DETROIT — The Kansas City Royals don’t play the Detroit Tigers again until September.That might be the one thing that keeps them from making a postseason run. The Royals extended their winning streak to eight games with a 16-2 rout of the Tigers on Wednesday night. Five of the eight wins have come against the Tigers, who they have outscored 40-10 in the last four games, including a 16-4 win on July 20. “We feel good right now,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It is great that we have an off day tomorrow, but the way we are playing, you kind of wish maybe we could have an off day three or four days from now.” The winning streak is Kansas City’s longest since a nine-game run from Aug. 14-23 last season. “Our offense is giving us so much right now,” Yost said. “They just keep plugging away.” Detroit has lost six of eight as trade rumors swirl around several key players. “That can’t matter unless you actually get traded,” Justin Upton said. “We all know how this game works, so it is pretty unprofessional if that’s hindering anyone’s performance.” Eric Hosmer matched a career high with five hits, including his first grand slam. He had six RBI and scored four runs. “We had a lot of guys who started out rough this year, including me, but now we’re in a good place,” he said. Hosmer entered with 117 homers but had not hit one with the bases loaded until he connected off Warwick Saupold in a nine-run seventh inning. “I think the last grand slam I hit might have been in high school,” he said. “I’m glad to finally get one up here.” Bruce Rondon was ejected with one out in the ninth after hitting Mike Moustakas on the back with a pitch, which caused both benches to empty. Rondon declined to speak to the media after the game. “I think he was trying to hit me,” said Moustakas, who took a couple of steps toward the mound before stopping. “I don’t really understand what happened, but I got hit. I’ve been hit before. It’s not a big deal.” Utilityman Andrew Romine entered in his third big league pitching appearance and faced five batters, allowing a walk, RBI single, sacrifice fly, hit batter and fly out. “You never want to do that, because you are risking a guy’s career,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “Unfortunately, Romie has had to do that before, so he knows not to try to do too much.” Ian Kennedy (4-6) improved to 3-0 in his last six starts, allowing one run and three hits in six innings. Anibal Sanchez (2-1) had his worst start since returning in mid-June from a month-long demotion to the minor leagues. He allowed four runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings. “They just did a great job of hitting,” he said. “Every time they made contact, it wholesale jerseys found a hole, and I wasn’t able to stop them.” Hosmer reached on an infield single in the second, stole second and scored when Alcides Escobar singled on a 66 mph changeup. Kansas City made it 4-0 in the third on run-scoring singles by Jorge Bonifacio, Hosmer and Brandon Moss. Jose Iglesias doubled in Detroit’s first run in the fifth, and Moustakas’ RBI single off Chad Bell sparked the big inning. Hosmer homered on a changeup, a drive over the out-of-town scoreboard, for a 13-1 lead. TRAINER’S ROOM Royals: C Salvador Perez did not play, a day after leaving a game with right-side tightness in his ribs. “Could he have started tonight? Yeah,” Yost said. “In fact, he fought me about it, but with a day off tomorrow, we can give him two full days of rest.” Tigers: LHP Daniel Norris (left groin) had a second MRI on an injury that has sidelined him since the All-Star break. The test showed no further damage. He received a cortisone shot and will rest for several days. ULTIMATE UTILITYMAN Romine has played every position except catcher this season. Ausmus said this week he might let Romine catch an inning on the last day of the season if the Tigers have been eliminated. With a ninth-inning single, Romine became the second player in Comerica Park history to get a hit and pitch in the same game. Shane Halter had four hits on Oct. 1, 2000, a game in which he played all nine positions. UP NEXT Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (12-4, 3.08 ERA) is scheduled to start Friday’s series opener at Boston, which opens with LHP David Price (5-3, 3.82). Tigers: RHP Jordan Zimmermann (6-8, 5.81) is slated to start at home Friday against Houston.
Archive for March, 2017
Bismack Biyombo came to the Orlando Magic with a big contract and big expectations. Through half a season, he has disappointed and failed to live up to expectations.As the Orlando Magic pass the midway point of the 2017 season, there have been some players who have not lived up to the offseason hype. Whether it be new free agent acquisitions or young players who have yet to take the next step in their development, some players have had a rough start to the year. For a team full of expectations, to fall this far short inevitably is going to lead to disappointment and disappointing performances. And no one perhaps has disappointed more so far than the Magic’s biggest acquisition — Bismack Biyombo. After signing a four-year, $72-million contract this past offseason, Biyombo has not been the difference maker that the Magic thought he would be. As the season began, it was clear Biyombo was going to be an important player on this Magic team. Whether he was in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, head coach Frank Vogel needed Biyombo to be a true rim protector. Up to this point, that has not been the case. Biyombo’s defense has been mediocre and there are many who feel that center Nikola Vucevic has been better defensively. This came as a surprise because cheap jerseys China Nikola Vucevic’s biggest weakness has been his defense. Although Biyombo is still a pretty good defender, he is prone to making a lot of mistakes. He plays very aggressively and always goes for blocks. That rim protection, after all, is a big reason why the Magic signed him in the first place. Overplaying for blocks often puts him in the wrong position and allows the other team to crash the offensive glass. This type of play has left Serge Ibaka and other forwards on an island with stronger players. Biyombo’s defensive stats have taken a big hit so far this season. His numbers are down across several defensive metrics when compared to last year. For one, Biyombo’s block numbers are down this season. He has a career-low 1.4 blocks per game. His block rate is down to 4.3 percent, the first time in his career it is worse than five percent. Opponents shoot 50.4 percent at the rim against Biyombo, according to NBA.com. Last year, he gave up 45.2 percent last year and 49.1 percent the year before. Crossing the 50 percent threshhold was not what the Magic had in mind when they added a rim protector like Biyombo. His 3.0 defensive box plus-minus is a career high. He is making a big defensive impact by that metric, at the very least. But several of his box score stats have continued to decrease. Offensively, Biyombo has always struggled. There is no denying if Biyombo scores more than 10 points in a game it is a great performance. Biyombo is scoring the most points in his career (6.5 per game), but he is having his most inefficient season. Biyombo’s usage rate is up from Biyombo is scoring the most points in his career (6.5 per game), but he is having his most inefficient season. Biyombo’s usage rate is up from 11.5 percent last season to 12.5 percent this season. At the same time, his true shooting percentage is down from 58 percent to 52 percent. Biyombo is doing less, with the ball in his hands more. Biyombo is doing less, with the ball in his hands more. Individually, Biyombo’s stats have taken a hit. His game has affected the Magic defense as a whole so far. With his struggles, the Magic have yet to become that top-tier defensive team that many felt they could be this season. Their plans to pair him with another shot blocker in Serge Ibaka have fallen flat. Obviously, the Magic’s struggles do not fall directly on Biyombo’s shoulders. It is clear he leaves his heart out on the floor every night. He plays with as much effort as any player. The talent around Biyombo could explain the drop in numbers from the season prior. Last year, he was playing for a talented Toronto Raptors team. This season, the Magic are not even a playoff team, and he does not have any help on the perimeter. The Magic guards are still unable to help the big men out on the perimeter and it leaves Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo and Nikola Vucevic on an island often. Along with Biyombo, some other players have had a rough go of things this season. He is not the only disappointment. After a promising rookie season, Mario Hezonja barely saw the floor the first half of the year and has appeared to have made little to no development in the offseason. Things are starting to turn around for Mario Hezonja. At such a young age, it is hard to label him as the biggest disappointment. Jeff Green has also played poorly for the Magic this season. Jeff Green has not done much positive for the Magic on either side of the ball. At least not consistently. Many people who follow the team scratch their head as to why Vogel trusts him so much. He has been frustrating to watch so far this season. He definitely cracks the list for disappointing performances. With a big contract in tow and a team that was supposed to be elite defensively, Biyombo is the biggest disappointment for the Magic through 41 games. Orlando still has time to turn the season around. But players who have failed to live up to preseason expectations will have to step up.
Reggie Bullock remembers the first time he saw Avery cheap jerseys Bradley.Both were college prospects and Bullock recalls being impressed by a certain aspect of Bradley’s game. “… I just remember like he always had a midrange game,” Bullock said earlier this month. “I’m in high school I was seeing him play and I’m like, ‘This kid got the best midrange game I’ve ever seen.’ ” After the Detroit Pistons acquired Bradley from the Boston Celtics for Marcus Morris and Bullock re-signed for two seasons with the Pistons, the two are now teammates. And Bullock has watched Bradley grow into the one of the best two-way players in the NBA. “He’s a great defender — always been a great defender — he can get over pick-and-rolls, he gets into players, (and) he’s obviously a player I’ll continue to learn from this season, even in practice,” Bullock said. Bradley comes from the Celtics, one of the best teams in the NBA. There’s hope the winning habits rub off. “I’ve never seen him take plays off — at all — and he’s in it to win it,” Bullock said. “I’m sure that he’s training this summer to bring a winning mentality back to Detroit. … but this year is a brand new year for us to build, and that’s our focus, but Avery overall is a great player on both ends of the floor.”
Anze Kopitar signed an eight-year, $80 million contract last January. Given that he was 28-years-old at the time, some fans pondered if it was a good idea to award the Slovenian native with such a long contract given the cap crunch the Los Angeles Kings have faced over the last few years (and will continue to face in the near future). With lengthy, hefty deals handed out to Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik, fans were justified in their concern when considering a stagnating (or worse, shrinking) salary cap.
But when referencing Kopitar, is he an overpaid under-performer, or is he simply unlucky? Last year, he scored 25 goals and tallied 74 total points in 81 games. It was his ninth straight year of leading the team in points scored in all situations (he made his NHL debut in 2006-07). This season, though 33 games, Kopitar has managed a meager 3 goals and 14 assists. Not impressive for a $10 million man.
Did Kopitar suddenly forget how to play hockey or is there something else at play here? Let’s take a look at his numbers from the 2009-2010 season through 2015-2016. In just over 7600 minutes at 5v5, Kopitar is third on the team in Fenwick For% (unblocked shot attempts), clocking in at an aggregate 57.29%, right behind Justin Williams (58.24%) and Jake Muzzin (58.30%). His Corsi For% (all attempts) was 57.66%. Basically, for six years, Kopitar has been one of the best forwards at generating shots-for while actively suppressing shots-against. (He’s fifth overall in the NHL and fourth among forwards who have played at least 4,000 minutes.) It seems unlikely that all of a sudden, Kopitar, who has put up no fewer than 60 points in a full season ever in his career, has seen his production fall off a cliff just because he turned 29 -years-old in August.
Is he doing anything differently so far? Well, not really. Among players with at least 350 minutes, Kopitar is unsurprisingly leading his teammates in CF%. On the surface, his 57.56 FF% might suggest that he’s either missing or having more of his shots blocked, but it’s not very far off from his 57.89 CF%, so it’s not like he’s constantly shooting into legs or bodies.
If his shots aren’t being blocked, perhaps Kopitar’s problem is average shot distance. Currently, his average shot distance is 25.33 feet from the net, which is the third closest it has been in his career. In the two years where his average shot distance was smaller, he scored 41 and 33 even-strength points. For what it’s worth, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Connor McDavid (three of the highest point scorers in the NHL), all have shot distances between 22 and 23 feet. Is 24-36 inches enough to make a significant difference? On the surface, it seems plausible but if that were truly the case, shouldn’t Jesper Fast (17.12 feet) have more than 15 points?
Bergeron only has 12 points in 36 games this season. Yet, Boston Bruins fans have largely been quiet about the center’s offensive numbers thus far. His extremely cap-friendly deal with an AAV of $6.875 million and the Bruins holding down a playoff spot are probably two significant contributing factors. Then again, Bergeron isn’t a newly minted captain. Interestingly, the average distance of Bergeron’s shots is 30.35 feet, which is farther out than Kopitar.
The biggest issue with LA’s top center appears to be lack of shots on goal. In keeping with the comparison to players who have played at least 350 minutes this season, the Team Europe captain is sixth from the bottom in shots on goal (SF), with a mere 47. Granted, he did miss five games with a minor injury but in the same amount of games played, Tyler Toffoli has 68 SF. Both have 10 points. It doesn’t seem like blocks are the problem as noted earlier by the incredibly small difference between his FF% and CF%. What does this mean? Possibly a lot of deflections, as we saw with Brent Burns at Staples Center on New Year’s Eve or he’s simply missing. The good news is that the Kings’ fearless leader is fifth in both individual scoring chances and scoring chances per 60. So while his individual shot rate may be a little lower than it usually is, the lack of scoring mostly seems to come down to luck. (And a bunch of posts.)
That’s right, at the end of the day, Kopitar’s scoring woes are affected most greatly by random variance. His shooting percent is 5.7%, the lowest it’s been since 2008-09 (and maybe in his entire career – though wholesale nhl jerseys the data doesn’t stretch that far back). His PDO (Sh% + Sv%) is, as expected, low, hovering around 98.14. If Kopitar keeps shooting and creating opportunities, his critics will probably have to find something else to complain about. For now, time and patience are required until that elusive mistress Lady Luck graces Los Angeles with her presence.
Alex Pietrangelo has evolved from a top draft pick into one of the best defenders in the league. The St. Louis Blues are now hoping he keeps growing.
The St. Louis Blues have had some great defenders over the course of their history. Al Arbour, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger and the Plager brothers are just a few of the names that pop to mind.
Alex Pietrangelo has a strong chance to join those names as some of the best to wear a St. Louis Blues jersey. He’s proven that in cheap jerseys China eight, short years by evolving into exactly what the Blues needed from him.
The man they call Petro was selected with the fourth overall pick in 2008. Unlike the previous defender taken, Pietrangelo has become exactly the player the Blues wanted.
The Blues, fresh off a disappointing fifth place division finish, found themselves in a position where they could select the best player on the board. Some were hesitant with the Blues taking another defenseman so high in the draft after taking Erik Johnson number one overall just two years prior.
While Johnson has become a very serviceable player, Pietrangelo has quickly become one of the elite men in the game. He has not come too close to winning, but he’s received Norris Trophy votes in four out of the six full seasons he has played in St. Louis.
When Pietrangelo started with the team, most of us were just hoping he’d provide some offense and be a steady player on the blue line. I remember watching him in the World Junior Championships and he was a force.
Team Canada structured their powerplay unit around him, placing him in the slot in a box and one formation. It isn’t something that translated into the pros, but it was an indication of his offensive quality.
Pietrangelo didn’t disappoint when finally given a full NHL season either. He immediately scored 43 points. Seven goals and four on the powerplay were also part of his rookie stats.
From there, he has pushed himself and gown each season. Pietrangelo’s ice time has increased every single year and in the 2016 playoffs, he averaged almost 30 minutes of time on the ice against some of the league’s most potent offensive teams.
More importantly than numbers, Pietrangelo has quietly formed himself into a respected player both on the Blues and around the league. Before he was made captain of the Blues, he served as captain of Team Canada in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
He was also named the best defenseman twice on the international level. He won those honors in 2010 at the World Junior Championships and again in 2011 at the Men’s World Championship.
Now, the Blues have handed him the reigns of their team and it could not come at a better time. Pietrangelo has had enough time to grow and learn and is more than ready to take over.
He has played under some of the most sensible, respectable captains in Eric Brewer and David Backes. He’s been able to gain advice and tutelage from guys like Bob Plager, Bernie Federko and MacInnis.
It’s his time now. He’s earned the right to lead.
Not only has he produced the sort of offensive numbers the Blues needed, but he has evolved into one of the league’s best overall players. No, he’s not going to score the fancy goals or throw a bone rattling check.
However, he’s going to do his best to stop some of the league’s best scorers. He’s going to help the Blues win.
With Pietrangelo on the team, the Blues have had some of their best seasons in team history. He’s not the only reason, but he’s a big reason.