Tag Archive | "Homer"

St. Louis Cardinal Fan Catches Allen Craig’s Homer In Milwaukee

Allen Craig lifted his 12th homerun of the season this afternoon in Milwaukee, extending the St. Louis Cardinals’ lead to 7-0 at the time.

The more impressive feat was that of the fan who covered a lot of ground to track down the ball and snag it out of the air.

Check out the video below and tip your cap to a Cards fan in a visiting ballpark giving maximum effort to bring home the souvenir.

Craig’s solo homer8/21/13: Allen Craig launches a solo homer to left-center field, giving the Cardinals a 7-0 lead over the Brewers in the top of the second

Embedly Powered

via Mlb

But who was the fan?  Well, thanks to the wonderful world of Social Media (and @gr33nazn on Twitter), we discover that it is none other than “Milwaukee’s Ballhawk” Shawn.  You can read more about The Ballhawk at his blog by clicking this link.  He claims to be a Cardinal fan, especially Ryan Franklin, and is sporting a Franklin shirsey in the video.

Well done, Ballhawk, well done.

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How to be an Educated All Star Voter and a Loyal Hometown Fan (Part 1)

First Base and Second Base

AllStarGame

 

Fans take different philosophies when it comes to voting for the All-Star game. Some are complete homers. Your player can be worthless in every form of evaluation imaginable, and you will still vote for him over the player from the rival team who is on pace to shatter every single-season record set. The inverse of that is the fan who combs every stat to pick the best player, even diving in obscure stats to find the tie-breaking advantage. The second group will question the first group’s knowledge of the game; the first group will call the second group sociopaths.

So this article asks the questions: can you be both an educated viewer and a homer? Is there a margin of error where players can fall into that then allows you to pick your player? And what is that margin of error.

I’m going to use WAR (fangraph) to help decide. And since both this article and every position is subjective, I’m going to go through the positions and help decide how acceptable vs criminal it would be to vote for the Cardinal/Royal at that position. It’d be too easy to say “the margin of error is 0.5 WAR, now everyone have a good day.” And not nearly as fun.

I posed the question to some of my friends recently, and though none of them outright said they will vote for their player just because he is their player, they found ways to logically come up with that conclusion. And some just outright stated that the All Star game isn’t important and is a popularity contest to start with (even though it stupidly does count, thanks Selig).

Some fans just vote for whoever they’ve heard of, regardless of what’s going on with them. Like that year Nomar led the vote even though he was on the DL. Or there’s ballot stuffing in San Francisco. So the game is viewed as king of a joke by some to start with. But this is about you, the educated fan, and how you can partake in the game, and still hold your head up high as both an educated fan and a loyal Cardinals and/or Royals fan.

FIRST BASE

Royals: Eric Hosmer – .272/.331/.359. WAR: 0.3

Hosmer is actually not having that bad of a season, since he’s getting on base at a fairly consistent rate. It’s just his slugging is so pathetically low. His ability to take walks is similar to last year, but his higher average this year has kicked up his ops to an almost respectable number.

AL Leader: Chris Davis – .335/.414/.697/. WAR: 3.7

Davis is a monster having a monstrous season. It’s just insane. He’s leading everyone, including Prince Fielder, by at least a million votes. And it’s especially impressive since he’s pretty new to the scene (at least in terms of name recognition).

If you vote for Hosmer: COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE. In fact, voting for anyone except Davis is unacceptable. If you were to vote for Hosmer, you could maybe justify it by claiming this may be an outlier year for Davis, but in that case your vote should probably default to Fielder, not Hosmer. Maybe you can say that Hosmer was a top prospect, and he’ll put it together eventually (???), so you want him to represent the AL. Otherwise, I’d just leave this one alone.

Cardinals: Allen Craig – .313/.357/.458. WAR: 0.7

Craig has an incredibly low WAR for having a pretty impressive slash, due to poor fielding and base running metrics. He’s currently 3rd in the voting behind Votto and Goldschmidt.

NL Leader: Joey Votto – .318/.437/.498. WAR: 2.9. It’s basically a coin toss between Votto and Goldie. I vote Votto since Goldschmidt is more than likely playing over his head. I think he may be an improved player, but not this improved.

If you vote for Craig: MILDLY UNACCEPTABLE. If you go by offensive numbers alone, Votto has him beat. Though you can maybe say it’s within a margin of error of being a homer. But if you add the other metrics in, it’s not much of a competition. However, the offensive numbers are close enough that I can understand why someone would vote Craig. A narrative that further favors for Craig is the amount of RBIs he has. Craig has 51 versus Votto’s 33 (Goldschmidt has 59 though). If you look at RBIs (and you probably shouldn’t), I can see that edge. But those numbers are probably more due to the fact that Craig has the on base machine Matt Carpenter hitting in front of him, while Votto has Zack Cozart.

 

SECOND BASE

Royals: Chris Getz – .212/.273/.288 (wow). WAR: 0.0

I like Elliot Johnson more than Getz starting. But both aren’t exactly impressive options though. Getz is the kind of player who occasionally has okay games, and it causes a distraction and takes focus off that he isn’t good. Having him anywhere near the All Star Game seems like a travesty.

AL Leader: Robinson Cano – .278/.350/.511. WAR: 3.0

Cano is leading Pedro by almost a million votes, but Pedroia is arguably putting up similar numbers at .319/.401/.436 WAR: 2.7. But The Yanks and Sox can duke out their rivalry at second base and feel safe they will have no threat coming from KC.

If you vote for Getz: WORDS CANNOT EXPLAIN HOW UNACCEPTABLE THAT IS. Like there literally is no justification. Besides you are just a homer and don’t care about having the best player out there. If you want to be respected and not called a homer when you maybe vote for Salvy Perez at Catcher (we’ll get to that later), then this is the bone you throw to people who criticize you. You say, “yeah but at least I didn’t vote for Getz at Second.”

Cardinals: Matt Carpenter – .320/.405/.467. WAR: 3.5 (wow again)

Carpenter is having a monster year so far. Great average, getting on base like crazy, and hitting lots of extra base hits. Add that to the fact that Matheny is using him very wisely in the lineup, and it’s really allowing Carpenter to live up to his full potential. He’s not a household name yet, but with more seasons like what he’s doing this year, he will be soon.

NL Leader: Brandon Phillips – .278/.330/.444. WAR: 1.7.

Phillips is honsestly having a fairly average year offensively. His WAR is elevated by his base running and stellar defense. Not only is he paling in comparison to Carpenter offensively, but is also trailing Marco Scutaro in offensive numbers. Name recognition is helping him to a great degree.

If you vote for Carpenter: COMPLETELY ACCEPTABLE AND ABSOLUTELY ENCOURAGED. This is the time that being a homer is needed. When you are a homer, you may know of a player having a good year and the national media hasn’t quite caught up yet. Carpenter is that guy. It’s kind of crazy how good he’s beien and how much better he is than the competition. The argument can be made, I suppose, that taking the players career in consideration is okay, which would bode in Phillips favor. But even with that in his corner, Carpenter is your man.

Next up: Shortstop and Third base

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No Shields Support

James Shields can’t buy a win.  A look at his last few starts highlights the problems that are plaguing the Royals.  Over his last 4 starts, Shields’ ERA is sitting at 2.48.  During this time, Shields has pitched 31 innings, walked only 5 batters and struck-out one shy of a batter per inning.  Fairly impressive numbers thus far in the month of May for the Royals newly acquired ace.  Despite his performance, James hasn’t won a game since April.  A lack of run support and a struggling bullpen is keeping the Royals from getting wins out of their best arm in the rotation.

JamesShields3

Going back to the May 6th start against the struggling Chicago White Sox, Shields gave up just 2 hits, 2 walks and no runs while striking out 9.  The Royals scored off of a double by Butler in the first and that would be all that Shields would need, shutting the Sox down for 8 innings.  Holland would come in to close off the game in the 9th and give up a walk and 4 hits allowing the Sox to tie the game and send it to extra innings.  Two innings and one home run later, the Royals lose a very winnable game.

Shields’ next start was against the Yankees who would score first off of a throwing error by Moustakas in the 3rd.  The Royals answered back with a run in the top of the third and a solo home run by Butler in the 4th, but that would be it for the Royals offense for the day.  A 2 run shot by Vernon Wells in the 5th handed Shields another tough loss in yet another very close game.

May 17th sent the Royals to Oakland.  The Athletics sent the very hittable Jarrod Parker to the mound.  David Lough doubled in what would be the Royals only run of the game in the 3rd.  Shields carried a shutout into the 7th inning when he gave up a solo shot to Josh Donaldson and then another in the 8th to Adam Rosales.  Game over.

Shields got his next start against the last place Houston Astros.  He gave up a 2 run homer in the 1st to J.D. Martinez.  Despite going on to strike out 7 Astros in the game, the 2 run lead would be enough to carry Houston through the game.  The Royals scored once in the third.

The Royals acquired James Shields to do exactly what he has been doing, keeping the runs to a minimum.  They aren’t paying him to score runs, that’s something the rest of the team can and should be doing.  Scoring 5 runs in 4 games behind their ace isn’t going to cut it.  The Royals have to win these close games to contend.  That means not letting the bull pen give away the win and it means scoring more than once a game.

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Royals Weekly Rundown: A-ced in Oakland, Butler’s Back

Well so much for the offensive revival.  After the Royals out-slugged the Angels to take two of three, they finish the week at 2-4 after getting swept by the A’s.  Nonetheless, there’s a silver lining in all of this.  The club still sits at .500 and a few Royals hitters are mashing up the month of May.

Best of the Week:  Billy Butler

What a difference a week makes.  Big Old Country Breakfast bounced back from last week’s worst to this weeks best including a celebratory 5-for-5, 5 RBI night against the Angels.  Butler hit safely in five of six games this week and .480 overall (12-for-25) with a homer and 10 RBI.  As a result, Butler’s average has risen 45 points from .228 to .273.

He joins Alex Gordon, who deserves honorable mention this week, as the Royals two hottest hitters.  Gordon also hit .480 this week (12-for-25) and now has hit safely in 14 of 16 games in the month of May.  Gordon’s current .343 average ties him with Boston’s Dustin Pedroia for third in the American League.

Worst of the Week:  A-ced in Oakland

What hurts isn’t so much that they were swept by a struggling team, it’s how they lost.  The Royals led late in all three games, but ultimately dropped three straight one-run games.  The Royals bullpen, arguably the club’s biggest strength, blew two of those leads in the eighth including Sunday night’s thanks to a 403 foot blast by Yoenis Cespedes.

Kansas City’s bullpen still ranks third in the AL with a 3.07 ERA, so I believe this weekend’s sweep highlights the issue of their struggling offense rather than their pitching.  On paper, the Royals lineup is as deep as any in the AL including three players hitting over .300 in Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Salvador Perez.

However, the Royals still rank 13th out of 15 in runs scored (only the Mariners and White Sox have scored less).  A lot of the struggles derive from the lack of production from the heart of the order.

Butler appears to have turned things around, but Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas are in the midst of a serious slump.  They hit a combined 5-for-49 last week, a frightening .102.

The Road Ahead:  Eastbound and Down

Kansas City begins a three-game series with Houston on Monday night to wrap up the road trip.  Make no mistake, these are games the Royals have to take advantage of if they want to keep pace with Cleveland and Detroit.

They finished off the week with a four-game home series against the Angels.

Probable Pitchers at Houston Astros:

Monday at 7:10 CT:  Jeremy Guthrie (5-1, 2.82 ERA) vs. Dallas Keuchel (0-1, 4.82 ERA)

Tuesday at 7:10 CT:  Wade Davis (3-3, 5.98 ERA) vs. Bud Norris (4-4, 4.32 ERA)

Wednesday at 7:10 CT:  James Shields (2-4, 2.45 ERA) vs. Jordan Lyles (1-1, 6.63 ERA)

Probable Pitchers vs. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim:

Thursday at 7:10 CT:  Ervin Santana (3-3, 2.77 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (0-7, 6.62 ERA)

Friday at 7:10 CT:  Luis Mendoza (1-2, 5.50 ERA) vs. Jason Vargas (3-3, 3.55 ERA)

Saturday at 1:10 CT:  Jeremy Guthrie (5-1, 2.82 ERA) vs.  TBA

Sunday at 1:10 CT:  Wade Davis (3-3, 5.98 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (3-3, 3.72 ERA)

Follow Adam Rozwadowski on Twitter @adam_roz

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Cardinals/Phillies: Three Things To Walk With

The Cardinals leave the second leg of their 10-game road trip from Philadelphia in a series that wasn’t a complete loss, but also was an example of problems of both the past and current showing their head. Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn authored fantastic efforts in two wins, yet in the games in-between two winnable games were booted. On Friday, Jaime Garcia looked like the version of him that has been most criticized; the one that was killed on the road. However, Sunday night’s loss was the most detrimental, with another late inning failure that lost a winnable game and continued to keep the club floating around .500.

Carlos+Beltran+St+Louis+Cardinals+v+Philadelphia+kSa0KtCZqT6l

Yet at the same time, they did manage to split another series on this tough East Coast road swing, and remain close to the picture atop the National League Central. How long they can remain there however, considering the amount of issues that are being to peak late in games, is anybody’s guess. As they begin a return to Washington DC, here are three things to look back at from the series that was.

 

1. Bogged Down: The resounding moment from the weekend was yet another implosion from Mitchell Boggs on Sunday night. Entering a tie game in the eighth inning, Boggs was blitzed to the tone of four runs on four hits, including the game breaking RBI single from Ben Revere, and the following nail in the coffin, three-run homer from Eric Kratz (who entered the at-bat hitting .190 on the year). This raised Boggs ERA on the year to 12.46, and became his fourth late-inning collapse in three weeks.

If there’s one thing to take away from the sudden assault that ended Sunday night’s ballgame is that it cleared up the dilemma of who is going to close games down, because Boggs has to be out of the picture now. Whether it’s a mechanical issue or something more, it can’t be worked out in high pressure situations, and Mike Matheny has to recognize that. Boggs broke down and began throwing by the time Kratz hit his home run, and looked lost in the woods. The frustration of his effort has derailed him to the point where it’s clear that he can’t pitch the last inning, but what type of game situation will be safe to utilize him in at all? How this situation is handled in the upcoming games will show a lot about if there is potentially another long-term issue in the pen regarding utilizing Boggs in any capacity.

2. Crisis Averted: On Sunday night, Matt Adams stepped to the plate having already reached base twice on the night, and sporting a .565 average and with the bases loaded ahead of him. Although it has become nearly a habit for him to destroy the ball in any given situation, this time he struck out looking on a Chad Durbin cutter, which if he’d connected on in his usual fashion, would have taken the push for more at-bats to him to a code red explosion level. He’s hit in every situation thus far, and went 2 for 3 on Sunday with his third double of the year. While he continues to be a dangerous presence off the bench, and a once per series starter, the torches that his growing group of supporters for an everyday position are waving may have gotten thrown into Mike Matheny’s office if he’d come through in that moment. Considering the amount of controversy on the who’s, when’s and where’s that are already in play, that would have been the last thing needed right now for him.

3. Beltran’s Back: While the offense as a whole continues to struggle to get on the same page at the same time, perhaps Carlos Beltran had his turning point versus a team that he has been particularly brutal on over his career. Beltran launched three home runs in the first three games of the series, raising his career totally vs. the Phils to 30, his most against any team in his career. For the weekend, he hit .437 (7 for 16), and has hit .375 over the past week.

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Home Runs Plague Kansas City Royals During Early Success

Fourteen games in, the Royals are 8-6 and only a half a game out of first in the A.L. Central. Overall, the team is playing well, but so far they’ve given up 18 home runs, which is fourth in the A.L. and 6th in the Majors. Meanwhile, they’ve hit just five home runs, which is last in the A.L. and 29th in the Majors, just ahead of the woeful Miami Marlins with only three team home runs.

Jeremy_Guthrie

Of the 18 home runs given up, the starting rotation gave up 13, with Jeremy Guthrie (5 HR) and Ervin Santana (4 HR) being the top offenders. The bullpen gave up five homers, with Kelvin Herrera giving up three of them, all in one inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves.

Of the 18 homers given up, 15 are solo shots, two are two-run homers and one is a three-run homer. In the games the Royals didn’t give up a home run, they’re 4-2. In games where they only gave up solo shots, they’re 3-2. In multi-run homer games, they’re 1-2. What’s interesting are the games where the opposing team hit multiple solo home runs in a game. In those games, the Royals are 2-1.

So why is the Royals pitching staff giving up so many home runs? For Guthrie, it appears he throws a bad pitch once in a while and hitters take advantage of it. So far, he’s 2-0 with a 3.20 ERA with 17 strikeouts and three walks, giving him a 5.67 SO/BB ratio.

Over his career, Santana has a tendency to give up homers and he’s keeping true to form. But he’s got a 2.45 ERA and he’s struck out 19 batters while walking five, giving him a 3.80 SO/BB ratio.

As for Kelvin Herrera’s three homers he gave up, the Royals think he tipped his pitches when he gave up his three home runs against Atlanta. Herrera is a fireball pitcher and they tend to give up home runs.

While the Royals are giving up a lot of home runs this season, how does it compare to last season? In the first 14 games of 2012, the Royals gave up 14 home runs, seven of which were solo shots, six were two-run homers and one was a three-run homer. When they didn’t give up any home runs, they went 2-5. When they only gave up solo homers in a game, they were 1-1. When they gave up a multi-run homer, they were 0-5. Meanwhile, the Royals hit 12 home runs, seven more than this year. But after 14 games, they were 3-11 and in the middle of their 12-game losing streak. Compared to this year, the 2012 Royals gave up more multi-run homers, their team ERA was 4.66, they struck out 105 batters and walked 51, which gave them a 2.06 SO/BB ratio.

The 2013 Royals team ERA is 3.30, which is third in the A.L and fifth in the Majors. They have 122 strikeouts, which is third in the A.L. and fourth in the Majors. The Royals gave up 33 walks, which is second best in the A.L. and fourth best in the Majors. This gives the Royals an impressive team 3.70 SO/BB ratio. Yes, the Royals pitching staff gives up home runs, but otherwise they’re pitching well.

But how long can the Royals pitching staff keep up their low ERA and SO/BB ratio? So far, the Royals are lucky, mainly giving up solo home runs. But they can’t run on luck all season. If they start walking more batters and throwing less strikeouts, more runners will get on base, which increases the chance of multi-run homers. Pitching coach Dave Eiland needs to work with the pitching staff and cut down on the home runs. Meanwhile, hitting coaches Jack Maloof and Andre David need to get the offense hitting more home runs. If this doesn’t happen, the 2013 season could end up being like the 2012 season.

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Spring stats: starters scuffle in the desert

2011 saw the Royals’ top hitting prospects take a step forward, while many of their pitching prospects took a step sideways, down or out.

Spring training saw a similar result, as many of the position players the Royals are banking on flourished, while pitching remained the big question mark.

As of Friday, the games count. But the results from spring training are worth some analysis as the Royals head north with high aspirations.

The Royals’ opening day starter, Bruce Chen, probably deserves a pass this spring. He’s been through this countless times, and he wasn’t pitching to win a spot in the rotation. He was doing what he needs to do to be ready for the season.

Courtesy of Minda Haas

That said, Chen was not good in Arizona. He surrendered 37 hits in 22 innings, including an alarming six homers. Opponents batted .378 against him, and his ERA was an unsightly 9.41.

Another lock to start, Luke Hochevar hopes to put his roller-coaster highs and lows behind him. He was very solid in spring, surrendering just a 2.84 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. Best of all, he allowed just one homer in 19 innings pitched.

The stud of the spring was undoubtedly Luis Mendoza. I predicted back in late February that Mendoza could provide the surprise boost the Royals pitching staff needs. The 28-year-old righty got credit for four wins in the spring. Opponents could barely scratch out a hit against him – 11 in 16 innings. His ERA was just 0.54 and his WHIP was 0.84.

If Mendoza was the stud of the spring, then Mike Montgomery was the dud. While KC had a list of about 8 guys who were seriously in contention for rotation slots, the door would certainly have been held open for the 22-year-old Montgomery. But Montgomery flubbed the opportunity and manager Ned Yost was noticeably disappointed in the big lefty. I wrote last week about why Montgomery might be headed in the wrong direction (link).

Not far behind Montgomery was second-year candidate Danny Duffy. The Royals stood by Duffy during his painful learning experience in year one. But this spring, he looked no less lost than in 2011. He struggled his way to an 8.31 ERA and a 1.92 WHIP.

Duffy was terrible, and his main competition, Felipe Paulino, was equally bad. Paulino will start the season rehabbing an injury, most likely in Omaha, and he’ll have to earn a return to KC after posting a 7.71 spring ERA.

Horrifyingly, Duffy and Paulino were not the worst pitchers in Surprise (aside from Chen). That honor goes to Jonathan Sanchez, who got bombed this spring after coming over from San Francisco, supposedly to give the Royals an “ace.”

Sanchez gave up 17 hits and 13 runs in just 11.1 innings. His 2.03 WHIP led all Royals with more than 10 innings pitched. He was even worse in the exhibition game in San Diego, where he allowed two home runs in just two innings.

Last year’s All Star rep Aaron Crow made the switch to the rotation, made one start, then switched back after Joakim Soria blew out his arm. Crow was solid, allowing opponents to bat just .238 in the split role. He looks comfortable back in the bullpen and will look to put to rest fears that he was a half-season wonder.

Crow’s fellow closers, Jonathan Broxton and Greg Holland were equally solid in Arizona. Likely bullpen mates Tim Collins, Louis Coleman were ok as well.

Two other pleasant revelations were relievers Kelvin Herrera and Jose Mijares. Herrera has been lights-out at every level, and he was no less dominant in Surprise. He struck out 15 hitters in 13 innings, and his ERA was just 1.38. He gave up just five walks and no homers. I expected him to start the season in Omaha, but the Royals found they just couldn’t leave him behind.

Mijares also will start the year in KC after posting a 0.82 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in Arizona. He struck out just six in 11 innings, but hopefully will continue to lock down left-handed hitters in the big leagues.

One guy KC appeared ready to give up on made a solid case for himself in Arizona – Sean O’Sullivan. The big righty allowed opponents to bat just .268 against him, and his WHIP was a an impressive 1.13. He’ll start the season in Omaha, but hopefully will prove a reliable insurance plan as both a starter and reliever if needed in KC.

The relievers performed about as well as expected in Arizona. Crow shifted to the pen when Soria was lost, and Herrera and Mijares should make the bullpen collection dynamite.

But the rotation candidates, other than Hochevar, performed worse than was imaginable. Were it not for the incredible work by Mendoza, the spring would be a complete failure for the starters.

Only time will tell if Mendoza is as good, and Sanchez is as bad, as the numbers from Surprise would say they are.

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2012 Key Players: Moustakas hopes to establish himself in year two

When Mike Moustakas banged a homer in just his second game as a big leaguer, hopes soared. And when he had a .385 average with four walks after four games, it looked like he was on his way to a great rookie season.

Mike Moustakas by Erika Lynn

But things went sour from that point on. By the time September rolled around, you had to wonder if Moustakas could hit big league pitching. He had not homered since his second game and had just 18 RBIs and an anemic .232 average.

But the big third baseman had struggled to adjust at every level, so the Royals stuck with him.

The show Moustakas put on in September is, the Royals hope, a preview of things to come. He batted .352 for the month and popped 4 homers, driving in 12 runs.

We all know what we WANT from Mike Moustakas. We WANT another George Brett. We want 30 homers and 100 RBIs and a .300 average every season.

But rather than talk about how it’s unfair to expect Moose to be George Brett, Royals fans might look around to see what other, mere mortals are doing at third base.

More specifically, Royals fans can ask “What are other teams in the division getting from their third basemen?”

The Royals sights should be set on becoming the best team in the division. They need some of the parts of their whole to become the best in the division. And believe it or not, Moustakas is not that far off from being the best third baseman in the division.

This season, the Tigers plan to play Miguel Cabrera at third. No one can expect Moose to be Cabrera at the plate, but Cabrera’s work at third remains to be seen. This experiment may not turn out as well as the Tigers hope.

The third basemen in the division consist of, basically, four youngsters trying to develop into solid big leaguers, and one of the best hitters of the last decade who isn’t really a natural third baseman.

For Chicago, 24-year-old Brent Morel has a couple of years of big league experience to build on, but hasn’t blossomed yet. In Cleveland, 23-year-old Lonnie Chisenhall hopes to take the position from last year’s starter, Jack Hannahan. And in Minnesota, the Twins look to 26-year-old Danny Valencia to provide the power they lack in their lineup.

It may not tell a lot to analyze last year’s numbers. But based on them, Moustakas wasn’t far from the others in the division, even with his struggles to adjust to the majors. If you average the numbers posted last season by Morel, Hannahan, Valencia and Brandon Inge of Detroit, you get numbers Moustakas could easily match.

The averages of Morel, Hannahan, Valencia and Inge, compared to Moustakas:

Games: Others – 123, Mousatakas – 89
Hits: Others – 93.5, Moustakas – 89
Doubles: Others – 18, Moustakas – 18
Home Runs: Others – 9, Moustakas – 5
RBIs: Others – 44, Moustakas – 30
Walks: Others – 31, Moustakas – 22
Average: Others – .238, Moustakas – .263

If Moustakas plays 123 games this season, there is no reason to think he can’t blow those numbers out of the water.

Interestingly, the guy being drummed out of a job – Hannahan – actually put up the best OBP, SLG, OPS and WAR: .331/.338/.719 and 2.2. The guy who played the most – Valencia – posted the lowest WAR (-1.1) even though he led the group with 15 homers and 72 RBIs.

The Royals find themselves in the same position as the Twins, White Sox and Indians. Each has a third baseman with minimal experience who they hope can make dramatic improvement.

Moustakas has started slowly this spring, but he won’t be moved out of the lineup by anything but injury this year. The Royals, like three other teams in the division, will wait patiently for their third-base prospect to develop.

Cabrera may post big offensive numbers this year, but the Royals hope Moustakas is the division’s best long-term.

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Esky For Yuni: Even Up?

The Zack Greinke trade of last December was aptly dubbed a “blockbuster,” meaning that several players changed hands in the transition. So to evaluate the trade requires more than just a one-to-one comparison.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

One of the centerpieces of the trade for the Royals was Alcides Escobar. Their arsenal of top prospects lacked a hot shortstop, and fans lusted for a change from whipping boy Yuniesky Betancourt.

Betancourt was not a centerpiece of the trade. He was a throw-in. Or more accurately, he was a throw-out. The Royals wanted rid of Betancourt, and the Brewers were willing to swap shortstops to get Greinke.

But what if the Royals had had the opportunity to trade Betancourt for Escobar even up during last off-season?

Certainly they would have jumped at the chance. Escobar’s struggles in his debut season in Milwaukee hadn’t completely tarnished his top-10 prospect ranking. Betancourt, on the other hand, couldn’t even get credit for hitting three of the Royals’ four grand slams in 2010. No one liked him, and his chances of emerging from the doghouse in KC were nil.

Looking back now, however, would a trade of Betancourt for Escobar, even up, be such a good idea?

It didn’t always look like a good idea. Like when Betancourt hit .333 with a homer and 5 RBI’s in the National League Championships Series. It didn’t when he scored five runs against the D-Backs in the previous playoff series.

But it did when he muffed an easy ground ball that opened the floodgates against the Cardinals in game 5. And it did when balls that would seem playable by average shortstops eluded his reach repeatedly throughout the playoffs.

Such is life with Betancourt. But under close analysis, is Escobar any better?

Comparison of a few of their numbers would show there wasn’t much difference between the two during the 2011 campaign.

Escobar’s batting average during the first two months of the season would have embarrassed Mario Mendoza. But he heated up to finish with a .254 mark. Yuni, meanwhile, posted a .252 average. No difference there.

Escobar’s .290 OBP was just 10th among AL shortstops – well below average. But Betancourt, who has a career .292 OBP, managed just .271 this year. Advantage Escobar.

Slugging is where Yuni has a decided advantage. Like him or not, you can’t debate that Yuni has developed some pop. His slugging percentage in 2011 was an acceptable .381. Not great but just .007 behind someone named Derek Jeter. And last year, he slugged .405. Escobar on the other hand? An anemic .343 last year. Advantage Betancourt.

After knocking 16 homers in 2010, Betancourt popped 13 more this season. After Ned Yost bragged about Escobar’s power in the spring, his shortstop managed just 4. Big advantage Betancourt.

But while Betancourt begins to look like the better player, we can’t forget to look at the total package. Escobar far outshines Betancourt in the eye test. Who can forget the lazy showing on fly balls? Or the strikeouts with runners on base? Or the lack of speed or range?

Those headache-inducing defensive statistics seemed to back up the perception that Escobar is the far superior fielder. He scored higher in fielding percentage and in putouts + assists per 9 innings. Yost boasted that Escobar’s “runs are in his glove,” meaning that he is taking away an inordinate number of runs from the opponent. His arm is certainly one of the best, and he seems to move much better than Betancourt.

And speaking of moving, Escobar can move on the base paths as well. He was third among AL shortstops with 26 stolen bases. Betancourt has just 30 steals in his 7-year career. Escobar also led AL shortstops with 8 triples. Betancourt has a decent number of triples in his career, but just five in the last two years combined.

So in addition to fielding, Escobar has a definite advantage in two areas – 1) speed and overall athleticism, and 2) age.

Escobar is just 24 and looks lithe and agile. Betancourt is 29 but looks like he’s 39.

Escobar’s stock appears to be trending up, while Betancourt’s is decidedly headed down. Escobar took off after his horrid start and improved drastically over the course of his second season in the bigs. Betancourt, on the other hand, seemed on the decline. I have little doubt that Betancourt will be replaced within the next couple of years and probably won’t even be in the big leagues when Escobar peaks.

Before the season, I wrote the following:

With the proper expectations, Escobar has a great chance of being one of the best in team history. If Escobar could hit .250 with 10 homers and 30-plus stolen bases in a season, he’d fall right in with the best offensive shortstops the Royals have ever had. If he plays excellent defense, it would be first time in a decade the team had that at short.

If he performs any better than that, he could go down as the greatest shortstop in Royals history.

(See the whole article about KC’s history of shortstops)

While he didn’t exactly blow anyone’s mind with his play last year, I’ll stand by that statement. I saw enough potential from June to September to believe Escobar is a significant upgrade over Betancourt. I believe he is Kansas City’s answer at short, and I believe he will be a fixture on great Royals teams for the next decade.

The same could never have been said about Yuni.

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Hey, Watch This!

When this phrase is uttered you can bet someone is about to do something that might not end well. Watching the Royals can be like that. In fact I bet some of you didn’t know the Royals played baseball games after the All-Star Break. I personally have not seen one since 2006, but I hear that they happen. Usually by this time I have moved on to following teams that are playing or play-off spots. I hear about September Call Ups and other late season happenings with the Royals through regular media outlets. This year might be different for me. I have come up with a few reasons to watch.

photo by Minda Haas

The Trade Deadline: These few weeks leading up to July 31st are some of my favorite of the year. You never know what’s going to happen. Not just with the Royals, but with all teams in baseball. Dayton Moore has said in more than one interview that the Royals won’t be all that active. I personally do not believe anything a baseball executive tells the media, especially when it involves trades or negotiations. I could write an article about what I think might happen. But I find such articles as lame as NFL Mock Drafts. As in, I don’t read them, so I won’t write them. What I do know is the trade deadline can be like Christmas. It could also be like a kick in the jewels. Like learning Yuneski Betancourt is on your favorite team, and that your team gave up some pitching to get him. You don’t know what’s going to happen, and that’s why it’s fun. This will be my first Trade Deadline with Twitter. That should add to the entertainment.

Moore Prospects: When are Mike Montgomery, Lorenzo Cain and Johnny Giavotella getting called up? Moves at the trade deadline will have an impact on this. I’ll be upset if they just get a September cup of coffee.

Rookies: Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, who as I was editing this article hit a game winning 2 run homer against the Twins, Alcides Escobar, and the young arms in the bullpen. How will they improve? Danny Duffy certainly has some things to work on. How will they adjust to playing more games than they’ve played their entire lives? How will they handle the losing? Will they make adjustments? Do you notice questions are constantly surrounding this team?

Kyle Davies: Just kidding. In fact, I plan to not watch, listen, or attend any Kyle Davies start. As long as he in this rotation you cannot tell me the front office is actually serious about contending.

The Schedule: No interleague play from here on out. That means the Royals will be playing the majority of their AL Central schedule in the second half. The Royals still have nine games left with the Indians. I single out the Indians because they are relatively the same age and development of the Royals. They destroyed the Royals earlier in the spring. The Royals really need to battle back against them, and at least give me hope that the division title doesn’t go through Cleveland in the next few years. The schedule also includes back to back series against the Yankees and Red Sox August 15th-21st. And just to make things more fun, 41 of the Royals final 71 games are on the road.

Finally, you should watch the Royals because it’s baseball. But be careful, you might hurt yourself.

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