Tag Archive | "Jermaine Dye"

Billy Butler Outstanding DH 2012

Major League Baseball announced today that Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals has been voted the winner of the 2012 Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.  Butler received 80 first-place votes out of 84 ballots cast to garner the honor for the first time in his six-year career.  He becomes the second Royal to be named the league’s top designated hitter, joining three-time winner Hal McRae who took home the award in 1976, 1980 and 1982 while playing for Kansas City.  Edwin Encarnacion finished second with 35 second-place votes after slugging a career-best 42 home runs and 110 RBI for the Toronto Blue Jays this past season.

Butler batted .313 (192-for-614) with 32 doubles, one triple, 29 home runs, 107 RBI and 72 runs scored in 161 games in 2012.  He notched the eighth season in franchise history with at least a .300 batting average, 25 homers and 100 RBI, the first Kansas City player to do so since Carlos Beltran in 2003, and his 29 homers were the most by a Royal since Jermaine Dye launched 33 home runs during the 2000 season.  Among qualifying designated hitters with a minimum of 100 at-bats at the position, the Florida native finished first in games played (138), at-bats (538), runs scored (61), base hits (170), doubles (29), RBI (93), batting average (.315), on-base percentage (.371) and slugging percentage (.501).  In addition, Butler was second in homers (23) and stood third in walks (42).  The 26-year-old established career-bests in games, at-bats, hits, homers, RBI, slugging and total bases (313), leading his club in all three Triple Crown categories.  The righty-hitting Butler finished fifth in hits, sixth in RBI, was tied for seventh in total bases and was eighth in batting average among all A.L. hitters.

Billy added numerous accomplishments to his career resume after posting one of his finest offensive seasons to date, including being named as the Royals representative in the 2012 All-Star Game in Kansas City; he was named the A.L. Player of the Week for the period ending July 29th; he earned his first-career Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award on November 8th, the first Royals player to win the award since Dean Palmer in 1998; and he was named the Les Milgram Royals Player of the Year by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) for the third time in his career (also 2009-10), joining George Brett, Amos Otis and Mike Sweeney as the only three-time winners of the honor.

Now in its 38th season, the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award was renamed by Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig in a September 2004 ceremony at Safeco Field in honor of the retiring Edgar Martinez.  Ballots are cast by club beat writers, broadcasters and A.L. public relations departments with nominees including all players with a minimum of 100 at-bats as a designated hitter.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

Butler Named 2012 Les Milgram Award Winner

Kansas City, MO (November 7, 2012) – The Kansas City Royals have announced that designated hitter Billy Butler has been named the 2012 Les Milgram Player of the Year.  The award was voted on by the Kansas City Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

Butler, 26, earned his third Les Milgram Player of the Year award (also 2009 and 2010) after leading the Royals with a .313 average, 29 home runs and 107 RBI.  Butler is the fourth player to win the award at least three times, joining George Brett (1975-76, 1979-80, 1985, 1988, 1990 and 1992), Amos Otis (1971, 1973 and 1978) and Mike Sweeney (2000, 2002 and 2005).  He recorded the eighth season in franchise history with at least a .300 average, 25 home runs and 100 RBI and the first since 2003.  The 2012 All-Star finished fifth in the American League with 192 hits, sixth in RBI and eighth in average.  His 29 home runs were the most by a Royal since Jermaine Dye hit 33 in 2000.  Butler tied for third in baseball with 10 home runs in the eighth inning or later.  The 10 late-inning home runs included three game-tying blasts and three go-ahead home runs.

The Royals announced Monday that shortstop Alcides Escobar won the 2012 Joe Burke Special Achievement award while Greg Holland was announced as the 2012 Bruce Rice Pitcher of the Year yesterday.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

Projecting the Royals Pitcher and Player of the Year

Each year, not matter how dreadful it is, a player and pitcher of the year is named by the Kansas City Royals. While it’s far from a scientific process, I thought it would be fun to try to project who will win that award in 2012. Now I want to be clear, this is not who should win the award. As is the case with most things the Royals do, what should happen and what will happen are not necessarily the same. Nonetheless, here are the contestants.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Alex Gordon- If this were a scientific process, Gordon would be the winner as he leads the team in WAR at 4.8. In fact, in terms of value, no one on the team is within 29% of his 4.8 WAR. After a terribly slow start to the season, Gordon now leads the majors with 47 doubles and has put together yet another spectacular defensive season. He’s quietly (at least outside of Kansas City) turned into one of the best defensive corner outfielders in the American League. Gordon also leads the team in walks and runs while placing second in hits, OBP, and triples. The negative, if there is one for Gordon, is that advanced metrics agree with the eye test that Gordon is not very clutch. In terms of advanced metrics, he is the least clutch player on the team with a clutch rating of -1.5. Furthermore, is WPA (Win Probability Added) is actually -0.5 for the season.

Billy Butler- If this was simple the award for offensive player of the year, you’d have to give it to Butler.  Butler leads the club in all three Triple Crown categories plus OBP and Slugging %. Butler’s 137 OPS+ is easily the best on the team and it really isn’t close. He’s most likely going to finish with .300/30/100 for the first time in Kansas City since Jermaine Dye in 2000. Unfortunately, this is a player of the year award and that includes defense, which would be the down side for Butler and why is WAR ranks Butler as the 4th best player on the team. The only real question with Butler is whether is offensive statistics are impressive enough to override his lack of contribution in the field. That may very well be determined by his production in the last 17 games of the season.

Alcides Escobar- If we’d gotten the type of defense we expected from Escobar this season he may just be a runaway winner. Unfortunately, he has 17 errors and seems to have regressed just a little bit in the field. Of course that may be because he’s been so focused on what has been an outstanding year at the plate. Escobar leads in the team with seven triples and 29 stolen bases, is second in batting average, and surprisingly third in OBP. WAR rates Escobar as the Royals second best player, partially because he does still add something with his glove, but mostly because there just aren’t very many shortstops that can hit like him. He has a very good chance to finish the season with a .300 average, 30 stolen bases and 40 extra base hits. No one has done that in Kansas City since Carlos Beltran in 2003.

And the winner is…

I think it ends up being Gordon if only because Dayton Moore loves to feel like he’s smart and it would make him feel like a genius to have gotten Gordon’s contract done. Butler could probably only win the award by breaking Balboni’s record which would take ten home runs over the next 17 games…not happening.

PITCHER OF THE YEAR

Kelvin Herrera- Should middle relievers really be considered? Well, WAR thinks Herrera is the best pitcher on the club, so I’d say so. In 69 appearances, Herrera has a 2.43 ERA. Depending on which site you read, he may be the (consistently) hardest thrower in all of baseball. I don’t believe the Royals have the ability to recognize a pitcher with only 4 wins and 1 save, but Herrera should win the award regardless.

Greg Holland- Holland was arguably the best closer in baseball in August, and though he’s struggled a bit down the stretch he still sports a 2.98 ERA with 13 saves in 60 appearances. Holland’s most impressive stat? He’s struck out 84 batters in just 60 innings. He probably needs a couple more saves, and no more blow ups, to win the award. One thing that may help are his six wins, at least in the Royals eyes.

Jeremy Guthrie- Do I say this tongue-in-cheek? Kind of. Guthrie has been outstanding since the Royals acquired him for Jonathan Sanchez. The club is one game over .500 since they traded for him on July 20 and they’re 7-3 in games Guthrie has started including three games in which they only scored 2 runs. Guthrie would probably need to win his last three starts and lower his ERA below 3 (currently at 3.23) to have a real shot, but it plays right into the Dayton Moore making himself look smart angle.

And the winner is…

I believe in Greg Holland so I’m going to assume he finishes the year strong and wins the award with 18+ saves and a sub-3 ERA. He may not be the most deserving pitcher but he’ll have the statistics to make the club feel better about selecting him.

Posted in Featured, RoyalsComments (0)

No-More-Glass.com: A plea from fans asking David Glass to sell the Royals

Years of losing and futility by the Kansas City Royals prompted Royals fans Joe Accurso and Nick Palmer to create a website called No-More-Glass.com. They raised $5,100 to place a half-page ad in the August 23 Sports section of The Kansas City Star. The ad is an open letter to Royals owner David Glass to sell the team to another owner.

In the letter, signed by Accurso, he thanks Glass for keeping the team in Kansas City. Then Accurso points out the losing seasons, the perpetual “youth movement,” the present monetary value of the Royals and how teams in similar markets have played in the post season since Glass’ tenure. The letter ends with Accurso imploring Glass to immediately sell the team to a local ownership group.

While the letter hasn’t got a response from David Glass, it did get the attention of local Kansas City media outlets and several websites and blogs. The letter also got a response from Kevin Uhlich, Royals senior vice president for business operations. In an article in the Star, Uhlich said, “Nobody wants it more than our chairman (Glass) and (general manager) Dayton Moore. There is no lack of commitment. It’s sad there are those who want to spin it differently.”

In the same article, Accurso said, “I’m not naive enough to think I can write a letter, Glass will read it and say, ‘I should sell the team.’ But I felt like, ‘Can I take some initiative and at least get a conversation started?’”

And it is a worthy conversation, even if David Glass has no desire to sell the team. If Glass did sell the team, would it bring back a winning culture and attitude to the Royals?

In the early years of Glass’ tenure, he ran the Royals like Wal-Mart: stocking the roster with marginal young players at a low cost and trading away star players like Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye and Johnny Damon when they were up for free agency. There were times when the team would overpay for journeyman veterans like Juan Gonzalez and Jose Guillen, wasting money that would be better spent drafting players in the later rounds.

But when Dayton Moore came aboard in 2006, the team invested and spent more money in its Minor League system, the amateur draft, front office positions, and player scouting and development. And last offseason, the Royals signed long-term deals with Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez and Alcides Escobar.

And while the investment produced one of the top minor league systems in baseball, the Major League results are a bust. Since 2006, the Royals have been under .500 every year and will likely finish below .500 this year. And unless the team improves their starting rotation through free agency or a trade this offseason, 2013 might be another sub .500 season.

And what if Glass sold the team like Accurso desires? Selling a baseball team isn’t like selling a 2006 Toyota Camry on Craigslist. Potential buyers have to place a bid and are vetted by Major League Baseball and the owners of the other baseball clubs. Then the winner of the bid has to get a three quarters majority vote from owners to buy the team. This can be a long, arduous process, like the sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even if a sale of the Royals went smoothly, it would take a while for the team to be sold to another owner.

And what kind of owner would the Royals get? Many fans want a Mr. K type of owner, who lives in the Kansas City area and are committed to a winning ballclub. But what if the new owner(s) lived outside Kansas City and after a few years they decide to move the team? Are you ready for the Charlotte Royals? It’s unlikely, but possible. Even if Mr. Glass lives in Bentonville, AR and appears distant and aloof, he at least wouldn’t move the team to Charlotte or another city.

I admire Accurso’s and Palmer’s passion for the Royals and their desire for a winning ballclub. And trust me, I’m getting tired of the losing as much as they are. They live in the Kansas City area, where they’re surrounded by frustrated Royals fans. Try living in Southwest Missouri, an area awash in a sea of Cardinal red. When you see Cardinals fans wearing 2011 World Champions and Rally Squirrel shirts, it reminds me the Royals have lost a generation of fans in Southwest Missouri. And it’s not getting any better when the Royals are desitned for another losing season and the Cardinals are in the playoff hunt once again.

I don’t doubt Mr. Glass’ desire of wanting a winning ballclub in Kansas City. But how committed is he? Is he committed enough to move to Kansas City and show up at Kauffman Stadium every day, overseeing the team? Is he willing to spend the money in the offseason for starting pitching or risk trading a prized prospect to get a number one or two starting pitcher? Is he willing to spend the big bucks on Scott Boras clients like Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas when they reach free agency? Yes, Mr. Glass has invested more money in the team the last several years, but playing it safe is not going to make the Royals a winning ballclub.

If the Royals were playing above .500 baseball and in the playoff hunt more years than not, fans could care less if David Glass owned the team and he lived in New York City. But with the perennial losing, countless draft busts (especially on the pitching side) and PR faux pas like the Frank White firing, Mr. Glass has set himself up as part of the blame of the losing culture of the Kansas City Royals. But Glass isn’t going anywhere and unless he takes risks and increases payroll, he’s not going to see a winning Royals team in his lifetime.

Posted in Featured, RoyalsComments (0)

A powerful breakfast

As a guy who has lacked in home run power over the beginning of his career in Kansas City, Billy Butler, has taken the bull by the horns this season setting a new career high in home runs only 111 games into the 2012 season.  Butler is on pace to become the first Royal to hit 30 home runs in a season since Jermaine Dye did it in 2000. A 12 year drought could be broken by a player who for most of his young career has been criticized for not having enough power for not only his stature but also his position being designated hitter.

The power has changed from double to home runs this season mainly because instead of relying on his upper body to do all the work at the plate Butler has worked hard to get his legs stronger over the last 9 months and using them at the plate has equated into more lift on balls that are now carrying over the fence instead of bouncing off of the warning track.  One stat that has not been given enough credit was his ability to hit the double.  Trailing only New York Yankee second basemen in doubles since the beginning of the 2009 season, Butler has 158 two baggers, according to Baseball-Reference.  That is an astounding number that seems to have been pushed away because they are not turning into home runs. Everyone believes that if you have to power to hit that many doubles then you have the power to hit home runs. It does not work that way because it is not about the power or strength but the swing that the hitter has.  Over the first parts of his career Butler seemed to not lift the ball when it was needed and would use a more level swing that resulted in line drives in the gaps instead of towering fly balls into the stands.  But until the last two season Butler simply was not supposed to be the guy who hit the ball over the wall and gave the team the offensive lift they need. He has been asked to be a hitter and a hitter he has been.  But now he needs to continue to show the power he has shown so far in 2012.

On pace for 34 home runs this season two shy of the club record of 36 set in 1985 by the powerful Steve Balboni. The amount of home runs is not what stands out the most in the case of Butler.  The fact that he recognized that as the hitting leader of this team the best way to do that is lead by example.  In the off season he saw that he needed to work on his weakness of strength in his lower body which would help get more lift on the baseball and turn doubles in the gaps into home runs into the seats.

The philosophy that both Butler and hitting coach Kevin Seitzer have taken in the 2012 sea on seems to be working not only in the power department but a continued success to all fields for Butler. His doubles have gone down but that is what happens when the ball that were hitting the fence are now traveling over the fence.  To ask a guy to hit 30 home runs for the first time in his career and continue a pace of 47 doubles per year for the last three seasons would be outrageous.  The statistic that continues to slipped the minds of critics of Butler is the fact that the man is only 26 years old.  By comparison to other designated hitters of past that people would like to see Bulter become Edgar Martinez did not hit 30 home runs in a season until he was 37 years old.  he did flirt with 30 home runs in 1995 which still was when he was 33 years old.

Comparing the two a bit more in Martinez’s first 6 seasons in the major leagues he hit 91 home runs, 204 doubles, with 381 RBI while having a batting average of .290.  Now Butler in his first six seasons, which as of right now is 13 at bats less than Martinez had at this point in his career, has hit 97 home runs, 203 doubles, with 445 RBI and a batting average of .298, according to Baseball-Reference. If Butler continues to improve on an already good beginning to his career and progresses faster than Martinez did in Seattle than the Royals could have a once in a lifetime statistic wonder on their hands.

Everyone knew that Butler was going to be a hitter but hitters do not alway produce.  Having a guy that is going to consistently flirt with a three hundred average which never seems to dip under .290 nor exceed .315 is something that can be found anywhere but having that same guy perform with the production that Butler has shown in just six years is priceless.  He started out as two eggs over easy with a side of toast and now has turned into a full country breakfast.  But over the season to come all we can do is wait and see if Butler can become the Thanksgiving dinner to lead the Royals to success in September and beyond.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)

Black History Month: The All-Time Royals

The history of African Americans in baseball may not be represented better anywhere in the world than it is in Kansas City with the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. From Buck O’Neil to Josh Gibson, you can learn about a plethora of black baseball players that excelled before they were allowed to compete in the ‘Major Leagues’. However, I’m not sure we in Kansas City fully recognize how incredible the history of the black player in MLB has shaped Kansas City. Sure, we all idolize Frank White, and we remember Willie Wilson with affection, but hopefully this article will help some realize just how important the black player was to the golden age of the Kansas City Royals.

It is easy to forget, mostly because of how rare black players have become in Kansas City, and all of MLB. While the World Champion Royals featured a lineup that was 55% black, in 2011 the Royals played just 3 black players, and none of them for more than ¼ of the season. The decline of the presence of black players is not the focus of this article, however. No, to honor Black History Month I thought it would be appropriate to honor the best black players in Royals history. Some positions were easier (outfield) than others (catcher, pitcher) but that is probably more of a statement of our society than the players themselves. Without further ado, I present the Royals All-Time Greatest Black Players at each position:

Outfield

Amos Otis (42.3 WAR)- A.O. played 14 seasons for the club and to this day ranks second All-Time in WAR, runs, total bases, walks, stolen bases, and runs created. More surprising is that he’s third All-Time in home runs and RBI. He led the league with 52 SB in 1971 and twice led the league in doubles. Otis went 11/23 in the 1980 W World Series with 3 Home Runs and 7 RBIs.

Willie Wilson (35.7 WAR)- Wilson may possibly be the most underrated Royal of All-Time. Wilson, in 1980, had one of the greatest seasons of any Royal not named George Brett, leading the league in runs, hits and triples while stealing 81 bases and batting .326. That does not even cover Wilson’s incredible defensive skill. Per Baseball Reference, Wilson has the best Range Factor/9 innings in Major League history for a left fielder, the position he played most until 1983. Wilson ranks second all-time in Royals history for Defensive WAR and triples as well as holding the career and single season club records for stolen bases.

Jermaine Dye (10.3 WAR)- I really wanted to select Bo Jackson or Danny Tartabull for this final spot…until I realized that Tartabull was Puerto Rican and Jackson was a far inferior player to Dye. While he played 4½ seasons with the club, it was 1999-2000 that really separated Dye from the pack. In those two seasons, the right fielder hit 60 home runs and drove in 237 runs with an OPS+ of 127. He led the league in assists in 1999 and when the league stopped running on him in 2000, he won a gold glove. Bo may have been flashier, but Dye was the superior player.

Third Base

Terry Pendleton (-0.8 WAR)- Pendleton was a good, if not great major league player for 15 years. For the Royals he was a less than miserable below replacement level 3B/DH. But when George Brett, Kevin Seitzer and Joe Randa have taken up almost 50% of your franchise’s years at 3B, the choices aren’t too plentiful. As a tease for later in the article, there was one position that was much tougher than this one.

Shortstop

U.L.Washington (7.3 WAR)- Shortstop has been a dreadful position for the Royals for seemingly the eternity of the franchise. Save the sentimental vote for Freddie Patek, Washington may just be the best SS in the franchise’s history. Never much of a force offensively, Washington did finish third in the AL in triples in 1980. Sadly, he was traded before the Championship in 1985.

Second Base

Frank White (26.9 WAR)- White is the all-time leader in Defensive WAR and places in the top 10 in nearly every offensive category due to the fact that he played 18 seasons with the club. After 5 All Star Games and a 1980 ALCS MVP, his 3.8% in the 1996 Hall of Fame vote was a complete disgrace to the process.

First Base

John Mayberry (20.2 WAR)- In 1975 Mayberry finished second in the MVP voting to Fred Lynn despite besting him in home runs and RBIs. Sure, Lynn beat him in WAR but no one had even heard of that statistic in 1975. Mayberry also led the league in OPS+ in 1975…but no one had heard of that either.

Catcher

Okay, this is your chance to make me look foolish. I can’t find a single black player to ever play catcher for the Royals. So, unless someone proves me wrong, I’ll pick TJ Young, a catcher for the Kansas City Monarchs.

Pitcher

Tom “Flash” Gordon (15.8 WAR)- Gordon played on a lot of terrible teams, but went 17-9 with a 3.64 ERA in 1989, striking out 153 in 163 innings.

Player/Manager

Hal McRae (26.1 WAR) – McRae was an outstanding DH for the Royals and one of the greatest hitters in the organization’s history. What I’m not sure he gets enough credit for is his career as a manager. In 4 years with the Royals, McRae was 9 games over .500. Since that point no manager has come anywhere close to that mark.

So there you have it, an all-time black Kansas City Royals lineup. What struck me about this lineup is how great it is. Considering the 2012 Royals will have one starter that is black, and maybe a couple of role players, it is fairly astounding to look at this group. Sure, George Brett is the greatest Royal ever…but would the white team stack up to this one? No way would the Hispanic team. I guess it’s fitting that the home of the NLBM is also a glaring example of how strong the black presence used to be in baseball, and just how weak it is now.

Posted in Featured, RoyalsComments (0)

Beltran Becomes a Royals Legend

By signing a five-year extension with Kansas City, Carlos Beltran ensures that he will finish his career as a life-long Royal and will be firmly established as the second best player in team history.

Having spent 14 years patrolling centerfield of Kauffman Stadium, Beltran hopes his career will end on a more competitive note.

“We’ve lost a lot during the last decade here in KC, but with all the talent we’ve got coming up, I really think we’ll compete for championships before I’m done,” Beltran said.

Despite being slowed by injuries, Beltran has been one of the few bright spots for the Royals. When outfield mates Jermaine Dye and Johnny Damon sought greener pastures in the early 2000s, Beltran chose to stay in KC, joining George Brett and Frank White as the faces of the franchise.

“Sure I could have made some more money somewhere else, but I always wanted to be a guy who played his whole career for one team,” Beltran said upon signing the contract extension. “Some things are more important than money. Who knows where I’d be right now if I’d listen to that money-grubbing Scott Boras.”

Ok, so the reality is that Beltran is now a Cardinal. He’s also an ex-Giant, ex-Met, ex-Astro, and of course, ex-Royal. Beltran is now 34 and might possibly finish his career in St. Louis.

Beltran left KC at age 27, having played five and half seasons in a Royals’ uniform. Because of injuries and the natural decline of skills, Beltran played his best baseball before the age of 32. About half that time was spent in Kansas City.

Sadly, KC just missed out on some of Beltran’s best seasons – 2006 to 2008. In those seasons he won three Gold Gloves, two Silver Sluggers, made two All-Star appearances, and in 2006 finished fourth in the MVP balloting.

I really shouldn’t blame Beltran for his departure from KC. The team wasn’t paying top talents at the time, and they knew they had to deal Beltran when they could get a good return. It’s not his fault that the three players KC got in the trade (Mark Teahen, Mike Wood and John Buck) didn’t help the team rebuild.

What Beltran can provide the Cardinals and where Beltran stands among the greats of history are topics for another article.

But what interests me is just where Beltran would rank if he had played the same seasons, with all the same production, and with all the same injuries and decline of skill, in KC.

Here are Beltran’s career numbers compared to the best in Royals history:

Games – 1768 Beltran would rank 6th currently and could move to 3rd this season behind Brett and White.
At Bats – 6767 Beltran would currently be in 5th place.
Runs – 1184 Beltran would already be in 2nd place on the team list, with only Brett’s 1583 to shoot for.
Hits – 1917 Racking up hits isn’t exactly Beltran’s game. Even so, he would rank 6th on the team list and could move into 2nd this season. Only Brett and White collected more than 2000 hits.
Doubles –390 Beltran would be in 4th place at present.
Triples – 73 Beltran would be a distant 3rd behind Brett’s 137 and Willie Wilson’s 133.
Home Runs – 302 Beltran’s home run total might be different if he’d spent his entire career playing in Kauffman stadium. But for the sake of this game, we’ll give him full credit. Amazingly, only one other Royal has more than 200 homers – Brett with 317. Beltran would, in 2012, become the Royals all-time home run leader.
Runs Batted In – 1146 Beltran would trail only Brett, who drove in 1595 runs.
Stolen Bases – 293 Beltran is one of the most efficient base stealers in the game, but thievery numbers are down from the Royals golden years. Even so, he would rank behind only Wilson (612), Amos Otis (340), and Freddie Patek (336). In reality, Beltran ranks 6th in team history.
Average – .283 Of players with more than 4000 at bats in a Royals uniform, Beltran would sit fourth, behind Brett (.305), Mike Sweeney (.299), Hal McRae (.293), and Wilson (.289).

Without a doubt, Beltran would rank as the second greatest player in Royals history, and by some measures could be considered THE greatest.

It’s been hard over the past decade for Royals fans to resist delving into a lot of “what ifs:” what if the Royals had kept the outfield of Beltran, Dye and Damon together; what if they could have held onto Joe Randa and Raul Ibanez, what if Mike Sweeney had stayed healthy…

I’m sure millionaire professionals like Carlos Beltran don’t waste time on “what ifs.” But if Beltran did, he might wonder what his legacy would be had he stayed in KC. He might think that players who jump from team to team during the prime of their careers are quickly forgotten. But players who grow up and grow old with the same team can become legends.

Posted in Cardinals, Featured, RoyalsComments (0)

Top 10 Royals Outfielder Seasons

There is no doubt that Alex Gordon‘s 2011 campaign ranks among the best seasons by Royals outfielders. Being the Royals addict that I am, I wanted to find out exactly where I think it ranks. Here is what I consider the top ten:

10. Danny Tartabull ∙ 1991 ∙ RF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+
132 .316 .397 .593 171

Tartabull is the only right fielder to slip onto the list (Al Cowens ’77 and Jermaine Dye ’00 were in the running). This is the best purely offensive season a Royals outfielder has ever had, but his lack of speed and defensive range cut harshly into Tartabull’s overall value. He also only played 132 games. But when the bat was in his hands, Tartabull was a force in this last of his five years in KC. If you did not give him anything to hit, he would gladly take a walk or 65. If you gave him something to hit, look out: 33 doubles, 31 homers, and a league-leading .593 slugging percentage. His 171 OPS+ is third in Royals history and tops among outfielders.

9. Amos Otis ∙ 1971 ∙ CF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+ SB/Attempts
147 .301 .345 .443 124 52/60

In his second year with the Royals, Otis lead the league with 52 stolen bases, went to the All-Star game, garnered some MVP votes, and took home a gold glove.

8. Willie Wilson ∙ 1982 ∙ LF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+
136 .332 .365 .431 118

Greased Lightning takes up an impressive three of the top eight seasons. Rate-wise, this was his best hitting season, putting up career highs in average, on-base percentage and slugging. His .332 average was tops in the majors.

7. Willie Wilson ∙ 1979 ∙ LF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+ SB/Attempts Total Zone runs above avg
154 .315 .351 .420 106 83/95 21

Wilson was not especially impressive with the bat this year, but had the best defensive year in Royals history by Total Zone runs and set the team steals record (at an 87% success rate) to put together an overall fantastic season.

6. Carlos Beltran ∙ 2001 ∙ CF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+
155 .306 .362 .514 122

After a rookie of the year campaign in ’99 and a disappointing ’00, Beltran bounced back in a big way in ’01 and has not looked back since in what could end up a Hall of Fame career. As good as he was overall in ’99, his hitting was close to average. Beltran put it all together in ’01: average, walks, power, stolen bases and tremendous defense. He was caught stealing ONCE in 32 attempts.

5. Johnny Damon ∙ 2000 ∙ CF/LF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+ WPA
159 .327 .382 .495 118 4.6

Damon’s last year in KC was also his best, including league-leading totals in stolen bases (46) and runs (136) and a career high OPS+. He came through in the right spots too: his win probability added matched Amos Otis’s 1978 for best total for a Royals outfielder.

4. Alex Gordon ∙ 2011 ∙ LF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+
151 .303 .376 .502 141

The season that inspired this list ends up all the way down at four. It has been a schizophrenic season for the Royals marked by a ton of losing but also excitement about several individual performances. And as good as Cabrera, Francoeur, Hosmer and others have been, Alex has been in another dimension. He really never slumped, steadily dominating in both halves of innings. He has been the best left fielder in the AL and given the Royals their best season by a position player since, well, the next spot on this list…

3. Carlos Beltran ∙ 2003 ∙ CF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+
141 .307 .389 .522 132

The surprising team success in 2003 is largely considered a fluke, but Beltran’s superlative contributions to the team were very real.

2. Amos Otis ∙ 1978 ∙ CF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+ WPA
141 .298 .380 .525 150 4.6

Game-for-game, I would take this season ever so slightly as the best ever by a Royals outfielder. It was the best by win probability added (4.6). But Otis missed a handful of games, giving the slight advantage to…

1. Willie Wilson ∙ 1980 ∙ LF/CF

G AVG OBP SLG OPS+ SB/Attempts
161 .326 .357 .421 113 79/89

This incredible season is overshadowed by George Brett’s 1980, the best year a Royals player ever had. Wilson deserves more recognition for his ’80 season though. It is probably the best by a Royals position player other than Brett’s best years. Willie’s team records set in 1980 for plate appearances (745) and hits (230) still stand, and his stolen bases and runs scored (133) are both second in franchise history. Willie did not walk a lot, but he did not need to when he was putting up as many hits and stealing as many bases as he was in 1980. On top of all those hits, Willie reached base on errors 17 times, a reflection of how terrifying his speed was to the opposition.

Posted in Classic, RoyalsComments (0)

Myers, Colon And Others Have Chance To Shine In Fall League

Seven top Royals prospects will continue their seasoning in the Arizona Fall League – a proving ground for many Double and Triple-A stars on their way to the big leagues.

Jeffress

Minor League pitchers Jeremy Jeffress, Bryan Paukovits, and Brendan Lafferty, and position players Clint Robinson, Christian Colon and Wil Myers will join Royal reliever Nate Adcock as members of the Surprise Saguaros, which will begin play Oct. 4.

The teams in the AFL are made up of selections designated by big leagues. The season is highlighted by a Rising Stars Game on Nov. 5, and culminates with a championship game on Nov. 19.

The AFL season will be headlined by Bryce Harper and Mike Trout, the top two prospects in the minors this season. The league is a launching pad for players on the verge of the majors. Often players in the league are just a few months from a call-up, as certainly Trout is.

Trout, of course, saw some action this season with the California Angels, as did Adcock, who spent all season in KC as a Rule 5 selection.

In fact, of the seven Royals who played in the AFL last season, four are now in KC – Eric Hosmer, Danny Duffy, Johnny Giavotella, and Salvador Perez. Other participants last fall were Robinson, Mike Montgomery, and Brandon Sisk.

A non-Royal who garnered lots of attention in the league last fall was Jeffress. As a Milwaukee Brewer prospect prior to the Zack Greinke trade, Jeffress made headlines by registering 101 mph on fall-league radar guns.

The league enters its 20th year of existence. Jermaine Dye is a member of the AFL Hall of Fame, and Ken Harvey was once named its Most Valuable Player.

For Adcock, the league will provide a chance to gain additional experience. Plucked from the Rule 5 ranks in the offseason, Adcock has been used sparsely by KC.

Myers is the headliner of the Royals prospects. Converted to the outfield and slowed by an injury this season, Myers is still considered on of the top hitters in the minors. His .260 average with just seven homers is below what what expected, but a good fall season could give him a jump start for next spring.

The Royals’ top pick in the 2010 draft, Colon’s reputation could be helped by a solid fall. With a .255 average and eight homers, Colon is looking all too much like a bust in the early going.

Jeffress has regressed after making the Royals’ bullpen in April. A demotion to Omaha didn’t help, and he wound up falling to Northwest Arkansas, where he is still trying to harness his potential.

Robinson might hope to attract the attention of other big league teams in the fall league. Robinson continues to destroy minor league pitching. Currently blocked by Hosmer and Billy Butler, the best he could hope for might be a trade.

Paukovits and Lafferty, both in their mid-20s and still in the lower levels of the minors, hope to accelerate their advancement in the fall league.

Posted in Featured, Minors, RoyalsComments (0)

Francoeur Signing Signals New Era

Kansas City may no longer be the Siberia of the major leagues.

Frenchy

In years past, it seemed every veteran in KC was ready to pack his bags and head for greener pastures. Dating back to the 1990s, it seemed no one really wanted to stay with the Royals if there were bigger paydays and playoff games waiting elsewhere.

The most bitter of those days was when the Royals had to sell off an all-star outfield of Johnny Damon, Jermaine Dye and Carlos Beltran because they didn’t want to be Royals.

The trend continued right up to the past off-season, when the Royals had to part ways with Zack Greinke because the kid just could not wait around for the team to develop its young talent.

But in the last few weeks, at least one veteran has voiced his desire to help KC build a contender, then backed up those words by putting his name on a contract extension.

After putting together a solid first half, teams were actually inquiring about trades for the much-maligned Jeff Francoeur. But Francoeur went public, proclaiming his faith in the direction of the franchise and expressing his desire to be part of the movement.

Now, you might be tempted to question the motives of a player basically lobbying for a job. Considering it was just a few months ago that no one saw Francoeur as more than a platoon player, it might seem he was just trying to parlay a few good months into a secure gig.

But Francoeur could have kept silent long enough to let the game play out. A trade to a contending team at a time when he was playing well could have helped to resurrect his image.

Instead Francoeur chose to speak out about his satisfaction with the city, the team and the leadership of the franchise. And last week he signed on for two more seasons, making himself a part of the rebuilding project during those crucial seasons when he will be 28 and 29 years old.

What’s the big deal? Well, though Francoeur may not be Willie Mays, he is a legit major leaguer with experience in big markets and playoff races. And he wants to play the prime years of his career in KC.

That example should carry some weight with other players nearing the end of their contracts – Alex Gordon, Melky Cabrera, Joakim Soria. The Royals must put a lock on the revolving door that has permitted the exit of every talented player (minus Mike Sweeney) seemingly since the 1990s.

In order to build a winner, not only do you have to grow up young talent, you have to be able to retain the good players you want to keep. Signing Francoeur looks like a step in the right direction.

Posted in RoyalsComments (0)