The other day, we hinted of some big announcements that would be hitting this site in March. The first comes today as we are pleased to announce that Nick Scott of Broken Bat Single will be joining Royals Authority. Hopefully, you’re familiar with excellent work Nick has done at his own site. The position reviews he did this winter and the corresponding heat charts was some of the best Royals analysis offered during the hot stove season. He brings some serious analytical skills to Royals Authority and will be a great addition. We’re pleased to have him on board.
Join us in welcoming Nick. His debut post follows…
There has been lots of gnashing of teeth and bucket loads of digital ink spent in regards to the Jason Kendall signing. In the past, Dayton Moore has suggested that fans are just not smart enough to understand the subtle genius behind some of his moves. I have to say, I didn’t really believe that there was a good reason for making many of the moves. On the surface, they made no sense. Like most fans and members of the media, I dismissed the signing of Jason Kendall immediately.
Any guy in his mother’s basement could tell you that Kendall hasn’t hit above .250 since 2006, or that he is 36 years old, or that he hasn’t had an OPS+ over 100 since 2004. That’s all easily looked up on the internet. However, the Royals general manager is not some guy in his mother’s basement. He is a highly intelligent baseball man who has to balance the sometimes conflicting ideas of making his owner more money and helping the team on the field win more games. Not only does he have to think about the runs and RBIs a guy creates, but also how many fans he can get to fill the seats in an effort to release more cash from the tight fisted owner.
When you look at the signing of Jason Kendall through that lens, the signing makes a lot more sense. How? Well, remember when Barry Bonds was chasing a certain home run record? Did you see many empty seats in San Francisco that year? Nope. How about the day that legendary Orioles SS Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig’s iron man record? The stands were packed, right? It was a windfall for the owners of those clubs and brought in much needed resources that could have been spent to acquire talent on the free agent market.
So you are still asking: Mr. Blog man, what are you talking about? Well, let me tell you a story. It’s a story about one of the oldest records in baseball, a record that has stood for over 100 years. It’s a record that is held by a Hall of Famer named Hughie Jennings, a guy who managed Ty Cobb. It’s a record that in its pursuit Jennings was rendered unconscious for 3 days. It’s a record that Jason Kendall has a shot at surpassing, and it is surely the genesis behind his signing.
I am talking about the storied hit-by-pitch record of 287 held by Hughie Jennings. That magical number of 287 which is forever etched in the hearts and minds of baseball fans everywhere. Right now Jason Kendall is sitting in 5th all time with 248. The man is simply prolific at not getting out of the way of pitches coming directly at him. Since Kendall is signed for 2 years, he only needs 20 HBP each of the next two seasons to surpass the historic mark and he has been hit with 20 or more pitches in 5 different seasons. Now, granted Kendall isn’t getting plunked at the rate he was in the past, but he did get hit 17 times last season. I also have to imagine that when he gets close to the record, his instincts will step in and he will get back to his old ways of not avoiding baseballs coming in his direction.
Just think of the fans that will pack the stadium night after night in hopes that they will see HBP 288. The Royals are not likely to be playoff bound in the next season or two, so every extra fan that buys a ticket in hopes of seeing number 288 will be one extra fan to help the bottom line of the ballclub. It could be the few extra dollars that allow Dayton Moore to bring in the next Jose Guillen or Yasuhiko Yabuta to help this team compete in the future. In exactly the same way that fans packed Giants stadium in 2007 and made it a playoff atmosphere for a team that was 20 games under .500, Kendall can bring fans back to the K. And just like the Giants parlayed that revenue into a huge free agent signing with Barry Zito, so could the Royals.
Nick blogs and podcasts about the Royals at Broken Bat Single and welcomes feedback via Twitter (@brokenbatsingle) and e-mail (brokenbatsingle [AT] gmail [DOT] com)/