Another year lost.
That is what we have seen this year, like so many other years, from the Royals. Another year of expectations not met, another year of a losing record, another year of failure. But how can it all turn around? They clearly have talent in place in a lot of areas. They have some guys who have the ability to perform next year, such as Alex Gordon in left, Billy Butler at DH, Alcides Escobar at shortstop, Salvador Perez at catcher, Mike Moustakas at third, and Lorenzo Cain in Center.
If you do a quick evaluation of this team, you will see that the Royals currently rank 9th in the AL in On Base Percentage (OBP). You will notice that we have about six regular players with league or better On-base numbers (League average is about a .320 On-base percentage) (Alex Gordon, Billy Butler, Alcides Escobar, Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, and Chris Getz). If you weed out the players who don’t have above average OBP numbers (Below a .340 OBP), you only get Alcides Escobar, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, and Salvador Perez. In order to be a winner in 2013 and beyond, we need to constantly be evaluating the team’s on-base stats, and we need to consistently have an above-average overall team OBP (at least .330). You see that teams like the Rangers, the Tigers, the Yankees, the Cardinals, the Red Sox, and the Braves (All fairly consistent winners) have high team OBP numbers. If we want to be a team like those teams, we need to focus on getting on base.
If you dig a little further (And trust me, you don’t need to dig much further to see this glaring issue), you will see that we have practically no starting pitching. We are 11th out of 14 AL teams in ERA, and if you look deeper into the stats, you will see that we do not have a single starter with an ERA+ over 100 (Which basically means we do not have a single starter who is even average). We can safely assume that Felipe Paulino and Danny Duffy (our only two starters who can be expected to have ERA+ numbers over 100) are going to be gone for at least most of the season. We can also assume that Jake Odorizzi will not immediately contribute to our starting pitching woes. The bullpen is playoff-caliber, but we need a complete overhaul to the starting rotation.
To recap, here is what the Royals need to contend next year and beyond:
1: An above average team OBP.
2: five pitchers each with an ERA+ over 90.
3: To make some shrewd moves on the market during the offseason to acquire these luxuries.
During the offseason, the Royals will have a payroll of roughly $50 Million and a budget of roughly $20 Million without any additions or subtractions.
If you take Hochevar and Chen’s salary out of the equation, we would have a salary of roughly $30 million this offseason. If you take even 1/4th of Jeff Francoeur’s salary out of the equation, we would have a budget of $33 Million.
With that money (Even if we don’t dump Francoeur) and our resources in the minors, we should have more than enough to acquire 3 starting pitchers who are at least decent, and a right handed bat at second base with a decent OBP (Jeff Keppinger is an example, or we could just call up Johnny Giavotella) to platoon at second with Chris Getz.
There are plenty of options on the starting pitching market this offseason. From top free agent targets such as Zack Grienke, Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson, Shaun Marcum, and (potentially) Jake Peavy, to potential trade targets such as James Shields, Josh Beckett, Josh Johnson, and Jason Vargas, the market is the deepest it has been in years. The Royals should have no trouble finding at least a few legitimate starting pitching options.
There will be a lot more speculation as to what the Royals do this offseason, but I thought I would give you a primer for what to expect from now until Opening Day next year.
The Royals have played a total of 62 games this season in which they have lost 35 games. As everyone knows, it took the club its first 11 home games to get the first home win. In the middle of interleague play, the Royals are looking like they may just turn the corner and get back to .500. With Salvador Perez in the midst of his rehab assignment, a major piece to the puzzle will be inserted when he fully recovers. While Quintero and Pena have done a good job filling in for Perez, the void has been detrimental. Perez does more then just hit and field. He calls a great game and adds consistency.
- The Royals have had one home game in which over 40,000 fans were in attendance.
- Lead the Majors in worst home record standing at 11-20
- Are 16-15 away from Kauffman Stadium
- Have yet to score 10+ runs in a game.
- Have scored 9 runs only twice
With the stats from the players coming up, I wanted to feature the two break out players. Alcides Escobar and Mike Moustakas have become offensive threats this year. Last year, both players struggled immensely. Escobar, usually known for his glove, is hitting .288 which is 34 points higher then last year. Moose is hitting the same average wise but his power numbers are higher with 9 bombs so far this year. The most impressive improvement that Moose has made is with the glove. Moustakas has always been questioned as a third basemen because of his defense. He has put all worries aside this year.
- Billy Butler leads the team with a .299 batting average.
- Butler leads the team with 11 home runs. In second is Mike Moustakas (9)
- Alex Gordon has 19 doubles which is the most among Royals.
- Alcides Escobar leads the club with 11 stolen bases.
- Billy Butler leads the team with 37 RBI’s.
- Gordon lead the team in strikeouts (52) and walks (33).
- Bruce Chen leads the team in wins (5) and innings (75).
- Luke Hochevar leads the team with K’s (54), hits allowed (82), loses (7), and the highest ERA (6.27).
- Jose Mijares has pitched in a team high 31 games.
- Jonathan Broxton leads the team in ERA (1.52) and saves (15).
With 100 games left in the season, there will be major changes. The Royals goal before the All-Star break should be to reach and stay at .500. While many fans have called for OF Wil Myers to be called up, I am against this decision. Myers is ready now but the Royals are not. Why burn his time in the majors now when the team is not competing. If the Royals do make it back to .500 my opinion will be reevaluated. This is the part of the Royals’ schedule where they can make a serious push to the top of the division.
The Kansas City Royals exceeded expectation for the first series of 2012 season. On opening day, Bruce Chen threw a gem. Chen threw 6 innings of scoreless baseball, however his efforts were not good enough to get the win.When Chen was taken out, Crow came in and dominated the 7th inning, striking out the side. The eighth inning, however, was a completely different story. Crow gave up 3 hits and managed to only get one out. Crow ended up giving 3 earned runs. Ned Yost then called on Greg Holland to get out of trouble. Holland gave up three hits and let two earned runs score. This outing was a complete 180 from last year. Royals starting pitching dominated this entire series. The strong group from last year, the bullpen, struggled like no one had expected. Francoeur led weak offensive charge from the Royals lineup with a double, but overall the lineup managed to only get 4 hits. Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain combined 0-8 with 6 K’s. The Angels got a strong showing from their ace Jarred Weaver who managed to strike out 10 hitters in 8 innings. Eric Aybar led the Angels with three RBI’s on a triple in the 8th inning. Of course the story of the day was Albert Pujols who, in his first game as an Angel went 0-3 with 1 K. The final score of game one was 0-5, Angels.
During the second game of the series, Luke Hochevar pitched a great game and was rewarded with the win. The former number 1 draft pick allowed runs in 6 1/3innings pitched. A great sign from Hochevar is that he threw 58 strikes in 95 pitches. Unlike last game, Ned Yost got much better results from his bullpen. Tim Collins pitched 2/3 of an inning and gave up 0 runs. Next, Yost called upon Greg Holland. Holland struck out one in one inning. Jonathan Broxton got the 9th inning and gave up 2 hits and one run. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas both blasted solo home runs off of Dan Haren. Humberto Quintero drew one walk to go along with his two doubles. This is a great surprise for the Royals. After the injury of Salvador Perez, the Royals expected the hitting from the catcher position to go down in production. Jeff Francoeur produced two out of the Royals 12 hits. For the Angels, Kendry Morales led the club with 4 hits in 4 at bats. The workhorse, Dan Haren, gave up 5 runs on 11 hits through 5 1/3 innings. The Royals won this game 5-3.
To finish off the series the Royals had Jonathan Sanchez on the mound. Sanchez was actually incredibly effective. Sanchez was throwing around 20 pitches per inning. The Royals helped the new comer in a major way with scoring 3 runs in the first inning, allowing Sanchez to be comfortable and settle down. Hosmer and Butler both homered and had 3 RBI’s off of Ervin Santana. Also, Escobar and Hosmer both stole their first base of the season. Alex Gordon continued his very early season struggles with an 0-5 game with strike out (keep in mind it’s only 3 games, but he is still struggling). Furthermore, Quintero added another double to his collection for the year. Chris Getz had 2 of the 10 hits for the series. For the bullpen, Jose Mijares had two strikeouts in an inning of work. Although Herrera allowed 5 hits, Crow managed to keep the damage to a minimum. Newly acquired Jonathan Broxton recorded his first save of the young year.
Overall, the starting pitching for the Royals stole a series away from an early World Series contender. This series win will be huge for the momentum heading into Oakland. While the bullpen has not been lights out, the starting rotation has been. Along with the great starting pitching, the Royals have done a great job of hitting in the early innings. Hosmer is in a major groove to start the season. Also, the help of Quintero and Getz makes the Royals lineup dangerous from every spot. If Gordon can’t manage to start hitting a line up change may happen. The season is young so I expect the Royals to not make a change, but they already have moved Cain down to 7th. With Escobar hitting extremely well in situational hitting, driving in runs becomes extremely easy for the top of the lineup.