Tag Archive | "Juan Gonzalez"

Are the Royals For Real This Year?

I believe the Royals will do well this year. I know, there’s been a few years when it seemed the Royals would do well and they fell flat (like 2004, 2009 and 2012). If there’s any team out there who crushes fan’s expectations and pulls the rug out from underneath their fans, it’s the Kansas City Royals.

Kauffman Stadium

But 2013 isn’t like the hopeful mirage of the 2012 season. Yes, there was optimism in 2012, but with the exception of the bullpen, the team wasn’t that good. Throw in the injuries, the dismal play of Eric Hosmer and Jeff Francoeur, the inconsistent play of Mike Moustakas and the 12-game losing streak in April, it’s a surprise the Royals finished as well as they did.

But this year, things are different. The Royals overhauled the starting rotation by getting James Shields, Ervin Santana and Wade Davis and resigning Jeremy Guthrie. Last year’s Opening Day starter, Bruce Chen, is in the bullpen. So is Luke Hochevar. The bullpen is strong and should be stronger with the improved starting rotation pitching more innings. Except for the question marks of right fielder Jeff Francoeur and second baseman Chris Getz, the Royals have a competitive lineup, a lineup not relying on washed-up veterans like Juan Gonzalez or Jose Guillen (the jury is still out on Francoeur). And unlike the Injury Bug Attack of Two Aught Twelve which decimated a part of the team, this spring has almost been injury-free. And the Royals are Cactus League Champions, which doesn’t mean anything, but at least they played well.

And the team did things that made sense. Like moving Hochevar to the bullpen instead of forcing him to be a starter. Choosing Luis Mendoza over Chen as the fifth starter. Making Getz the starting second baseman (Johnny Giavotella didn’t play well enough to earn a spot). The Royals didn’t do anything this spring that made you go, “what were they thinking?” Well, Sluggerrr getting a lap dance at a 2005 bachelor party notwithstanding (Google it if you must, But I warn you it’s NSFW and a little, well, awkward).

But we are talking about the Royals. The Royals starters got roughed up in a few Spring Training games. Lately, lefty reliever Tim Collins hasn’t been pitching well. Eric Hosmer might be playing right field and Billy Butler might be at first base in Interleague games. Key players may suffer injuries. The momentum and winning in Spring Training may not continue into the regular season. The Royals might have another 12-game losing streak early in the season. Sure, all this happening is unlikely, but if any team can do it, the Royals can.

But not this year. I believe the Royals will play much better this season. Winning the World Series? Not likely. Winning the American League Pennant? There’s a slim chance. Winning the American League Central? Only if the Detroit Tigers suffer a rash of injuries and their offense, defense and pitching falter. A Wild Card Berth? With good teams in the A.L. East and A.L. West, it’s unlikely. Finishing above .500? I believe an 87-75 record and a second place finish in the A.L. Central behind Detroit is a realistic possibility.

I hope so anyway. I am a Royals fan, after all.

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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.

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#OurTime to have more than one All-Star again?

It has been 12 years since the Royals have had multiple players in the MLB All-Star Game, but this could be the year that streak ends.

The 2012 All-Star Game will be played at beautiful Kauffman Stadium on July 10. For 3 days, the city of Kansas City and the Kansas City Royals organization will take center stage in the baseball world. The hope was that the Royals would have an exciting young team that would be in contention at that point in the season. And while there is still time for that to happen with just under 2 months to go until the game, things have gone mostly poorly for the Royals so far this season. There was the injury to Catcher Salvador Perez, the injury to Closer Joakim Soria, the comical Broxton beanball walk-off loss in Oakland, the disastrous first inning the team played in front of its home crowd, the injury to Center-fielder Lorenzo Cain, the slow start by Alex Gordon, the 12 game losing streak, the Hochevarity of SP Luke Hochevar, the sub-.200 batting average of Eric Hosmer, Jonathan Sanchez becoming the pitcher version of Juan Gonzalez, and most recently the season-ending elbow injury to SP Danny Duffy. Nobody expected this season to go perfectly, but certainly nobody could have expected all of that disaster to hit before May 15. But despite all of that, there have been several bright spots for the Royals so far this season. And while it is extremely unlikely that any Royal gets voted in as an All-Star starter, it is not far-fetched to think that there are as many as FOUR players who could be deserving of selection as a reserve. Let’s take a look at these players, one by one, along with their primary competition to this point at their respective positions.

Designated Hitter

Billy Butler-Kansas City Royals

Avg: .285
R: 13
HR: 6
RBI: 25

David Ortiz-Boston Red Sox

Avg: .348
R: 24
HR: 7
RBI: 25

Edwin Encarnacion-Toronto Blue Jays

Avg: .276
R: 21
HR: 11
RBI: 29

Adam Dunn-Chicago White Sox

Avg: .250
R: 20
HR: 11
RBI: 26

Analysis: While “The Butler” is having a very nice year to this point, unless he goes on a surge and separates himself from this group in some way it is going to be very difficult for him to get selected out of this group. It is pretty clear that based on the numbers at this point, he would be the 4th most deserving candidate of these four players.  Not to mention, the likelihood of two DH’s being selected is not good.

3rd Base

Mike Moustakas-Kansas City Royals

Avg: .308

R: 14

HR: 4

RBI: 15

Miguel Cabrera-Detroit Tigers

Avg: .294

R: 17

HR: 7

RBI: 29

Evan Longoria-Tampa Bay Rays

Avg: .329

R: 15

HR: 4

RBI: 19

Adrian Beltre-Texas Rangers

Avg: .302

R: 19

HR: 6

RBI: 21

Analysis: With the type of defense he’s been playing, and the fact that statistically nobody is separating themselves from the pack here, Moose has a very good chance at being selected as a reserve.  Cabrera will likely get voted in as the starter, and the numbers at this point are close enough that is easy to see defending American League Champions manager Ron Washington going with the hometown guy in Moustakas.  Unfortunately, it is also easy to see him going with his own guy in Beltre.


Alcides Escobar-Kansas City Royals

Avg: .296

R: 12

HR: 1

RBI: 10

SB: 7

Derek Jeter-New York Yankees

Avg: .372
R: 24
HR: 5
RBI: 15

Elvis Andrus-Texas Rangers

Avg: .328
R: 24
HR: 1
RBI: 17

SB: 6

Mike Aviles-Boston Red Sox

Avg: .261
R: 22
HR: 5
RBI: 21

SB: 5

Analysis: Clearly Derek Jeter is deserving of the starting spot he will surely be voted into.  And while Aviles is having a very solid year to this point, his relative anonymity and the fact that he is extremely unlikely to continue to put up numbers like this make him the odd man out of this group.  So once again, that would leave Ron Washington deciding between one of his own players and one of the host city’s players.  Though he lacks the power numbers, the defensive reputation combined with the average, steals, and home-field advantage give Escobar a very good chance of being selected.


Alex Gordon-Kansas City Royals

Avg: .256
R: 22
HR: 4
RBI: 16

Adam Jones-Baltimore Orioles

Avg: .291
R: 27
HR: 10
RBI: 21

SB: 5

Josh Hamilton-Texas Rangers

Avg: .402
R: 30
HR: 18
RBI: 44

Curtis Granderson-New York Yankees

Avg: .258
R: 23
HR: 11
RBI: 20

While Gordon’s numbers don’t stack up at this point, this selection was taking into consideration the fact that he got off to such a slow start to begin the season and has hit put up very good numbers to get up to the respectable level he’s at now.  If he continues at the pace he’s been on since he broke out of his funk, he will be right in the mix come decision time.  And given the fact that he deserved to make it last year and didn’t (with Washington also being the manager who snubbed him), he should have a very good chance of being selected.

It’s been a long time since Jermaine Dye started the 2000 All-Star game and Mike Sweeney made the team as a reserve.  But 2012 may just be #OurTime to have multiple All-Stars once again.

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Hall Monitor: Baseball Reference Ranks Royals’ Chances at Cooperstown

For failing to garner 5% of votes cast this year, Juan Gonzalez will be dropped from the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot next year, leaving the Kansas City Royals with no former players on the regular ballot.

Jason Kendall

Do the Royals have any chance of getting a player in the Hall anytime soon? It’s looking like it will be a very long time.

As I documented in a previous article, few former Royals have ever received significant support to be in the Hall. In fact, few have ever even received the requisite 5% to remain eligible.

Two current players with an outside chance at making it might even consider wearing the Royals’ cap, were they to make it to Cooperstown. Carlos Beltran and Johnny Damon have a shot, and each spent a significant portion of his career in KC.

But according to a Baseball-Reference ranking system, a couple of other former Royals might actually have a better shot at making the hall. A graph called the Hall of Fame Monitor shows that the next in line with the best shot at the Hall is actually none other than… Jason Kendall.

Shocked? I was.

Next after Kendall? Roberto Hernandez.

Disgusted? I was.

The system ranks former players and attempts to predict the chances of current and recently retired players of being elected to the Hall. It awards points for a variety of accomplishments and especially rewards longevity and offensive output from catchers and shortstops. The system describes itself as follows:

This is another Jamesian creation. It attempts to assess how likely (not how deserving) an active player is to make the Hall of Fame. It’s rough scale is 100 means a good possibility and 130 is a virtual cinch. It isn’t hard and fast, but it does a pretty good job.

Gonzalez actually came in with a rating of 120, the exact same rating as the newly inducted Barry Larkin. Gonzalez ranks ahead of a number of Hall of Famers, including recently elected outfielder Andre Dawson. But Gonzalez was undoubtedly penalized for his link to performance-enhancing drugs.

With Gonzalez now gonzo, the former Royal with the most reasonable chance now is Kendall with a 108 ranking. But while the system says a 100 ranking would indicate a chance, don’t tell that to former Royals Vida Blue, David Cone and Bob Boone. Each was over 100 and got nary a sniff from the voters.

Beltran comes in surprisingly low (in my mind) at just 92. He is penalized mostly for a low number of career hits and a low career average. When he reaches 400 homers and 2000 career hits (this season?), his ranking will jump considerably.

Damon sits currently at 90 points. If he could somehow reach the 3000 hit mark (273 away) he would become a virtual lock for the Hall. According to the system, that’s about his only shot.

Such systems are not without flaws, and it’s not hard to find some rankings you disagree with. Personally I don’t like seeing Hernandez (93 points) come in ahead of Dan Quisenberry (77) and Jeff Montgomery (74).

But like the system or not, it illustrates the sad truth. Unless the Royals acquire some aged star who’s playing out the twilight of his career (see former Royals Harmon Killebrew, Gaylord Perry and Orlando Cepeda), it could be more than a decade before we think about a Royal joining George Brett in Cooperstown.

Former Royals Chances of Making the Hall of Fame, According to the Baseball Reference Hall of Fame Monitor:

Batters eligible – Top 200 all time (rank #, total points):

#116 (tie) Juan Gonzalez – 120 points
#153 (tie) Bob Boone – 102 points
#176 Vada Pinson – 95 points
#177 (tie) Benito Santiago – 94 points

Batters not yet eligible – Top 100 (rank #, total points):

#27 (tie) Jason Kendall – 108 points
#38 Carlos Beltran – 92 points
#40 Johnny Damon – 90 points
#77 Mark Grudzielanek – 49 points
#78 (tie) Jermaine Dye – 48 points
#78 (tie) Mike Sweeney – 48 points

Pitchers eligible – Top 200 (rank #, total points):

#78 (tie) Vida Blue – 114 points
#93 David Cone – 103 points
#152 (tie) Dan Quisenberry – 77 points
#161 (tie) Jeff Montgomery – 74 points
#167 (tie) Bret Saberhagen – 70 points

Pitchers not yet eligible – Top 100 (rank #, total points):

#17 Roberto Hernandez – 93 points
#43 (tie) Tom Gordon – 47 points
#58 (tie) Joakim Soria – 34 points
#67 (tie) Zach Greinke – 22 points
#95 (tie) Octavio Dotel – 19 points

Batters already in – Top 200 (rank #, total points):

#39 George Brett – 210 points
#55 (tie) Harmon Killebrew – 178 points
#108 (tie) Orlando Cepeda – 126 points

Pitchers already in – Top 200 (rank #, total points):

#29 Gaylord Perry – 177 points

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Royals Locked Out of Hall Once Again

Former Kansas City Royals players better appreciate their place in Kansas City, because they won’t be taking up residence in Cooperstown any time soon.

Former Cincinnati Red Barry Larkin joined George Brett in Cooperstown on Monday, and the only former Royal receiving any votes will drop off from lack of support.

Juan Gonzalez just eluded the ax last year, but he couldn’t keep his Hall of Fame hopes alive for another vote. “Juan Gone” netted just 23 votes in Monday’s vote, needing 29 to stay on the ballot, and will be long gone next time votes are cast.

No Royals fans will shed any tears for Gonzalez. He, more than anyone, symbolized the gut-wrenching plummet the team took in 2004 after contending from wire to wire in 2003. In fact, few will even notice as he slides into obscurity.

But the disinterest he received from voters is just one more reminder of the Hall’s disinterest in Royals players. In fact, Gonzalez is the only former Royal to remain on the ballot beyond his initial year of eligibility since 1996. That’s when Vada Pinson made his last appearance on the ballot.

It’s likely to stay that way for a long time. Only Jeff Conine and Reggie Sanders come up for consideration next year, and neither has much of a chance.

I would think, based on Sanders’ combination of 300 homers and 300 steals might pique some interest from voters, enough possibly to get the requisite 5% to stay on the ballot at least. But it’s safe to bet he won’t be joining Brett in the Hall.

If you think Brett is the only Royal in Cooperstown, you’re wrong. Technically.

The first man who wore the Royal blue to enter the Hall was Harmon Killebrew, who suited up for KC in his final season – 1975. In 1984 he earned 83% of the vote in his 3rd time on the ballot. (75% is required for enshrinement.)

Second came Gaylord Perry, the quirky, ageless wonder who pitched in KC in 1983 and was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1991. In his 3rd time to be on the ballot, Perry earned 77% of the vote that year.

The third Royal to be enshrined in Cooperstown was Orlando Cepeda, who made the last stop of his career in Kansas City in 1974. Cepeda’s name dropped off the regular ballot in 1994 when he fell just 1.5% shy of regular election. But he was voted into the Hall by the Veterans Committee in 1999, the same year Brett was voted in via the regular process.

Brett, of course, is the only player whose bust and all other regalia represents his career with the Royals. Brett cruised into the Hall with 98.2% of the votes in his first year of eligibility – just 9 voters left him off their ballots.

A large number of players’ names show up on the ballot each year, and most of them garner at least a few votes. As stated before, those who do not get at least 5% are left off all future ballots. As much as we Royals fans love Frank White, Willie Wilson and others, the boys in blue have barely caused a ripple of interest by Hall of Fame Voters.

Pinson, an outfielder who spent his best years in Cincinnati, and wound up his career in KC in 1974 and 1975, came the closest. Support for Pinson topped out in 1988 when he secured 15.7% of the votes cast.

The next best finish by a former Royal was in 1993 when Vida Blue garnered 8.7% of the votes cast. Blue was a key member of the pitching staffs of the 1982 and 1983 Royals teams.

Sadly, and somewhat amazingly, no other Royal beyond Pinson, Blue and Gonzalez has ever received the requisite 5% to remain on the ballot past their first year of eligibility.

The highest finishes by those players who really made their name while wearing the Royals uniform are as follows:

David Cone – 3.9% in 2001
Dan Quisenberry – 3.8% in 1996
Frank White – 3.8% in 1996
Willie McGee – 2.3% in 2006
Willie Wilson – 2% in 2000

Good luck to Conine and Sanders. We Royals fans won’t be holding our collective breath, not hoping you’ll make it to Cooperstown. Not even hoping your name will make it on a second ballot. We’ll be more focused on Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon, hoping there’s a Hall of Famer somewhere in our future.

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A Look Back At The Worst Royals Team Of All Time

In the last 15 years, the Kansas City Royals have put some pretty pathetic teams on the field. As some time has passed since some of these historically inept Royals teams have come and gone, it is interesting to take a look back at the worst of them all, the 2005 version of the Royals.

Having the benefit of perspective, it really is astonishing to think that anyone in the organization expected that team to do anything other than suck really bad.

The 2005 Royals were entering the season coming off of a 104 loss season, their second 100 loss season in 3 years. And as hard as it is to believe now, up to that point, those were the Royals’ only 100 loss seasons in franchise history. Little did anyone know, that was just the beginning of a stretch of some of the most disgracefully inept (borderline insulting) brand of baseball anyone would ever witness. In order to fully appreciate the level of stink that graced Kauffman Stadium 81 times in the summer of 2005, we must first take a quick look back at 2004:

The 2004 Royals came into the season with some glimmer of hope, as crazy as it seems now. They had just completed a 2003 season that saw them lead the division most of the year and remain in contention into September. The Royals felt that if they only could carry that positive momentum into 2004, and add a few key pieces, that they would be ready to contend again. Enter Juan Gonzalez and Benito Santiago and a slightly higher payroll. Clearly this approach was miscalculated at best, and delusional at worst. Nonetheless, it represented a somewhat honest attempt at fielding a winning team for the first time in quite some time, which was refreshing in its own way.

As soon as the next off-season hit, it was like Royals ownership and management immediately wanted to get the message out that since they went for it last year and it failed miserably, that it would be a cold day in hell before they would ever try anything like that again. Come April 4, 2005, Royals fans who took off work early and spent their hard-earned money to come out to Kauffman Stadium for Opening Day, were therefore treated to this opening day lineup:

David DeJesus-CF, Ruben Gotay-2B, Mike Sweeney-1B, Calvin Pickering-DH, Matt Stairs-RF, Angel Berroa-SS, Terrence Long-LF, John Buck-C, Mark Teahen-3B, Jose Lima-SP

Not shockingly, the Royals were beaten 11-2 by the Tigers in their first of 106 losses that season. The 2005 Royals would start the season 5-9 before going on a 9 game losing streak to fall to 5-18. They would eventually fall to 8-25, before Manager Tony Pena decided he had enough and quit. Interim manager Bob Schaefer got in on the fun, going 5-12 before Buddy Bell was brought in as the permanent replacement for Pena. In most seasons, a 9 game losing streak would be far and away the low point in the season. Not for this team…not even close. They would go on to treat their fans to losing streaks of 5, 5, 8, and 19 games before going into just standard Royals Stink Mode in late August. To put it further into perspective, that 19 game losing streak saw their loss total rise from 63 to 82 before their win total rose from 38 to 39.

The passage of time allows us to look back at seasons like 2005 and find the humor in some ways. If Project 2012 can come to fruition and the Royals are fielding championship caliber teams for years to come, the 2005 season can then become nothing more than a hilarious footnote in Royals history.

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Cooperstown Choices: Juan Gonzalez

With the Hall Of Fame election announcement coming on January 9, 2012, it is time to review the ballot, go over the names, and decide who belongs in the Hall Of Fame.

There are twenty seven men on the ballot this year and we will take a look at each one individually prior to official announcements. You can find all of the profiles in the I-70 Baseball Exclusives: Cooperstown Choices 2012 menu at the top of the page.

Tune in Saturday, January 7, 2012 as I-70 Baseball Radio will host a panel of writers discussing the Hall Of Fame Ballot in a 2-hour special.

In this article, we take a look at Juan Gonzalez.

Juan Gonzalez
The outfielder and designated hitter got his start in the big leagues in 1989 with the Texas Rangers. With a single at bat in the 2005 season, he officially spent his last major league season with the Cleveland Indians. This will be the second year on the ballot for the slugger.

1989 TEX 24 60 6 9 3 0 1 7 0 6 17 .150 .227 .250 .477 34
1990 TEX 25 90 11 26 7 1 4 12 0 2 18 .289 .316 .522 .838 131
1991 TEX 142 545 78 144 34 1 27 102 4 42 118 .264 .321 .479 .800 121
1992 TEX 155 584 77 152 24 2 43 109 0 35 143 .260 .304 .529 .833 133
1993 TEX 140 536 105 166 33 1 46 118 4 37 99 .310 .368 .632 1.000 169
1994 TEX 107 422 57 116 18 4 19 85 6 30 66 .275 .330 .472 .802 104
1995 TEX 90 352 57 104 20 2 27 82 0 17 66 .295 .324 .594 .917 130
1996 TEX 134 541 89 170 33 2 47 144 2 45 82 .314 .368 .643 1.011 145
1997 TEX 133 533 87 158 24 3 42 131 0 33 107 .296 .335 .589 .924 131
1998 TEX 154 606 110 193 50 2 45 157 2 46 126 .318 .366 .630 .997 149
1999 TEX 144 562 114 183 36 1 39 128 3 51 105 .326 .378 .601 .980 141
2000 DET 115 461 69 133 30 2 22 67 1 32 84 .289 .337 .505 .842 115
2001 CLE 140 532 97 173 34 1 35 140 1 41 94 .325 .370 .590 .960 148
2002 TEX 70 277 38 78 21 1 8 35 2 17 56 .282 .324 .451 .776 99
2003 TEX 82 327 49 96 17 1 24 70 1 14 73 .294 .329 .572 .901 122
2004 KCR 33 127 17 35 4 1 5 17 0 9 19 .276 .326 .441 .767 96
2005 CLE 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100
17 Seasons 1689 6556 1061 1936 388 25 434 1404 26 457 1273 .295 .343 .561 .904 132
162 Game Avg. 162 629 102 186 37 2 42 135 2 44 122 .295 .343 .561 .904 132
TEX (13 yrs) 1400 5435 878 1595 320 21 372 1180 24 375 1076 .293 .342 .565 .907 133
CLE (2 yrs) 141 533 97 173 34 1 35 140 1 41 94 .325 .369 .589 .958 148
KCR (1 yr) 33 127 17 35 4 1 5 17 0 9 19 .276 .326 .441 .767 96
DET (1 yr) 115 461 69 133 30 2 22 67 1 32 84 .289 .337 .505 .842 115
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/15/2011.

Why He Should Get In
Juan Gonzalez was a pure hitter. His 17 career produced 434 home runs, 388 doubles, 1,404 runs batted in, a .293 lifetime batting average and an impressive .904 lifetime OPS (On Base Plus Slugging Percentage). He earned the 1996 and 1998 Most Valuable Player Award in the American League, won six Silver Slugger awards (1992, 1993, 1996-1998, 2001), made three All Star appearances (1993, 1998, 2001) and led the league in doubles, home runs and runs batted in at different points during his career.

Why He Should Not Get In
Though never officially named, he comes from the crop of hitters surrounded by the steroid claim and scares some writers off. With 434 home runs, he is missing the cherished 500. The same can be said about his 1,404 runs batted in falling short of the 1,500 mark. His 1,936 hits falls short of any plateau that writers cherish as well. Gonzalez is a bubble guy that may get left out in the cold or may just squeak in one year. This is a good year to sneak past the scrutiny of the voters.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at I-70 Baseball as well as the Assignment Editor for BaseballDigest.com.
He is the host of I-70 Radio, hosted every week on BlogTalkRadio.com.
Follow him on Twitter here.

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Optimism Is Well Placed For Royals Fans

Hi. You don’t know me or anything about me. But if you’re reading this column, I’m pretty sure I know plenty about you.

You are obviously a Kansas City Royals fan, and are for the first time in a very, very, very, very long time, feeling legitimate optimism for the upcoming season. However, for the better part of the last 20 years, you have endured year after year of baseball misery. You have cursed every player, manager, pitching coach, general manager, owner, trainer, and groundscrew captain that has passed through the orgainization during this time, using your entire repertoire of colorful language many times over. You have watched Scott Elarton, Brian Anderson, Runelvys Hernandez, and Jose Lima trot out to the mound to start Opening Day, and nearly been forced into regurgitation over it. You allowed yourself to get excited about the arrival of washed up, non-roided versions of Juan Gonzalez and Benito Santiago. You watched the All-Star games and cringed when Mark Redman and Ken Harveywere announced as the Royals’ representatives.

And as you know, this doesn’t even come close to scratching the surface of what you have endured being a Royals fan. Yet for some reason, you have continued to come back. Oh, I know, you have considered walking away many times. There are so many other things to focus your energy on in the summertime. You are sick of being laughed at and dismissed by fans of other teams. But your hope is that your loyalty would be rewarded eventually. You say that when the Royals finally do win again, the celebration will be unlike any other that anyone has ever seen (of course, nobody reading this has likely seen the Cubs win the World Series). Could that eventually be now? You are optimistic, but we will forgive you for guarding your optimism with an armed militia. You know you have been burned before, but you also know that now just feels different. Actually, it doesn’t just feel different, you are sure it is different. But you’re trying not to talk about it, because you remember when you argued with your friend who is a Cardinals fan, that OF COURSE Reggie Sanders was the missing piece in the Royals lineup. Or that one time, when you got into it with someone in the bar, saying ABSOLUTELY Calvin Pickering has what it takes to hit big league pitching. Haven’t you seen what that guy has done in AAA??

The difference this year, of course, is that you, as a Royals fan, don’t have to argue on behalf of your team anymore. The national media, and people in other baseball towns are hip to what’s going on with the Royals. They are the ones drooling over Eric Hosmer as being “can’t miss” and Mike Moustakas having terrifying power. They are saying Alcides Escobar may be the best shortstop in baseball and Salvador Perez might be the next Pudge Rodriguez. And now it is you that is either keeping quiet, or even taking the other side… reminding everyone that people spoke of Alex Gordon when he came up the same way they speak of Eric Hosmer today. And, you also say, while it is possible that Escobar could be a perennial Gold Glove winner, he could also regress into the second coming of Angel Berroa. As a Royals fan, you are now trained to think that way.

In just over 3 months, the time for talking will be over. You and I will get to know each other much better throughout this time, and together, we will watch the story of Project 2012 unfold. Will it be another self-depricating comedy? Or a dramatic thriller with a joyous ending? Who knows? Maybe in 3 months the time for talking will be over…or maybe the time for talking could finally have arrived.

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Where Are They Now: Ryan Ludwick

Few Cardinals players in recent memory have come along like Ryan Ludwick. He seemed to burst on the scene so quickly that he was on us before we knew it, and many fans didn’t even know who he was! In fact, if you’re reading this, have been a Cards fan for long, and are completely honest with yourself, you originally thought it was Ryan Ludwig. Didn’t you? C’mon, didn’t you? Don’t beat yourself up too badly over it–you were probably the “go to” person in your circle of friends for distinguishing Brian Barton & Brian Barden, weren’t you? Yeah, you were.

What you may not know is that after being invited to the Cardinals spring training camp in 2007, he would start the season in AAA Memphis. In less than a month there, he’d hit .340 with 8 bombs, and when Preston Wilson went on the DL on May 6th, Ludwick made his Cardinals debut. This was not his Major League debut, however, not by a long shot.

Ludwick actually made his debut with the 2002 Texas Rangers. (Yeah, ‘02) Some of his teammates at the time included names like Michael Young, Juan Gonzalez, and Kenny Rogers. There were future Hall of Famers, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, & Alex Rodriguez, as well as never Hall of Famer (“Period!”), Rafael Palmeiro. Other names that dot that roster that you may be familiar with include: Travis Hafner, Todd Van Poppel, John Rocker, Dennys “like the restaurant” Reyes, Randy Flores, along with 22 year-old Colby Lewis.
Things were over for Ludwick almost as quickly as they began, as a fractured hip would pretty much punch his one-way ticket out of Arlington. In 2 years with the Rangers, he played in a paltry 31 games, where, in 118 plate appearances he hit .215, hit 1HR, had 9 RBI, and slugged .308, and was traded to the Indians on July 18th, 2003. Of the 66 games remaining in the season, Ludwick split time between the corner outfield spots & DH in the 39 games in which he played. Those 39 games he played in an Indians uniform in ‘03 would exceed the combined number of games he’d play for them in ‘04 and ‘05.

On October 15th, 2005, he became a free agent, and signed with the Tigers two months later. After spending all of 2006 playing AAA ball for the Toledo Mud Hens, Ludwick would again become a free agent on the 15th of October, just in time to (speculation alert!) spend the next two weeks rooting against the team that just granted him free agency. Little did he know that in doing so, he would be rooting for his next employer, the [2006-World-Champion-because-they-beat-the-Tigers] St. Louis Cardinals.

Upon his arrival in St. Louis, Ryan Ludwick mashed at the plate early & often, earning him a spot on the 2008 NL All-Star team, as well as the 2008 Silver Slugger award. Take a look at these numbers, and recall the ones (above) from his days in Arlington:

2007: (StL) 339 PA .267 AVG 14 HR 52 RBI .479 SLG
2008: (StL) 617 PA .299 AVG 37 HR 113 RBI .591 SLG
2009: (StL) 539 PA .265 AVG 22 HR 97 RBI .447 SLG
2010: (StL) 312 PA .281 AVG 11 HR 43 RBI .484 SLG
2010: (SD) 239 PA .211 AVG 6 HR 26 RBI .330 SLG

This probably felt pretty good, if I had to guess

Notice anything? Average & power both drop off sharply after Luddy heads west!

Those were his numbers last year, when he was batting behind the 2nd-best 1st baseman in the league, Adrian Gonzalez…who is now in Boston. This leaves Ludwick heading into 2011 with very little protection in that lineup, which is reason to believe it will be increasingly difficult to bring some of those numbers back up. Add to that the fact that he’s in the same division as the Giants, and will be facing that rotation on a regular basis all season, and it gets really tough! Oh, and ask 100 pitchers (across AL and NL) what park they’d love to pitch in most…many will name the place where Ludwick will play 81 games…Petco in San Diego.

I have to admit that I was among those who, at the time of the deal, said, “We weren’t going to be able to afford to bring Ludwick back anyway.”. But, I think we bought low & sold high on him–and let’s face it, bringing Westbrook to St. Louis is HUGE now, given recent developments with our starting rotation and injuries. I hate to say it about a fan favorite like Luddy, and we did benefit tremendously from his talent while he was here, but I’d be surprised to see him put up numbers anywhere near what he did while wearing the birds on the bat.

I’m afraid the future may not be too promising for Ludwick as a Padre, at least not at this point. A trade or break out year by Brad Hawpe or someone could change all of that, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Who Would KC Pick For Cooperstown?

One of the unique features of the MLB All-Star Game is that at least one player is selected to represent each team in the league, no matter how undeserving that player might be to be considered a “star.”

Last week I wrote an article about how little consideration Royals players have received by the voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame. While four players who have worn Royals uniforms are actually in the Hall – Harmon Killebrew (1984), Gaylord Perry (1991), George Brett and Orlando Cepeda (1999) – no other Royal has even received a significant enough number of votes to be considered a potential inductee.

I wonder if, similar to the All-Star Game, the Royals were given the chance to name their next most deserving candidate for enshrinement, who would that person be?

We all know Buck O’Neil should be in the Hall of Fame. It’s a shame he’s not, and there are probably other KC Monarchs who deserve the honor as well. But that has been hashed and rehashed in other venues. I will try to stick with the current Royals franchise for the sake of this argument.

As I stated last week, Vada Pinson actually recorded the most votes of any former Royal not in the Hall. In his final two seasons, Pinson played well enough for the Royals in 1974, but struggled before hanging it up in 1975. His best seasons were in a Cincinnati Reds uniform, so he does not gain consideration here.

Vida Blue and Juan Gonzalez also recorded enough votes to remain on the ballot past their first year of eligibility, but they get disregarded for the same reason as Pinson. Blue is regarded fondly for his value to the Royals pitching in the early 1980s, but Gonzales won no support for the dismal 33 games he played in KC, which cost the team $4 million.

No, it must be someone who actually is remembered as a Royal, first and foremost. If the team were to choose their own representative to the Hall, he must be one of them. John Mayberry, Lou Piniella and David Cone need not apply. Things to consider are not only a player’s statistics, but how they performed on the big stage and what they mean to the Royals franchise.

None of the players considered in this article actually garnered any support from the Hall of Fame voters. Disregard vote totals and just ponder what each man did as a Royal, counting on an All-Star Game-like ticket to admission. There are plenty to choose from, but for the sake of time and space, I will narrow the candidates to just 7, listed here in alphabetical order:

Hal McRae – One could argue that since he always played second fiddle to the only true Royal in the Hall of Fame, George Brett, then he should stand second in line. Starting in 1974, McRae had 13 really good seasons, primarily as a DH. He finished with a .300 average in six of those seasons, with a low mark of .272. He nearly won a batting title in 1976, and finished his career with more than 2000 hits and 1000 RBI.

McRae gets a boost in support for serving as the Royals manager from 1991 to 1994 when the team was still attempting to field competitive teams. He loses credit, however, for not playing in the field and for only driving in 100 runs once, which is strange considering he was hitting behind Willie Wilson and George Brett for many of those seasons.

Amos Otis – AO probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves for his 14 excellent seasons in KC. Otis was a great fielder (two Gold Gloves) and base-stealing threat (five seasons with more than 30 steals). He hit leadoff for many of the great Royals teams and had solid average and on-base percentage. He also provided some power, hitting 193 homers. He actually finished 3rd in the MVP voting of 1973, when he led the young Royals with a .300 average and 26 homers. Otis finished with nearly 2000 hits in KC, and played in the third most games in team history.

Dan Quisenberry – This one is intriguing. Bruce Sutter, who is actually IN the Hall of Fame dominated the National League at generally the same time period Quisenberry was mastering the American League. Over his best six-year span, from 1979-1984, Sutter saved 192, led the league in saves five times and played in one World Series. From 1980 to 1985, Quisenberry notched the same 192 saves, leading his own league five times, played in two World Series, and in most of those comparable seasons had a lower ERA than Sutter. Quisenberry’s career was a bit shorter than Sutter’s, and he ranks just 31st on the all-time saves list. Quisenberry’s numbers over that period compare quite favorably to those of Rollie Fingers and comparably to those of Goose Gossage, both Hall of Famers from the same era.

“The Quiz” was a true ambassador for the team, and his untimely death makes him a sentimental favorite with Royals fans. He finished in the top five in Cy Young voting five times during that six year stretch, and finished 3rd in MVP voting in 1984. In the 1985 World Series he pitched in four games, won one, and allowed only one run. Quisenberry did not reach the big leagues until he was 26, and by 33 he was beginning to lose his golden touch, thus accounting for his lesser career totals.

Bret Saberhagen – Two Cy Young Awards and a 2-0 record in a World Series earn you a spot on this list, regardless what the rest of your career was like. When he won the Cy Young and Series MVP at just 21, he stood on top the baseball world. At 25 he had already recorded 92 wins and was on his way to being not just the greatest Royals pitcher of all time, but a true Hall of Famer. Injuries reduced his effectiveness, however, and he spent as many seasons playing outside of KC as in it.

Mike Sweeney – Similar to Quisenberry and Saberhagen, if you take a small segment of Sweeney’s career, he compares favorably with the best sluggers of his era. From 1999 to 2005, he hit for average and power, drove in a remarkable 144 runs in 2000, and would have had notched even better numbers had he not been plagued by injuries. Full seasons would have probably netted 30-plus homers and 100-plus RBIs in 2002-2006. Even so, Sweeney ranks 2nd all time in homers by a Royal and 2nd highest in batting average in team history. Injuries proved his undoing.

Most important of all, Sweeney doggedly stuck by the Royals during the 2000s when seemingly every other good player fled for greener pastures. He was a “captain” in every sense of the word and deserves the respect of KC fans for his loyalty.

Frank White – Probably the second “face of the franchise” behind Brett, White is a true Royal, having been signed in the summer of the team’s second season, a product of the Royals Baseball Academy, and a survivor of the team’s peaks and valleys. He deserves high marks for standing by the franchise through its doldrums, managing minor leaguers, working in the front office and on TV broadcasts. He probably deserved a shot at managing the big-league club.

White’s greatest on-field accomplishment was his eight Gold Gloves, earned as one of the greatest defenders in history at second base. He developed into a good, but not great hitter. White was named MVP of the 1980 ALCS and batted cleanup in the 1985 World Series. He ranks second on the team in all-time hits and games played.

Willie Wilson – Wilson was a demon on the base paths, leading the league in triples 5 times and keeping company with Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines in stolen bases in the early 1980s when baseball ran wild. Wilson still ranks 12th all-time in steals with 668

Wilson won a batting title in 1982 and hit over .300 five times in a six-year stretch. He also won two Gold Gloves and a stolen base title.

Wilson will lose credit due to a drug scandal that tarnished the Royals golden era. He also struck out too much and walked to infrequently for a leadoff hitter.

Tough choice. Each player has a special place in Royals lore, and each has some knock against him. Injuries hurt the case for several of them. White was a pretty one-dimensional player, as was McRae. Intangibles and off-field service to the franchise affect the choice as well.

But with all things considered, I surprise even myself with my selection. Part of what should be considered for the Hall of Fame, beyond sheer numbers, is how the player stacks up against great players of the same era. As I noted before, Quisenberry compares very favorably to three players who are currently in the Hall who played his same position at the same time. Sutter, Fingers and Gossage, all in Cooperstown, saved generally the same number of games (if not fewer). The Baseball Page .com places The Quiz behind only five Hall of Famers and Mariano Rivera on its ranking of all-time relievers.

Quisenberry got shockingly little love from Hall of Fame voters – just 3.8% in his only year on the ballot. There seems to be a process by which many players wait their turn, paying their dues before finally garnering the requisite 75% for admission. Because he didn’t get the minimum 5% in his first year to stay on the ballot, Quisenberry didn’t have time to build support.

Sutter started on the ballot in 1994 at just 23.9%. In 1996, Quiz’s one time on the ballot, Sutter got just 29.1%. His percentages stayed in the 20s and 30s for several years.

Gossage got 33.3% in 2000, his first time eligible. Then in 2001 both relievers started getting more support. Their numbers slowly edged upwards of 50% until finally in 2006 Sutter got in. Gossage was close behind, entering the Hall in 2008.

Compared to the slow climb of Sutter and Gossage, one has to wonder how high Quisenberry’s could have risen had his name been on the ballot over the same length of time.

White, Wilson, Otis and McRae made tremendous contributions to the great Royals teams of the 1970s and 1980s, Saberhagen and Sweeney were among the best in the game for a short spell. But Quisenberry actually stacks up well in comparison to actual Hall of Famers. He will not ever be voted into the Hall, but if we could get an All-Star Game-type representative in Cooperstown, I recommend it be the Quiz.

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