In football, teams can often be judged by their giveaway-takeaway ratio. In almost every case, the teams with high rates of takeaways (recovered fumbles, intercepted passes) and low rates of giveaways are the best in the league.
Let’s consider a similar formula for a baseball team. In this situation, the “takeaways” will be breakout players, those who perform above their pre-season expectations. The “giveaways,” conversely, are the busts, players who have failed to meet their goals.
In the case of the Kansas City Royals, players such as David DeJesus, Billy Butler, Alberto Callaspo and All-Star representative Joakim Soria don’t factor into the equation. We expected them to have good seasons, and they’re doing just that.
Let’s examine the Royals’ breakouts and busts, and see what that tells us about the first half of the 2010 season.
BREAKOUT: Bruce Chen
He pitched six perfect innings over the weekend and has been the biggest surprise in the Royals’ rotation this year. In fact, he may be the best pitcher on the team right now.
BUST: Rick Ankiel
Even before he was injured early in the season, Ankiel was batting a measly .210 over the first 19 games.
BREAKOUT: Yuniesky Betancourt
Don’t stop reading! The much-maligned Yuni is batting .255 with a handful of homers and halfway decent defense, including a few spectacular plays. He’s performing well above what anybody expected.
BUST: Zack Greinke
The last few games he has been nearer to his Cy Young-winning form, but early in the season he was bust-worthy. Zack has always been haunted by poor run support, and this year has been no exception.
BREAKOUT: Kyle Farnsworth
Farnsworth, perhaps the biggest surprise this season, is leading the team with a 2.10 ERA. He’s become a valuable setup guy in the bullpen. Expect him to be traded soon.
BUST: Willie Bloomquist
Bloomquist is a fan favorite and had a great year off the bench last season, but he’s become flat this year, with a scant .243 average over 74 at-bats.
BREAKOUT: Jose Guillen
Given Guillen’s contract, some fans would say anything less than a .325 average and 40 home runs would be a bust. But realistically, Guillen has been the best offensive producer on the team this year, which is surprising given his previous numbers.
OTHER BREAKOUTS: Mike Aviles, Scott Podsednik, Wilson Betemit, Dusty Hughes
OTHER BUSTS: Gil Meche, Chris Getz
What does this tell us? The Royals have had a few more breakouts than busts, and in most estimations, the team under Ned Yost is better than the team was under Trey Hillman. The Royals are 36-46, fourth place in the AL Central, and eight games back of the division-leading Twins and Tigers.
The success of the team in the second half will also be determined by breakouts and busts. Will the Royals have more takeaways or giveaways down the stretch?