So, Kila Kaaihue hit another home run last night. That makes two of those in his long-awaited first two games at AAA.
But for some reason, I was more pleased to see that at-bat in which Kaaihue walked. I've heard all about how he hits for power, but this season he also had about twice as many walks (80) as he did strikeouts (41) with Northwest Arkansas. I like that kind of discipline, because I've watched Kila's extreme statistical opposite play infield for Omaha for too long.
Jason Smith is battling with Albuquerque's Dallas McPherson for most strikeouts in the PCL. At this writing, both have 127. The important differences: McPherson has 19 more homers than Smith, and has walked 44 more times, for a difference of .341 between the two players' OPS. My friend Becky and I have long since decided that death and taxes are not the only sure things in life; Jason Smith swinging at the first and/or second pitch is just as certain.
I'm not picking on Smith just to be mean. He's just a textbook example of my least favorite kind of hitter. Hacking is annoying, unless you hit a record-breaking number of home runs (and even then, I'll roll my eyes at all the first pitches you chase). He's not the only ORoyal who can't walk. No one on the team is withing screaming distance of the league lead in walks, and Ryan Shealy's 38 leads the team.
A similar thing can be said about Kansas City - nobody there knows how to walk either, except of course Alex Gordon (who has 51 - good for 15th in the AL). The inability to get on base is generally the same as an inability to win a lot of games; it's no surprise that it's the Royals and hapless* Mariners who are tied for last in OBP.
*Ha! Did you see what I did there? I, a Royals fan/writer, got to call someone else's team "hapless!" And it felt GREAT. Most sites, Deadspin for example, continue to be unable to type "Royals" without preceding it with "hapless," even though the Royals are not in last place. Should we just officially change the team name? "Now taking the field are your 2008 Kansas City Hapless Royals!"
I hope the Royals' apparently official commitment to hacking doesn't rub off on Kila. I hope he continues to walk twice as much as he strikes out, and that his OBP can stay somewhere near the sexily high .463 he put up in NWArk. So far, so good...ahh, small sample sizes:
Kila Kaaihue in AAA:
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