I’ve said this several times in 2011: This is my favorite Royals team in recent memory. Bottom line, it’s just a fun bunch of position players to watch on a nightly basis. Part of the enjoyment comes from the gun show the Royals outfield produces on a consistent basis. Whether it’s Alex Gordon gunning down runners at the plate, Jeff Francoeur delivering perfect strikes to third or Melky Cabrera doing whatever it is he does, the trio of outfielders has been a defensive highlight reel. Amazing fun.
I suspect when we look back at 2011, one of the first things that will jump to mind is the plethora of outfield assists.
With that in mind, here are some cool stats on the Royals outfield:
— Twenty of the Royals outfield assists have come from Gordon in left field. That’s the most assists from that position in the majors. Houston is second with 14.
— We always say something like, “When will teams learn not to run on Gordon (and the Royals)?” when a runner is gunned down on the bases. Evidence shows the opposition is paying attention. Forty-four times this year a runner has been on second when Gordon has fielded the ball in left, and 24 of those times, the third base coach has thrown up the stop sign. That’s 55%. Only Cleveland left fielders are shown more respect, with runners stopping at third 60% of the time. (I have no reason why this would be the case.)
— Cabrera has thrown out only one runner at third this year, but he’s gunned down five runners at the plate.
— Royals right fielders (mostly Francoeur with some Mitch Maier spotted from time to time) have a 5.7% kill rate (defined by Baseball Reference as the percentage of plays where a baserunner was thrown out trying to advance.) That’s the highest percentage among right fielders.
— That percentage is second among all outfield positions. First place is held by Royals left fielders at 6%.
— Assists at home:
Royals LF – 10
Royals RF – 9
Angels RF – 7
Dodgers CF – 6
Royals CF – 5*
The five assists at home by Royals center fielders is tied with several other teams.
— Mitch Maier has one assist.
— Baseball Info Solutions has a number called Outfield Arms Above Average. Basically, it’s a look at the number of runs above average the outfielder was worth based on his baserunner kills and baserunner advances. Here are the leaders for 2011:
Alex Gordon – 11
Jeff Francoeur – 8
Rick Ankiel – 8
Six players are tied at six runs above average.
— Melky is at -1. That’s surprising if you just look at the number of runners he’s thrown out. But the fact is, more runners take chances against Cabrera in center than either of the Royals corner outfielders.
The Gun Show has been one of the more impressive and enjoyable developments of 2011. The good news: The Show will be held over for the 2012 season. We’ll get a chance to enjoy it all over again.