That is my complete analysis of the three game sweep at the hands of the Pirates.
Currently, Wil Myers is hitting .341/.388/.714 through right at 100 AAA plate appearances. He has been playing centerfield in Omaha, but I have yet to get any definitve review of how he has been playing centerfield. Is he Jeff Francoeur with a touch more range? David DeJesus minus the instincts? Melky Cabrera only…well, Melky Cabrera? Maybe Myers will fall in with the Moustakas syndrome. You know, we all thought that Moustakas might be passable defensively at third, only to see him be a very good defensive third baseman (at least preliminarily). Maybe Myers could be the same sort of deal in center. Maybe.
For fun, I did exhaustively comprehensive research in the last four and one-half minutes, and pulled the leaders in wOBA from Fangraphs and reviewed how many AAA plate appearances each of them had before hitting the major leagues. The results, as you might imagine from such a small sample size is quite varied:
- Joey Votto – 580 AAA plate appearances
- Josh Hamilton – 0
- Paul Konerko – 868
- Carlos Gonzalez – 237 (Cargo played half a season with Oakland, then got 223 more AAA PA’s after getting traded to Colorado the next year)
- David Wright – 134 (only 272 more in AA – all in the same season)
- Mark Trumbo – 595
- Ryan Braun – 134 (only 257 in AA as well)
- Josh Willingham – 279 (Josh was 26 when he made the majors and was still playing A ball at age 24)
- Carlos Beltran – 0 (just 208 in AA as well)
- Bryan LaHair – 2,709
LaHair and Willingham are fun cases in that we often just discount those types of players as ‘too old for their level’ and ‘AAAA’ types. Most times they are, but it is wise to remember that sometimes they are not.
For our purposes, however, Wright, Beltran and Braun are noteworthy. Myers already has more AA at-bats than any of them and is closing in on the amount of time Braun and Wright spent in AAA. Beltran, who skipped AAA entirely, got a cup of coffee at the end of 1998 and then won Rookie of the Year honors in 1999. He did end up spending some time in AAA in 2000, but that situation might apply more to a discussion on Eric Hosmer than Wil Myers.
Certainly and without question, those three players are elite level talents and highly thought of prospects on their way up. However, isn’t that what most think Wil Myers might be? Now, you could deal Ryan Braun out of the equation given that he was a college player prior to being drafted, but both Beltran and Wright were not and both were in the majors before age 21. The point is not to call up Wil Myers this very second, but only to show a very few examples of some really good prospects who spent very little time in getting to the majors.
Of course, the Royals are not a ‘Wil Myers’ away from contention. Had they drafted Chris Sale instead of Christian Colon and Tim Lincecum instead of Luke Hochevar (or Clayton Kershaw or even Brandon Morrow), then maybe the Royals would be just one player away. The question is, just how many players away are they?
Let’s remember that even great teams don’t have great players at every position. They all have a Jeff Francoeur or a Jarrod Dyson or a Johnny Giavotella in their lineup and a Hochevar in the rotation. Truthfully, it is a bit unfair to even lump Frenchy in with the others. He is not a good major leaguer, but he is a legitimate major league player: decent enough to play right and bat seventh on a contending team.
For better or worse, the Royals are set at six spots in the lineup: Gordon, Moustakas, Escobar, Hosmer, Butler and Perez. If that core group does not perform over the next two to three years, then this discussion is irrelevant and Dayton Moore will not longer by your general manager. That group is, as a unit, is not getting it done right now, but let’s pretend (if nothing else) that they will start doing so soon.
In addition to that core, the Royals have a very good and very deep bullpen and one and one-half starting pitchers. Bruce Chen is not a number one on any team, but he can certainly be a number four starter on a contender. Felipe Paulino is good, when he’s healthy. There is a pitcher like this on a lot of teams. Hell, Jonathan Sanchez was that guy for the Giants when they won the World Series.
So, where are we? Right back to where we all thought the Royals were in March? Two good starting pitchers away from being decent? Pretty much.
Truthfully, one really good starter and two ‘better than what they have now’ starting pitchers away from being pretty solid. Throw in Wil Myers and you are getting there. If Wil Myers can really handle centerfield, then Kansas City moves to very good. Big ‘if’, but an intriguing if and one that should be explored once the Royals are willing to roll the dice on the Super Two timing as it relates to Myers’ service time.
Myers would make the Royals better and certainly more interesting, but the truth is it doesn’t matter when Vin Mazzaro and Luis Mendoza are your number three and four starters. IF Paulino could get and stay healthy and IF Jake Odorizzi continues to appear to be and eventually becomes the ‘real deal’, then you could line up Odorizzi, Paulino and Chen in the rotation for the second half with the hope that Danny Duffy could be back by the middle of 2013 to be your number five starter. That group has some hope.
Of course, that leaves a big blank spot at the top of the rotation. Your move, Mr. Moore.