This is the latest post in this series reviewing the Kansas City Royals offensively, position by position. You can go back and read the posts on catcher (including a series preview), first base, second base, third base, shortstop, left field, center field and right field.
First, let’s take a look at how the players who manned the DH position hit when they were in the lineup as a DH.
Jose Guillen got the bulk of the duty at DH, which frankly is where he should have been for the last two years because of lingering leg injuries. In the 84 games which Guillen hit in the DH slot, he was pretty average. It’s not what one would hope for $12 million a season, however he wasn’t exactly the glaring hole some assumed he was.
The only other players who had more than nominal DH duty were Billy Butler and Kila Ka’aihue, the two players who will most likely get the vast majority of the starts at the position in 2011. It shouldn’t shock anyone at this point that Billy Butler can hit the ball, and 2010 was no exception. Kila’s line is instructive. He was pretty close to an average DH offensively, but he does in in an unorthodox manner. His OBP would have been 6th in the chart below and his slugging percentage would be 8th, however his batting average would have been thirteenth.
As a unit, the Royals designated hitters ranked 7th in the American League. Once again the Royals find themselves pretty close to the middle offensively. Doing this exercise opened my eyes to the fact that the offense was not that bad in 2010. Jose Guillen is the biggest influence on those numbers, and it’s clear by the low walk rate, high strikeout rate and decent slugging.
2011 will be completely different with Jose Guillen gone and Butler and Ka’aihue likely to take the at bats. 2011 will be in many ways a make-or-break year for Kila. The Royals are beginning to graduate some of their impact corner bats like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and even Clint Robinson. Kila is likely to get all of 2011 to showcase his talents to the Royals and the rest of the MLB. If he can repeat his minor league performance, the Royals will have a very difficult decision to make in regards to their future at first base and designated hitter.
Either way, 2011 will be interesting to watch because they will have a young legitimate hitter at both first and DH. If they can anchor the middle of the lineup, it’s possible the Royals could improve offensively. Clearly, they’ll need to to overcome the recent loss of Zack Greinke from the pitching rotation.