Monday, March 11, 2013

2013 MLB Preview #23: Kansas City Royals

Greetings! At least they have Jeff Francoeur (and I still love him)...

Projected Starters - Salvador Perez (C), Eric Hosmer (1B), Chris Getz/Johnny Giavotella (2B), Alcides Escobar (SS), Mike Moustakas (3B), Alex Gordon (LF), Lorenzo Cain (CF), Jeff Francoeur (RF), Billy Butler (DH)

When the Royals shipped Wil Myers to Toronto, it was a push to the middle of the table and an "all-in" move on the present over the future. They chose (willingly) to leave Jeff Francoeur in right field, and with all of my bias aside (I love him), he produced a -1.2 FanGraphs WAR last year, which is hilariously bad. I don't believe he's that bad, as he was nearly a 3-win player in 2011, but that's a weak spot. Speaking of weak spots, KC will also struggle in the middle infield, as the Getz/Giavotella will struggle with the bat, and Escobar's only real asset is speed. Other than those three spots, however, the lineup is really, really solid. Billy Butler hit 29 homers and hit for an .883 OPS last season in the DH role, and he's flanked by Alex Gordon, who rode a league-high 51 doubles and plus-defense to 5.9 WAR last season. Salvador Perez is one of the best young catchers in the game, also, as he has a career .810 OPS from the catcher's spot. The offense will likely come-and-go based on the performance of Hosmer and Moustakas. These two have been paired together as "top prospects" for years and the results have been mixed at the MLB level. Moustakas hit 20 homers and had very good defensive numbers last year, but struggled to a sub-.300 OBP, and Hosmer struggled mightily at the plate in his first full season (negative WAR, etc.). I think Hosmer rebounds and becomes a hitting machine (still), but this year's performance is almost fully based on these two guys making a leap.

Projected - James Shields, Ervin Santana, Jeremy Guthrie, Bruce Chen, Wade Davis

If there was one thing that KC needed, it was a front-line starter and they acquired that in Shields. He may not be a top-10 guy in the league, but he's a fringe #1/definite #2 starter and he's a beast. He's thrown at least 200 innings in six straight seasons, and he's struck out 220+ batters in the last two seasons. After that, the drop-off is severe. Ervin Santana has tantalizing stuff, but he's insanely inconsistent and sports a lifetime ERA in the mid-4.00's. Guthrie has very little downside, but his upside his limited by a K-rate in the low-5.00's and a middling ERA. He's a 5th starter masquerading as their #3. Chen is the epitome of mediocre, and Davis, while awesome last year in a relief role, is probably over his head as a starter. It is a good gamble to give him a spot, though.

Projected - Greg Holland (closer), Aaron Crow, Tim Collins, Everett Teaford, Kelvin Herrera

It's never a good thing when a reliever leads the pitching staff in WAR, but that's what happened with Greg Holland in 2012. He was tremendous in both set-up and closing roles, sporting a 2.96 ERA and striking out over 12 batters per 9 on the season. He's permanently cemented as the closer now, and one of the better options in the AL. Crow and Collins both have really good stuff for set-up guys, and that's a solid tandem at the end of games. This won't be an outright strength, but the back-3 is very, very solid.


It's cliche to say that KC is a year away... but they probably are. They need another starter (or two) and their young guys haven't panned out at all. The lineup could be excellent if both Hosmer and Moustakas break out, but any reasonable expectation puts them in the middle-of-the-pack at best.


74-88, 4th in AL Central

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