KSAL Staff - July 25, 2016 8:00 am
MAC STEVENSON LIVES IN SALINA, AND WRITES A WEEKLY COLUMN FOR OVER TEN NEWSPAPERS IN KANSAS
The Kansas City Royals’ hitters swing at more pitches that are well out of the strike zone than any other team in Major League Baseball. And this lack of focus and concentration has been a major weakness of Royals’ baseball ever since Ned Yost became manager.
This is a disastrous flaw; it’s not just one or two players, almost all of KC’s hitters are guilty. But the everyday players who are the most flagrant offenders are Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, Salvy Perez, Kendrys Morales, and Alex Gordon. That’s five of nine regulars who consistently refuse to be selective on which pitches they try to hit. Royals’ hitters let pitches go that are right down the middle and then strike out swinging at balls they can’t even reach.
Yost sits in the dugout—looking like a wooden statue—and watches the hitters get themselves out time after time by swinging at bad pitches. He never even changes his expression.
Yost and his hitting coach, Dave Sveum, need to do away with the nice- guy persona and start chewing on these Royals’ hitters who are not performing like professionals—it amounts to unacceptable behavior. It would be enlightening to know how pleasant the late, great Brooklyn manager Leo Durocher would have been to his players if they had developed this ridiculous approach to hitting. Durocher was known for a famous quote: “Nice guys finish last.” KC isn’t last, but they sure aren’t playing like champions and Yost and Sveum need to get in the face of the bad-ball hitters.
Kansas City isn’t going to make the playoffs; the ballclub is coming apart and there’s no answer to their dire straits. And what’s equally troubling is that many of the Royals’ key players are close to free agent status. KC’s minor league talent has declined and the future is not promising. The 2015 World Series champions are quickly becoming “old news”.
Kansas State placed an astounding four players on the Big 12’s preseason All-Big 12 defensive team. Selections were made by media representatives that cover Big 12 football.
Four Wildcats were named to the first team: defensive linemen Will Geary (Jr 6-0, 297) and Jordan Willis (Sr 6-5, 250); linebacker Elijah Lee (Jr 6-3, 218); and free safety Dante Barnett (Sr 6-1, 193). On offense, fullback Winston Dimel (So 6-1, 235) also made the first team.
K-State had a substandard 2015 season (6-7) and an inept defense, not up to the standards established by Coach Bill Snyder during his long tenure at Kansas State. But that didn’t keep the people who should know from picking four Wildcats on the first-team defense for 2016. K-State’s defense has the talent to be greatly improved this fall.
Preseason media polls don’t always prove to be an accurate forecast of what’s going to happen; nevertheless, Kansas State fans are justifiably encouraged by the prospect of a quality Big 12 defensive unit. Fall practice begins on August 4 for the Wildcats.
Kansas University begins fall practice and their second season under Coach David Beaty on August 2. Progress for a program that was so down when Beaty took over is gradual at best, but the Jayhawks will be better in 2016.
Quarterback is at the top of the list of most important individual positions; however, the offensive line is the main unit. In 2015 Beaty had to play inexperienced true freshmen and sophomores who had redshirted—the result was a substandard OL.
This fall KU will field an improved OL—how much better than 2015 remains to be seen. The preseason depth chart for starters includes the following: LT Jordan Shelley-Smith (Sr 6-5, 302), LG Jacob Bragg (So 6-4, 291), C Joe Gibson (Jr 6-3, 310), RG D’Andre Banks (Sr 6-3, 310), RT Clyde McCauley III (So 6-5, 307), and TE Ben Johnson (Jr 6-5, 245). One of the top backups for either tackle slot is Larry Hughes (So 6-7, 309).
OL coach Zach Yenser thinks his unit will be improved, but he said, “We’re still young and we’ve still got a long way to go.” That’s undoubtedly true, but the OL is not as young as 2015 and they don’t have as far to go.
Quality depth is the major issue up and down KU’s lineup, but it’s most important on the offensive line. This season’s starters have some maturity and experience and talent, but what about the reserves in case of injuries? The guess here is that Kansas will show more improvement on the OL than any other position group. But all predictions about KU football must include the following caveat: “if” numerous injuries don’t occur.
The college season is close and thankfully the players don’t swing at bad pitches on the football field.