The Royals are back home to close out the first half of the season this weekend against Detroit after coming off a sub-par road trip that included a five-game losing streak and only one series win. The Royals could end the first half on a high note if they can pull out a series win against the Tigers.
This is the second year in a row the Royals have had a high quality production out of an outfielder and yet again did not make the All-Star team. Last year David DeJesus last year had a higher batting average and fielding percentage than Ichiro during the first half of the season, including a consecutive errorless streak that approached all-time major league records. The Royals’ fan votes fell just short of sending Alex Gordon to the All-Star game despite the fact that among players at his position, he is currently fourth in batting average, first in doubles, third in home runs, made only one error and has a league leading thirteen assists. You cannot get much better than that.
One could also make a case for Jeff Francoeur for being there as well who leads his position in assists and among the position leaders in extra base hits and RBIs. Melky Cabrera also made some noise on the defensive side of the ball (eight assists) and contributed an above average first half at the plate (.286 going into Friday night). If the Royals are serious about building a contending ball club heading into the 2012 season, they need to keep this outfield intact.
The “Moose” (Mike Moustakas) in the past week has become more of a mouse. He has not reached base since Sunday, while watching his average dip to .233. Eric Hosmer is showing signs of improvement with his bat and is solidifying himself defensively. Butler has turned in another one of his typical first halves by batting around .300 and hitting quite a few doubles along with some home runs every once in awhile.
The pitching staff has been plagued by two things all year, injuries and inconsistency. Injuries are nearly unavoidable regardless of position in this game. They will happen, it is just a matter when. However, inconsistency usually is accompanied by either lack of talent or lack of experience. The Royals pitching staff have demonstrated that they have problems with getting people out. They are one of only three teams in the American League to allow over one-hundred home runs so far this season, and have the highest opponents’ batting average and issued the second most walks in the A.L.
Good pitching beats good hitting in any level of baseball. The Royals have some very high quality prospects down in the minors. My question is, they have the talent to win at AA and AAA level, but do they have what it takes to win in the big show? We will not know until they are called up.
Looking at who’s available in the free agent market in terms of pitching and the fact that the Royals will have quite a bit of cap room next year after cutting out three of their highest paid players from last year. Of course, good pitching does not come cheap and the Royals will have to open up their pocket books a little more than they have in the past fifteen years in order to acquire those missing pieces. Alex Gordon, Billy Butler and the other all-star caliber players need to make a push for the organization to bring in the players that can fill in the gaps. The Royals have quite a few pieces together and just need a few more to finish the puzzle.