Tag Archive | "Lefty"

The St. Louis Cardinals Versus Left Handed Pitching

FransiscoLiriano

 

The St. Louis Cardinals struggle against left-handed pitching so goes conventional wisdom. I really can’t remember a time that this wasn’t said. During the 80’s, The Cards struggled against lefties like Sid Fernandez (as if any of The Cardinals today have anything at all to do with the players in the 80′s) while being able to score runs off of great right-handers like Nolan Ryan. It was credited to the fact that Fernandez was a lefty and not the fact that at his height, he was almost at the level of Ryan as a pitcher.

I bring up the past, not because it means anything to today, but I wonder if that conventional wisdom that is part of the team’s history may be why people are so quick to repeat it today. The point is, if The Cardinals struggle off of a righty, the struggles are credited to other factors. But against lefties, it’s almost always credited to the fact he is just a lefty.

So with the playoffs coming up, and some great lefties on the horizon like Francisco Liriano and Clayton Kershaw, I want to study how successful The Cardinals really are against lefties.

A recent Post-Dispatch article pointed out The Cards were 15-20 against lefties. The article stated:

Those wins stand out because the Cardinals this season are 15-20 against left-handed starters. They’re the only team in the National League with a winning record that has a losing record against lefties.

The Cardinals have the highest average in the National League overall at .272, but they are hitting just .239 against left-handed pitchers, which puts them 11th. In the three games against left-handed starters before Sunday, they were hitting .306. And even if you add in the struggles they had against Minor, they’re still at .281 in their past four games. That’s a big step forward.

The article was written on August 30th. Since then The Cards have gone 2-2 against lefties. The problem is more to do with small sample size than actual facts. The Post-Dispatch articles argues that the Cardinals are improving against lefties by winning 3 in a row before losing to Mike Minor. So if you add the 2-2 record in since then, they are 5-3. But the article then desperately tries to figure out a reason why The Cardinals are improving, even crediting Kolten Wong.

The recent success the Cardinals have had against lefties started right about the time they called up Kolten Wong from Memphis and the team shifted to more of a platoon concept. It’s not a strict platoon, since right-handers David Freese and Pete Kozma still get starts against opposing right-handers. But the Cardinals’ lineup Sunday had just one lefty, second baseman Matt Carpenter. Otherwise, Matheny went with his right-handed options when he could: Shane Robinson instead of lefty Jon Jay in center, Kozma instead of lefty Daniel Descalso at short and Freese at third instead of the Wong-Carpenter parlay

But as we now know, Wong struggled greatly this year hitting .163/.196/.184. But regardless of his struggles, The Cards winning pct improved against lefties. The article even points out The Cardinals are 2-0 against Kershaw, but even that doesn’t mean too much as both games they won because of good pitching. On Aug 6th they beat Kershaw by scoring 2 runs off of him and on May 26th they scored 4 runs off of him.

So more than likely the “struggles” against lefties is more overevaluting a small sample size, as any 35 game period for the best teams in baseball can produce a slightly below .500 record. As did the 35 games The Post-Dispatch viewed.

But when we look deeper at the stats, and not focus so much on wins and losses, this is what we see:

Versus righties The Cards are: .279/.341/.410/ with a WRC+ 110.

Versus lefties The Cards are: .235/.297/.370 with a wRC+ 85

Now when you compare The Cardinals to other teams, you do see slightly inferior numbers.

Other teams against lefties

Pirates 263/.332/.410 wRC+ 110

Dodgers .266/.328/.396 wRC+ 104

Reds .242/.318/.391 wRC+93

So why do The Cardinals struggle against lefties? It would show proof if you saw lefties shutting down left-handed hitters on the team. But against lefties, Matt Carpenter has a great OPS of .803, Matt Adams a slightly below average OPS of .667 and Jon Jay has an OPS of .602, which could be deemed as struggling if it wasn’t for the fact that Jay has struggled as a hitter altogether this year.

So who is really struggling against lefthanders? Molina’s OPS is .891; Holliday’s OPS is .770; even Freese’s OPS is .787 despite having an OPS of .691 against righties. Most of the starting players on the team have an OPS over .700 against lefties.

The big anchor on the team seems to be (surprise surprise) Pete Kozma. Kozma has the third most at bats against lefties this year at 137 with a horrible OPS of .551. By allowing someone so underachieving to rack up so many at bats is sure to bring the team average down. By removing him from the equation, The Cardinals numbers are more equal to the other teams in comparison. That may be an irrelevant point, as someone has to play shortstop this post season, and it’s either him or Descalso who has an OPS of .586 against lefties. But it does bring some assurance that an outlier is hurting the team as opposed to it being a team epidemic.

It appears the conventional wisdom that The Cardinals can’t hit lefties is created for several reasons. 1) It is a smaller sample size 2) fans are over evaluating the randomness of the win-loss record against lefties, which is actually just under .500 and 3) Kozma played so poorly this year over so many at bats that it brings the numbers down.

Whatever theory you accept, at least take solace in knowing the numbers against lefties are improving, either by strategy or just the numbers regressing back to the mean as more games are played.

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Examining the Royals’ rest of season schedule

The end of the season is drawing closer and closer and the playoff race is heating up in the American League. The Kansas City Royals, despite dropping two of three games in Detroit, still have hopes of catching one of the two wild card spots.

JamesShields

Kansas City currently sits 3.5 games behind the Rays and the Rangers who are both 81-67 and would be the two wild card teams if the season ended today.

The problem for the Royals is they would have to pass four teams in order to make the postseason. The Indians are just 0.5 games out of the wild card, while the Orioles are 2.5 and the Yankees are 3.0. The Royals have 13 games remaining and need to get hot quickly. Let’s take a look at the Royals’ remaining schedule:

3-game home set with the Indians starting Monday
This is a big opportunity for the Royals to make up games in the standings. Kansas City is 7-9 on the season against the Indians, but they took two of three at the Tribe a week ago. The Royals will have ace James Shields on the mound to open the three-game set, going up against lefty Scott Kazmir of the Indians. Shields beat Kazmir back on September 11 in Cleveland.

3-game home set with Rangers starting 9/20
This is another chance for the Royals to make up ground in the wild card race. Texas has struggled in September after leading the AL west for a large portion of the year. The Royals are just 1-2 against Texas this year, after losing a series back in early June.

3-game set at the Mariners starting 9/23
The Royals are 3-1 this year against Seattle after taking three of four in a home series with the Mariners back in the first week of September. All four games in that series were deciding by two runs or less, so this should be a challenging series for the Royals in a time where they need to pick up victories.

4-game set at the White Sox starting 9/26
The Royals close the season in Chicago facing the last-place White Sox. This could be a dangerous series as the White Sox have little to play for except for spoiling the Royals’ season. Chicago actually leads this season series 8-7, but the two teams haven’t met since the end of July.

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Royals September call-ups playing a different role this season

From September 1 to the end of the season, Major League Baseball allows teams to expand their rosters from 25 to a maximum of 40 players. Teams call up players from the minors to give them major league playing time, or to add depth for a team’s potential playoff run. For many years, the Royals were out of the playoff hunt by September. So to make games somewhat interesting, the team called up minor league prospects to give them a taste of the majors and give fans a glimpse of the future. But this year, things are different.

Johnny-Giavotella

The Royals called up eight players from the minors this week: Catcher Brett Hayes, pitchers Francisley Bueno, Louis Coleman, Wade Davis and Donnie Joesph, and infielders Johnny Giavotella, Pedro Ciriaco and Carlos Pena. Except for Ciriaco and Pena, the others spent time on the Royals roster this season and only Joseph could be considered a prospect. But these players aren’t with the team to just get some playing time and audition for a roster spot next season. They’re with the Royals to provide depth on the bench and the bullpen and help the Royals win games down the stretch.

Hayes provides catching depth while Bueno and Joseph join Tim Collins and Will Smith as the Royals lefty relievers. Coleman shuttled between Omaha and Kansas City this season, giving the team solid outings while the struggling Davis is in the pen to regain his consistency. Giavotella will play second base as Chris Getz recovers from a possible concussion. Ciriaco will backup Alcides Escobar at shortstop. Pena signed with the Royals last week and played a few games for Omaha before joining the major league club. He provides a power bat off the bench and lets Eric Hosmer DH and Billy Butler play at first if needed.

With 23 games left in the season, each player will make the most of their playing time to help the team and to help themselves. And barring injuries by the starting players, their role will be to provide depth from the bench or the bullpen. How they play this month may decide if the Royals make the playoffs, or finish above or below .500. Whatever happens, it’s good to see the Royals play meaningful games in September.

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Now is the time for Kansas City Royals’ Duffy

After missing much of the year recovering from Tommy John surgery, it appears that Danny Duffy is ready to claim a spot in the Kansas City Royals’ rotation for the rest of this season and possibly next season as well.

DannyDuffy

Duffy, who has replaced the struggling Wade Davis in the starting rotation, shut down the Twins in his latest start. He pitched 6.2 innings, allowing just five hits and no runs, while striking out seven. Perhaps the most important stat from that start, however, was that Duffy did not allow a walk. It was the first start in his career that he didn’t issue a free pass.

The knock on Duffy has always been his lack of control. And pitchers that come back from Tommy John surgery tend to struggle finding a feel for the strike zone initially. In his only other two starts this season, Duffy walked two batters in 3.2 innings and three batters in 6 innings.

In Duffy’s three years pitching in the majors, he has a walk rate of 4.5/9. While the walks tend to pile up for the talented southpaw, he has always shown strike out potential, with a strike out rate of 8.0/9 for his career.

Duffy was drafted in the third round of the 2007 draft and coming into the 2011 season, he was ranked as the 68th best prospect in baseball according to Baseball America. So the potential has always been there.

The 6-foot-3 lefty spent six years in the minor leagues, earning 30-16 record, with an impressive 2.88 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. His minor league K/9 is 10.6 and his BB/9 is 3.0, considerably less than his 4.5 mark in the majors.

Duffy debuted in 2011, starting 20 games and finishing with a 4-8 record and a 5.64 ERA. He showed improvement in 2012 before his injury. He started six games and recorded a 3.90 ERA.

While the Tommy John injury delayed his development, Duffy appears to be back on track. He has a chance to show that he is a big part of the Royals’ future. If he can finish this season strong and continue to improve with his control, he should lock up a spot in next year’s starting five and perhaps beyond.

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Chen making the most of move back to rotation

The Kansas City Royals continued their winning ways on Thursday night, getting a great performance from Bruce Chen. Chen shut down the best offense in baseball, the Red Sox, in 7.2 innings of dominant pitching.

BruceChen

Chen didn’t allow a run against first-place Boston. He only recorded two strikeouts, but he continually changed speeds and forced weak contact from Red Sox hitters.

Chen, a 15-year MLB veteran, has been a revelation for the Royals this year since moving back into the starting rotation. He replaced Luis Mendoza in the Kansas City rotation, with his first start coming July 12 against the Indians. Chen earned a no-decision, despite not allowing a run, and the Royals lost 3-0.

After that loss, Chen reeled off four great starts, culminating with the win over Boston. Through five starts with the Royals this year, Chen is 2-0, and the Royals are 4-1 in those games.

Chen also excelled in his role as the long-man in the bullpen earlier in the year. But he is more valuable in the rotation especially when he pitches as well as he has over the past five games.

This season, Chen is 5-0 overall, with a sparkling 1.79 ERA through 65.1 innings.

The Panamanian-born lefty does have experience as a starting pitcher in his career. He has 208 career starts, including 34 for Kansas City last year. He was 11-14 with a 5.07 ERA in 191.2 innings in 2012.

Chen has three seasons with the Royals of more than 10 wins. His best season was in 2011, when he was 12-7 with a 3.77 ERA. He also won 12 games in 2010.

The Royals are Chen’ s 10th Major League team, and his stint of five years with Kansas City is the longest stretch with one team in his career.

The Royals clearly value what Chen provides. He is a quality pitcher, whether used in the bullpen or as a starter. He is in the midst of the best season of his career and should give the Royals’ rotation a shot in the arm as they continue their quest for the postseason.

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Here Comes Duffy

The Kansas City Royals were poised to make it “Our Time” in 2012 before star pitcher Danny Duffy found his way to Tommy John surgery.  The 2013 Royals, who are now four games back of both the division and the wild card, have suddenly taken on a successful feel.  Danny Duffy is set to return.

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

Photo Courtesy of Minda Haas

May 13, 2012 would be the most recent time that Danny Duffy, once believed to be the future ace of the ballclub, would take the mound as a Kansas City Royal.  Not long after that, it was determined that Duffy would require “Tommy John” surgery and his season plus most of the next one, would be lost.

Duffy would begin the long process of recovery.  Physical therapy would lead to soft tossing a ball.  Eventually, playing catch on level ground and long toss would assist the young lefty in building up the strength that he needed to get back on the mound.  On May 26, 2013, just over a year since his last pitch, he would throw his first one in a AA rehab assignment with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals.  The initial outings were short but productive, seeing Duffy rack up 15 strikeouts in his first three appearances, spanning just 10 innings, while only walking four.  He would allow 12 hits but would limit his early opponents to five earned-runs.  He was on his way to AAA Omaha to continue his work with the Stormchasers.

Success was moderate but noticeable as he continued his walk back to the majors.  His second appearance in Omaha on June 10 would be his worst yet, yielding seven runs on seven hits and two walks without striking out a batter.  He would only last two-and-one-third of an inning and many started to wonder if he was rushing back.  His next start would only last three innings, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks, though he would strike out five this time around.  Concerns began to mount.

Concerns were laid to rest shortly thereafter as Duffy proved that those two outings would be the shortest of his season, never failing to reach five innings again through his next eight starts.  He would never walk more than three batters the rest of the season, strike out fewer than four hitters only one time, and never yield more than four runs, which he only did twice.  His season reached a pinnacle as he made one more rehab start at AA on July 17.  That day, Duffy would last five-and-one-third of an inning, striking out a season best 13 batters and walking only one.

Duffy would return to AAA to make two more starts, both impressive, and seemingly rounded out his minor league stint for 2013.

Duffy’s season thus far has given seen him surrender seven home runs, walk 27, strikeout 77, surrender 59 hits and allow opposing batters to hit .250 against him over 64 innings pitched.

Tomorrow, August 7, 2013 is opening day for Danny Duffy.  He will return to the mound at Kauffman Stadium for the first time in almost 15 months.  He will take the ball as the starter for the Royals in the middle of a playoff run and look to solidify the rotation.

Duffy is back.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can talk baseball with him on Twitter or read more of his St. Louis Cardinals analysis on Yahoo!.

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The Steal Of Home

It is one of the lost plays in baseball.  Stealing home plate is a risky and dangerous move.

JonathanVillar

Stealing home has been attempted by very few players at and accomplished by even less.  What we are talking about here is not the “stolen base” that one gets when he is the runner on third in a double steal.  It’s not the “stolen base” that a player gets when he advances during a pick-off attempt.  The straight steal of home by a runner on third is a thing of beauty.

It’s rare and usually requires the stars to align in a specific way.  A lefty on the mound is a good start.  A right handed hitter improves the chances.  A great amount of speed and precise timing for the runner are imperative.

Here is the video from MLB.com

The stars aligned on Tuesday night and Houston Astros’ rookie Jonathan Villar broke for the plate.  He surprised the announcers.  He surprised the pitcher.  He surprised the cameramen.  He even surprised his own hitter.  And he was safe.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can read more of his thoughts on the Yahoo Contributor Network and discuss baseball with him on Twitter.

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St. Louis Cardinals need to give Shelby Miller a break

The second half of the Major League Baseball season is still a week away, but St. Louis Cardinals rookie right-handed starting pitcher Shelby Miller is throwing as if the calendar is about to turn to September, not July.

ShelbyMiller4

Miller had the worst outing of his brief career Friday when he gave up five runs in 1.2 innings in a 6-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics, which continued a downward trend that suggests Miller could use a few extra days off as the regular season reaches its midpoint.

Miller had a sensational start to the season. He won five of his first seven starts, including a one-hit, complete-game shutout in a 3-0 win May 10 over the Colorado Rockies. He followed that with a five consecutive quality starts to establish a 7-3 record with a 1.91 earned-run average that earned him a prominent spot on the Major League Baseball pitching leaderboards.

Then reality started to set in. The weather warmed up as Miller crossed the 80-inning plateau in early June, he has given up four or more runs in fewer than six innings in three of his last four starts and his ERA has risen to 2.79, which has him tied for the 17th best ERA in baseball with the man who beat the Cardinals on Friday, Bartolo Colon.

Unfortunately, the Cardinals are still one solid pitcher short of living close to Easy Street in terms of how to work their starting rotation. The team could’ve given Miller some additional off days in the past two weeks if left-handed starter Jaime Garcia hadn’t had to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery in May.

With four off days between June 24 and July 8, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny could’ve set the rotation in a way that would’ve had Miller start maybe twice during that stretch. However, Matheny has had to use that strategy with the No. 5 spot in the rotation after lefty starter Tyler Lyons faltered and dropped back to pitch for the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds June 22 after four straight poor starts in June.

Right-hander Joe Kelly replaced Lyons in that role, but he won’t make his first replacement start until July 6 because off all the off days. If Garcia hadn’t gotten hurt, the Cardinals could’ve put Miller in Kelly’s spot and given him some much-needed rest before the All-Star Break that begins July 15.

But that’s life in Major League Baseball. Part of the challenge for teams is how to navigate a six-month, 162-game schedule when players get hurt.

Thankfully, the schedule continues to offer the Cardinals a chance to lighten Miller’s workload before the All-Star Break. With off days the next two Mondays, Miller will likely make just two more starts before the break, and then he’ll have the four days of the break to rest, as well, assuming he doesn’t make the All-Star Team for the National League.

He probably would’ve been named an All-Star if they game had been played in mid-June instead of mid-July, but his numbers have dropped enough now that others will likely get the call ahead of him.

That’s OK. He needs the break, and the Cardinals dearly need him to be good in the second half of the season in what is shaping up to be one heck of a battle with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cincinnati Reds.

The Cardinals had 11 scheduled off days in the first half of the season but will only get five after the All-Star Break, so Miller and all of the Cardinals young pitchers will likely be pushed to the limit down the stretch in the heat of the pennant race.

With that intense schedule ahead, it is vital for the Cardinals to get their young players rest while they can, or the team’s incredibly fast start could become a distance memory if the Pirates and Reds end up as the NL Central Division playoff representatives.

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St. Louis Cardinals give nod to future by sending Michael Wacha back to minors

Major League Baseball teams typically generate significant interest in which minor-league player they are about to bring up to the big leagues, but the St. Louis Cardinals had similar intrigue related to which player they sent down to the minor leagues Friday.

MichaelWacha3

So goes life as the best team in the game.

Right-handed starter Jake Westbrook returned from the disabled list Friday to go five innings while allowing three earned runs to the Miami Marlins in a 5-4 loss, but his return forced the Cardinals to send one of their rookie starters back to the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.

Left-handed starter Tyler Lyons and right-handed starter Michael Wacha were the two pitchers on the bubble, along with right-handed reliever Keith Butler, and the Cardinals decided to send the Wacha back to Memphis while the Lyons remained with the team and will start Sunday against the Marlins.

The move was somewhat surprising since Cardinals management had previously said the 21-year-old phenom would not be a player they wanted to shuffle between Memphis and St. Louis and that he would be in the big leagues for good once he first came up.

Wacha even proclaimed, “I’m here to stay,” when he first arrived at Busch Stadium after the Cardinals called him up to start May 30 against the Kansas City Royals.

But reality intersected everybody’s dreams. The Cardinals brought Wacha to the majors before they really wanted to after starters Westbrook, Jaime Garcia and John Gast all suffered injuries in May, and he then didn’t excel as much as people expected/hoped.

Wacha pitched great in his first start, striking out six while allowing one run on two hits in seven innings against the Royals, but in every other start he looked more similar to a 21-year-old rookie who was barely a full year removed from college.

He gave up six runs on 10 hits in 4.2 innings June 4 to the Arizona Diamondbacks and allowed two runs in the first inning Wednesday against the New York Mets before settling in for six innings to get his first career victory as the Cardinals won 9-2.

Lyons, meanwhile, won his first two career starts, giving up one run in each, and then lost his next two as he allowed four runs each to two 2012 playoff teams, the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds.

However, Lyons doesn’t career the immense Wacha-type expectations with him. Lyons throws in the low-90s rather than Wacha’s 97 mph fastball, and he doesn’t have Wacha’s devastating change-up. Lyons was drafted in the ninth round of the 2010 MLB draft while the Cardinals took Wacha 19th overall in the 2012 draft.

All of that means Wacha is a prized prospect, and Lyons is just another pitcher the team hopes will contribute solid innings for years, rather than a top-of-the-rotation ace.

So the top-rated prospect went back to the minors to continue to develop. The Cardinals have a lot of pitching depth, but no team can afford to mess up the development of its first-round picks, and Wacha ran into some obstacles in two of his three starts.

Perhaps those experiences will benefit him in the long run. He now knows what to expect at the big-league level, but the Cardinals have also seen the ugly side of rushing prospects to the majors as much as any team when Rick Ankiel exploded with five wild pitches against the Atlanta Braves in the 2000 playoffs as a 20-year-old.

Ankiel, of course, ran into numerous other issues that ultimately derailed his pitching career, but he remains the prime example of what can happen when rushing a player to the big leagues goes bad.

The Cardinals also have plenty of cushion right now. They have the best record in baseball and plenty of other lesser prospects that can fill temporary voids.

Lyons could certainly develop into a solid pitcher who has a long career with the Cardinals, but the team has pinned its long-term hopes to Wacha.

Although Wacha wasn’t “here to stay,” he will be soon enough.

The restraint the Cardinals show in pushing Wacha now will pay off in the future, and that’s why he was the correct choice to send to the minors to open a spot for Westbrook.

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Making a case for the young corners

“(He) should hit for power and average because he has a sweet left-handed swing, strength, exceptional strike zone discipline and the ability to make adjustments. He uses the entire field and can drive the ball where it’s pitched.”

That was a scouting report by Baseball America of a Royals’ player before he was drafted.

MooseAndHos

The sweet lefty swing would probably lead you to believe that the player in question is one of the team’s up and coming stars, Mike Moustakas or Eric Hosmer. Both were first round draft picks, who joined the Royals with plenty of acclaim. Moustakas was the second overall pick in the 2007 draft and Hosmer was the third overall pick in the 2008 draft.

But the player reviewed above is neither Hosmer nor Moustakas, but rather Alex Gordon, the second overall pick of the 2005 draft.

After Gordon was drafted in 2005, he quickly made a name for himself in the minor leagues and Baseball America named Gordon its 2006 Minor League Player of the Year.

All the praise, all the numbers and all the awards for Gordon didn’t immediately translate into success at the big league level. Gordon did have a solid rookie season, hitting .247 with 15 homers, 60 RBI and 14 steals. But after that year (2007), his batting average steadily declined over the next few years until it reached .215 in 2010. Injuries limited Gordon to 164 at-bats in 2009 and 242 at-bats in 2010.

After four seasons in the big leagues, many Royals fans and baseball experts wondered if Gordon would live up to the promise he showed in college at Nebraska and in the minor leagues.

The situation was very similar to what Moustakas and Hosmer are facing right now. Plenty of hype, but limited results early on.

Here are some early scouting reports on Hosmer and Moustakas from Baseball America.

“Hosmer’s approach is very advanced for his age, and one scout likened it to Joey Votto‘s. He already likes to use the opposite field and has the strength to drive the ball out of the park while going the other way.”

“With his (Moustakas’) excellent bat speed, he can drive the ball out of the park to any field. He may never walk a lot, but he also has an uncanny ability to make contact.”

Gordon’s early reviews as well as his numbers from his first two seasons, closely resemble those of Hosmer and Moustakas.

These are two young lefty’s career stats with the Royals compared to Gordon’s first two seasons:

Moustakas: 1040 AB, 107 runs, 29 HR, 114 RBI, 8 SB, .240/.294/.384.
Hosmer: 1202 AB, 149 runs, 34 HR, 150 RBI, 30 SB, .263/.321/.403
Gordon: 1036 AB, 132 runs, 31 HR, 119 RBI, 23 SB, .253/.332/.421

Gordon switched from third base to left field in 2011 and his numbers quickly transformed. For the 2011 season, Gordon scored 101 runs, hit 23 homers, drove in 87 runs, stole 17 bases and boasted a .303 batting average. After a solid 2012 season, Gordon has great numbers early in the 2013 season.

While Gordon is flourishing, Hosmer and Moustakas are struggling out of the gate in 2013.

Moustakas is hitting just .176 this year with an OPS of .550 and Hosmer only has one home run on the year and has .264 batting average. To his credit, Hosmer had a good rookie year, with 19 homers and a .293 batting average in 523 at-bats. But he took a step back in his second year (2012), with his average dropping all the way down to .232.

Because they were praised and looked upon so highly by scouts and analysts, many Royals fans expected the early numbers would be better. But not every player progresses the same way. Not every young player is Mike Trout or Bryce Harper or even Manny Machado. Struggles at the highest level are not uncommon.

While Royals fans may be frustrated with the progress that Hosmer and Moustakas have made, they have to look no further than left field for an example of what the talented duo can become.

Gordon is proof that talent can take time to develop. So if Royals fans can take a patient approach while critiquing Hosmer and Moustakas, in a few years the results may match the hype. And that could be scary for Royals’ opponents.

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