Before the Royals headed out on the road to Chicago and Detroit a few weeks back, I wrote an article advocating Dayton Moore do something should he find his team at 42-39 on the morning of June 30th. Should the Royals win two of three this weekend, they will be exactly 42-39.
Now, how Kansas City got there was a much more eccentric ride than I anticipated, but they will be pretty much exactly where a lot of us thought they would be: a few games over .500, in the thick of the wild card race and trailing Detroit. Should the Royals actually get to 42-39 or limp to the end of June at 41-40 does not really matter much. Either way, this is a .500 or touch better team with not a lot of hope of being any different without its General Manager doing something.
Certainly one could point to the following:
- Eric Hosmer has real talent, has to get better and could (as he did in 2013) get really hot.
- Mike Moustakas has shown signs of moving from horrific to just below average.
- Billy Butler is returning to form.
- Lorenzo Cain is healthy.
- Danny Duffy is stringing together some consistently good (maybe a little lucky) starts.
I would counter with the ‘this is baseball and things tend to balance out’ argument and state that as all or some of the above happen or continue to happen, they might well be accompanied by:
- Alcides Escobar could slump at the plate.
- The starting rotation really might not be this good all season long.
- Wade Davis or Greg Holland could prove to be human.
- Lorenzo Cain could get hurt.
- Rightfield could become a giant black hole of suck.
They are who we thought they were and they need to be better. One player? Two players?
Let’s go to the basement and talk WAR: fWAR specifically. I’ll digress for a moment and inform everyone that in the modern age, utilizing a statistic that you cannot readily figure on your Texas Instruments calculator does not make one a nerd. Like batting average, RBI, ERA or any other stat, Wins Above Replacement is not perfect, but it comes closer to defining a players overall offensive, defensive and baserunning ability than anything else. We have smartphones, computers, tablets and brains, stop thinking you’re cool because you don’t believe in anything after the slugging percentage column in a statistical table.
Okay, where do the Royals regulars rank in fWAR among the rest of baseball?
- LF – Alex Gordon 4.3 fWAR – NUMBER ONE…..by a lot.
- CF – Lorenzo Cain 2.2 fWAR – 6th
- RF – Nori Aoki 0.9 fWAR – 12th (yeah, I thought it was worse, but it’s still not good)
- 3B – Michael Moustakas 0.3 fWAR – 20th out of 24, all because of defense.
- SS – Alcides Escobar 1.8 fWAR – 6th
- 2B – Omar Infante 0.6 fWAR – 18th (Omar is better than this, but maybe not that much better, anymore)
- 1B – Eric Hosmer -0.8 fWAR – 26th out of 27th (gross – to be fair, Fangraphs does not like Hosmer’s defense, which is probably one of those defensive metric weird thingys)
- C – Salvador Perez 2.4 fWAR – 3rd
- DH – Billy Butler -0.6 fWAR – 8th (which is last among qualified full-time designated hitters)
As I wrote earlier this week, one can solve a little bit of the issue by simply playing Jarrod Dyson most of the time in place of Aoki. The Royals, moving forward, would be wise to not get stuck on the idea that Infante is here for the next three years and ‘we still believe in Moustakas’ theory. Would it be totally stupid to get a half year rental at second and restart with Infante next year? If there is a big bat who takes time from Hosmer and/or Butler and/or anyone else not named Gordon or Perez, should Dayton Moore thumb his nose at the idea just because ‘Eric Hosmer is the future’?
The BP event is this weekend, make sure to buy Craig a danish if you see him.