The ALCS remains a treat for real aficionados of the game, with two teams highly skilled in defense and steeped in the fundamentals of the game (other than strategy). Yes, I still would rather be an Indians fan, but it's easy to see how Royals fans must be savoring the way their team plays the game. I caught an MLB Tonight segment in which the outfield's multiple, sensational, run-saving plays are highlighted, just in the first two games alone, pausing for a moment to lavish praise on first base coach Rusty Kuntz's prowess at outfield instruction and positioning. Could this guy be the a part of the Royals' secret sauce, I wondered? Here are a few things I turned up.
Royals have a lot of hand signals for positioning outfielders | The Kansas City Star — Overview of their defensive strategy, focusing on Kuntz.
Royals' Rusty Kuntz is baseball's best base-running coach | The Kansas City Star — Apparently the guy is amazing at more than one type of coaching. That's interesting and annoying.
Diamond Demo: Royals' run game | MLB.com — More on KC baserunning. If you let the page auto-forward to the next video at the end, you get a nice piece on Lorenzo Cain, familiar to Indians fans as the guy who was never even for a moment part of the Sabathia deal.
Rusty Kuntz | SABR — As an aside, here's a little biographical piece on Kuntz's playing career, including his pivotal role in the 1984 World Series. This is nice, actually, because it means Tigers fans must be irritated at how much he's helping the Royals.
Don't try this at home: Gordon's pregame regimen unimaginable | royals.com — Focus on Gordon, still more on Kuntz.
HBT Daily: How are the Royals doing what they’re doing? | HardballTalk — Warning: if you click on this, you will find out what Craig Calcaterra looks and sounds like. I'm not saying it's terrible or anything, I'm just saying, you can't un-see that. There's something great about a writer existing purely as disembodied text. I used to be like that, remember?
Andrew Miller, Wade Davis and the Battle of the Bullpen Aces | FanGraphs Baseball — Meanwhile, our pal August imagines the ALCS matchup a little differently. It really is amazing, all this coverage of defense, baserunning and relief pitching. You would almost think the lineups and rotations don't matter!
The rainout could mean Chris Tillman and James Shields come back for Game 4 | HardballTalk — OK, the rotations matter at least a little bit. Still, in my gut, it's hard to believe rotations matter all that much when Jeremy Guthrie is in one of them.
Inbox: When can Lindor be expected to join Tribe? | indians.com — Nice overview of a lot of issues from Bastian. He notably handles the pretend controversy in our infield a great deal more adeptly than Zack Meisel, who kind of seems like an idiot to me at the moment. Like, he's overtly campaigning to put Hoynes out of a job. Anyway, solid work from Bastian here. Scroll down to the end, and you'll see Castro's piece on Sandy Alomar's continuing always-a-bridesmaid conundrum.
As they plan ahead, what do the Cleveland Indians make of Jason Kipnis' 2014 season? | cleveland.com — Spoiler alert: They did not like it.
MLB free agent class 2015: Check out these first basemen | cleveland.com — I really would like to focus on defense if we're going to add someone, but anyway, here's a list.
Around the league
Baseball Prospectus | Baseball Therapy: The Other Playoff Myths — Nice piece covering a lot of the dumb things people think and say about the postseason.
Baseball Prospectus | Fox's Fresh Format — Analytics comes to Fox Sports. Somehow I doubt it'll be coming to any other division of that company.
Yadier Molina will remain on Cardinals’ roster despite oblique injury | HardballTalk — Kind of a surprising bit of news here. Molina is immensely valuable, and it's understandable that they don't want to eliminate Molina from World Series eligibility. Still, they need to win right now, and obliques really are a bitch. It's a real dilemma.
Quick Looks on Rasmus, Pomeranz, Montero, Norris | FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball — There's a quick bit in here on Drew Pomeranz, just in case you've been missing him, which I never did and especially don't after reading this. Still chuckling over Ubaldo not being on the ALCS roster.
The strike zone is getting really, really big | HardballTalk — An interesting development examined here.
Brad Ausmus talks about his bullpen decisions. Short version: he wouldn’t change a thing. | HardballTalk — And finally, some good news: Ausmus is committed to not getting any smarter.