitching metric that measures the effectiveness of a pitcher by focusing on aspects of their performance that are largely independent of factors like defense, such as strikeouts, walks, and home runs allowed. The video suggests that while defense is important, FIP indicates that it cannot compensate for poor pitching, emphasizing the balance needed between pitching and defense for a winning team.
💡Outfield Defense
Outfield defense pertains to the defensive capabilities of the players in the outfield positions. The video points out the exceptional outfield defense of the Kansas City Royals, particularly the trio of Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Jarrod Dyson, who were instrumental in the team's success with their ability to cover the large outfield of Kaufman Stadium and make significant defensive plays.
💡Base Running Aggression
Base running aggression describes a team's approach to taking risks and being proactive on the base paths. The video highlights the Royals' aggressive base running as a distinguishing feature of their play style, which included not only stealing bases but also making smart and swift decisions to advance and score runs, contributing to their overall success.
💡Mega Bullpen
A mega bullpen refers to a team's strategy of heavily relying on their relief pitchers, particularly their most effective ones, to secure victories. The video discusses how the Kansas City Royals exemplified this concept with their 'triumvirate' of pitchers, which was a key factor in their championship runs and has since become a more widespread strategy in baseball.
Highlights

Winning baseball teams typically have good pitching and hitting, allowing them to score more runs than their opponents.

The 1987 Twins won the World Series with a negative run differential, showing exceptions to the usual winning formula.

Hitting home runs is beneficial for scoring runs, but strikeouts can be detrimental.

The 2014 and 2015 Kansas City Royals won two pennants and a World Series with a unique, scrappy style of play.

Statcast, introduced in 2015, changed baseball's vocabulary with metrics like launch angle, exit velocity, and spin rate.

The Houston Astros embraced Statcast values, focusing on high spin curveballs and other analytics.

The Kansas City Royals were arguably the last great team before Statcast significantly influenced the game.

The Royals had a low three true outcome rate, differing from the league's trend during the Statcast era.

In 2014, the Royals hit only 95 home runs, a stark contrast to the power-hitting trend in baseball.

The Royals' success was not tied to the three true outcome percentage or strikeout rate.

Home runs have a moderate correlation with winning, as they are run-scoring plays.

The Royals' approach to baseball was high contact and high stolen bases, a contrast to the power-hitting trend.

The Royals were efficient base stealers, leading the MLB in weighted stolen bases during their pennant years.

Memorable base running plays were a hallmark of the Royals' playoff runs, contributing to their success.

The Royals' outfield, including Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Jarrod Dyson, was one of the best in MLB history for defensive value.

Good defense is timeless and does not rely on modern or old-school methods.

Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) shows that defense cannot make up for poor pitching.

The Royals' bullpen, featuring Wade Davis, Greg Holland, and Kelvin Herrera, was a key to their success.

The Royals' bullpen strategy has influenced modern baseball, with teams focusing on high-leverage relief pitching.

Despite their success, the Royals never had a high payroll, leading to roster turnover and the end of their dominance.

The Royals represented a rebellion against the homogeneity of modern baseball and showcased diverse ways to win.

Transcripts
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