The kings of irrelevant success are at it early in 2012. After putting together winning Septembers in three of the last four seasons, your 2012 Kansas City Royals have started the month of August at 10-6, perhaps starting their annual trek up the standings one month ahead of time. Still trailing their division leader by 13 games, this recent hot streak means little even if it’s continued at its current pace for the next 45 days, so what does matter as we head down the stretch? Here are five numbers that I think are far more important than how many games the Royals win in the next 6 weeks.
- Johnny Giavotella’s fielding percentage. Technically it may actually be more important what his defense looks like to Ned Yost. We all know the Royals aren’t the most interested team in advanced defensive metrics, so it definitely doesn’t matter what his UZR looks like. Regardless, second base is the one place the Royals could most significantly improve their offense in 2013(besides right field, and Jeff Francoeur is going nowhere), assuming Giavotella can prove to management that his glove will play.
- Jeremy Guthrie’s contract. Guthrie has clearly earned himself a two year deal from Dayton Moore at the minimum. There is nothing more that Moore loves than featuring a player that makes him look smart, and getting anything at all for Jonathan Sanchez looks brilliant. If it’s a two year deal for $14 million, I’m good with it…and it may signal the end of the Luke Hochevar era. If it’s a three year deal for $30 million and Guthrie is starting on Opening Day next year, I’ll be furious.
- Billy Butler’s home run total. Should this matter? Not really, but it’s been a sore spot for fans for far too long and could be the only thing to drive fans to the park the couple of weeks of the season. Butler needs twelve home runs over his last 44 games to break the most embarrassing franchise record in baseball. He hit 11 in 44 games earlier in the year, so it’s certainly possible.
- Wil Myers’ games played. The only thing that would make any sense at all would be if the Royals bring Myers up in September and let him play nearly every day. If they don’t I’m really going to have some questions about their plans for him. The only reasonable explanation to me would be that they plan on trading him this winter and don’t want him exposed at the big league level.
- Alex Gordon’s batting average. I am shocked that Ned Yost chose to mess with Gordon’s place in the order yet again. Let me rephrase that, I would be shocked if a competent manager chose to jerk a player around as much as Yost has with Gordon. Gordon is clearly most comfortable in the lead off role. Yost is clearly uncomfortable with someone batting lead off with that high of an on base percentage.