The Kansas City Royals are, arguably, one of the most exciting franchises in the league today. They are young, talented, and have proven they can win at various levels on their way to the Major Leagues.
Exciting as that may be, when those young guys arrive in “the bigs”, they need leadership. They need someone to show them how to act like big leaguers. They need a guide along this journey that can show them, for lack of a better phrase, “The Royal Way”.
During the off-season, Dayton Moore and company were faced with a tough decision. They had a glutton of youth that was becoming ready for the next step and a solid group behind them that could be ready sooner than later. In particular, this created a problem in the outfield where they had two veteran players that showed promise. The decision needed to be made between Jeff Francoeur and Melky Cabrera. Many fans point out the inequity of the choice that was made.
A quick look at Baseball-Reference, accurate through 6/26…
Statistically speaking, it is obvious the wrong choice was made. Now, I know, hindsight is 20-20 and by no means do I feel that anyone could have predicted that Melky would have such a great year or that Frenchy would have such an average one. What I am here to say is simply that the choice of Francoeur over Cabrera cannot be measured by the typical numbers. Nor do I feel that it will be something we may ever be able to measure.
Jeff Francoeur was kept on this team for his ability to usher in a crop of young guys into the proper way of handling themselves. The intangibles around him as a man, a clubhouse personality, and a mentor all lead to the real reasons that he has a two year deal with this club.
Will he stick around beyond the trading deadline this year? That will rely largely on factors of the production of other players in the system and the maturity of the roster as a whole. If he should leave, who assumes his role as leadership both on and off the field?
Hos is a bit of a natural choice here. He was, in a very big way, the beginning of the youth movement in Kansas City. He has spent a large amount of time in the system with a lot of the young players that are beginning to surface. He’s young…very young, but his composure, quiet attitude, and expectation of winning will serve him well in the future.
Moose is a much different candidate for leader of this team. Throughout his minor league career, he has been known as a fiery personality that expects to win and is not afraid to tell anyone that they need to step it up a notch. He is a player that will be vocal and visible in a leadership role. In addition, he has earned a lot of respect for toning that side of his personality and game way down as he learns the ropes in Kansas City.
This is not only the most logical choice, but may be a change that is already in motion. Gordon has been the player that has possibly most benefited from the presence of Jeff Francoeur. They locker near each other, they are seen frequently together on road trips, and they have been seen working together in the field during warm ups. Gordon received a long term deal from the club, is a leader on the field offensively and defensively, and has shown a large amount of maturity over the last few seasons.
As this team grows and becomes more and more competitive, leadership will be needed to help culture a winning environment and teach the players how to keep their heads down, their noses clean, and their game on the field pristine. The right guys are in place to do just that and Jeff Fracoeur is a big part of ushering in a whole new era of Royals baseball.