Thanks to everyone who came to the event at the Well last night. Excellent way to prep for the upcoming season and always good to talk Royals with a bunch of passionate fans.
Late night means late post… But no shortage of info to digest this morning. From Dutton, it appears the Royals are inching closer to a set lineup that looks something like this:
3B Mike Aviles
SS Alcides Escobar/2B Chris Getz
1B/DH Billy Butler
DH/1B Kila Ka’aihue
CF Melky Cabrera
RF Jeff Francoeur
LF Alex Gordon
C Brayan Pena/Lucas May
2B Chris Getz/SS Alcides Escobar
This strikes me kind of like the rotation… It is what it is. This team lacks a true leadoff hitter (at least one that has been promised playing time… Ahem…) and it also appears to lack a true number two. Of course, we all remember The Jason Kendall Experience batting second from last season.
According to Dutton, the Getz/Escobar middle infield combo will share number two duties depending on the handedness of the starting pitcher. Frankly, neither one excites me hitting high in the order. Still, difficult to be outraged over something that Ned Yost really can’t help. I mean, he could start Lance Zawadzki instead of Getz, but that’s essentially swapping a number nine hitter for a number nine hitter. Offensively, it feels like a bit of a push.
Here’s what Yost had to say about Aviles hitting at the top of the order:
“I like Aviles at the top,” Yost said. “He’s a guy who has a chance to hit .300. He’s a guy who can steal bases. He’s a guy who will give you a decent at-bat, and he finds a way to get on.
“He’s a free-swinger type but, more than anybody else in our lineup, he’s got the magic wand. His hits find holes. In the leadoff spot, you’re looking for a guy who can get on base any way that he can and start the merry-go-round.”
Of course, Yost mentions OBP fourth in a list of qualities that make Aviles his “ideal” leadoff man. Sigh. It’s that free swinger rap that caught my attention. Last season, he swung at 50.8% of all pitches, well above the major league average of 45.6%. It should also be noted that over his career, he’s seen an average of 3.51 pitches per plate appearance. Major league average over those three years is 3.82. Nope, Aviles may own a “magic wand” but he’s not the type of hitter you want at the top of the order. Still… I don’t know who else there is given the chosen (or promised) starting nine.
The rest of the order is fine by me. Although Cabrera seems an odd choice to hit fifth, but as mentioned, there are already four guys in the lineup who should hit eighth or ninth… There’s still too much mediocrity and not enough spots at the bottom of the order. They’ll flip Gordon and Francoeur depending on handedness of the pitcher and who’s hotter at the moment. (Stop laughing.) Overall, this lineup features four right handed hitters, three leftys and a pair of switch hitters. That’s a decent balance and will give Yost license to tinker around the heart of the order.