Kansas City Royals Roster in 2013: State Of The Union

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Friday, January, 11/2013

[There should be a lot more smiles and high-fives for the Royals in 2013 as they are continue to improve around their core of talented players. Will 2013 finally be the year the Royals make their long overdue return to the playoffs?]

There should be a lot more smiles and high-fives for the Royals in 2013 as they are continue to improve around their core of talented players. Will 2013 finally be the year the Royals make their long overdue return to the playoffs?

Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Intern): 

The Kansas City Royals have been notorious bottom dwellers of the American League Central for years now. Their last and only World Series title came in 1985, and since then they haven’t even made a playoff appearance. After the ’93 season – the Royals moved from the AL West to the AL Central, and have only finished with 80 or more wins once.

The 2013 Royals shouldn’t let this dismal past hold them back though. The 2013 Royals should be better than the 2012 team which finished a somewhat respectable 3rd in their division, and the team of 2013 has the potential to be the best team the Royals have had in the past 20 years. There are a lot of variables that could make or break this Royals season, so you might not want to mark them down for a World Series appearance just yet, but making the playoffs with a winnable Central Division, and two wild card spots up for grabs might be within Kansas City’s reach.

2012 Kansas City Royals Highlights and Pictures

Billy Butler (Country Breakfast) heads into 2013 with a .300 Career Average and coming off a personal best year of 107 RBI in 2012.

Billy Butler (Country Breakfast) heads into 2013 with a .300 Career Average and coming off a personal best year of 107 RBI in 2012.

Looking at the Royals, they have one major challenge in the Central – and that is the Detroit Tigers. The boys from Motown have have been perennial contenders in the division for the last several years because of a good pitching rotation with a true ace. The Royals may not have matched them  for talent just – with the moves they made this offseason, but they’re a lot closer to that model now than they were this time last year. In December, the Royals went out and got a legitimate #1 starter in James Shields in a trade with the Rays that sent top prospects Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi amongst others to Tampa. The Royals also got Wade Davis in the deal. Shields has logged at least 200 IP each year since ’07, and in an incredible ’11 campaign he even had 11 Complete Games (4 Shutouts) and a 2.82 ERA – which was good enough for 3rd in the Cy Young race. After Shields in the rotation comes Jeremy Guthrie – who the Royals re-signed to a  3 YR/25 Million Dollar Deal this offseason, and Ervin Santana – whom the Royals snagged from the Angels on the cheap, when the Angels were trying to dump his $12 Million Contract for whatever they could get in return. Wade Davis, who had success as a reliever in 2012, will likely be converted back into a starter for the Royals in 2013.

This will be nothing new for Davis as he was a starter in Tampa the ’10 and ’11 seasons – experiencing a fair amount of success in the role. The last starter will likely be Bruce Chen, although Luke Hochevar is still in the mix for a spot as of now. Both Chen and Hochevar have been reportedly shopped by the Royals, so that is something to keep an eye on. Overall, The Royals will have a formidable rotation from top to bottom.

[Big game James is now a member of the Kansas City Royals. His 3.52 ERA in a tough AL East division last year says he will be ready to lead the Royals pitching staff in 2013.]

Big game James is now a member of the Kansas City Royals. His 3.52 ERA in a tough AL East division last year says he will be ready to lead the Royals pitching staff in 2013.

Continuing the pitching theme, the Royals don’t have the best bullpen, but it could be worse too. Greg Holland was their closer after they dealt Jonathan Broxton to the Reds at the trade deadline last year.  Holland proved to be a serviceable closer, not too surprising as he has been a top reliever for the year and a half prior to getting a chance to close. To accompany Holland in the pen, Kelvin Herrera had a really good year in 2012.   Tim Collins, Aaron Crow, and Louis Coleman all had solid years last year in relief as well. The Royals bullpen could use some reinforcements, but then again so could most bullpens. The Royals will probably try to make do with what they have, but depending on where they sit come Trade Deadline time, they too might be in line for some bullpen help like the rest of the contenders (if they too are still in contention).

While the rotation has been much improved through outside sources this offseason in Kansas City, and the bullpen has stayed put, the lineup is hoping to be improved by means within the organization. The Royals don’t really need to go out and add position players; they just need their current position players to develop into what they are capable of. Their lineup going into 2013 will be young, but could be formidable.

Luckily, the Royals should be able to count on their two best hitters, Alex Gordon and Billy Butler, to turn in good performances once again. Gordon hit .294/.368/.455 with 14 HR and 72 RBI – while winning a Gold Glove in Left Field for the second straight year. Butler hit .313/.373/.510 with 29 HR and 107 RBI from the DH spot. One of the other veterans on the squad is Right Fielder Jeff Francoeur. Francoeur plays a solid Right Field, plus he adds some pop to the back-end of the lineup, although he won’t walk much, but does strikeout a bunch. The last real veteran in the lineup is Second Baseman Chris Getz who is a solid end of the lineup guy, but not a stud in any way. A young stud who may be ready by midseason to take over at Second is Christian Colon. The 2010 top draft pick of the Royals briefly reached AAA in 2012. With a little more seasoning, he could be ready for the show at some point in 2013. He is definitely the long-term plan at Second for the Royals.

Can Alex Gordon lead a young Royals team to the playoffs in 2013? After two back to back great seasons, a third one in the upcoming campaign would be a great way to lead by example for the rising star.

Can Alex Gordon lead a young Royals team to the playoffs in 2013? After two back to back great seasons, a third one in the upcoming campaign would be a great way to lead by example for the rising star.

The X-Factor for the Royals in 2013 will be the development of their young, but talented position players. This is a list that includes Center Fielder Lorenzo Cain, Shortstop Alcides Escobar, Third Baseman Mike Moustakas, Catcher Salvador Perez, and First Baseman Eric Hosmer. Lorenzo Cain’s 2012 was riddled with 3 leg injuries which allowed him to play in only 61 games for the Royals. In those 61 games – Cain did show the ability to be an everyday Center Fielder in the big leagues, and should only improve on the solid production he was able to put out in the relatively small sample size this past season. Shortstop Alcides Escobar has played the past 3 seasons in the Majors (the first with Milwaukee, the second two with Kansas City) and has increased his offensive production each year, especially this past year. Maybe this is due to increased familiarity of Major League Pitching, and being in a comfortable position as a starter for the same club for two straight years. Even if Escobar’s production plateaus, he would be a very solid regular, but there is still room for him to improve even more, which would be a big bonus for KC.

Moustakas will need to improve on his 20 HRs and 73 RBI year in 2012.  He is only 24 Years of Age heading into 2013

Moustakas will need to improve on his 20 HRs and 73 RBI year in 2012. He is only 24 Years of Age heading into 2013.

Mike Moustakas has what it takes to handle the hot corner, and has the potential to be an above average offensive player. He hasn’t put up the production you would expect from a former 2nd overall draft pick even in the Minors, but he does sort of resemble a former Royals Third Baseman that now plays Left Field for them in Alex Gordon. Gordon was a highly touted prospect as well and struggled to put all his potential together for his first four seasons, but then in 2011 seemed to finally “get it.” The Royals are hoping it doesn’t take Moustakas another two years, but they will live with the growing pains of being an everyday Major Leaguer that Moustakas is going through. If this is the year Moustakas breaks through, it will be an incredible lift to the Royals lineup.

It seems like Kansas City is just stacked with extremely talented young players, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re always drafting near the top. Eric Hosmer is one of those guys, and like Moustakas, if Hosmer could finally put it all together at the plate and produce the numbers he’s capable of, it would be the kind of lift the Royals need to make a postseason push. Hosmer played well in his rookie campaign in 2011, but regressed in 2012. Maybe it was just a sophomore slump for the Frist Baseman, but even still, Hosmer is capable of much more than his solid rookie campaign and his forgettable past season. The Royals are really counting on him to bounce back from a bad season, and I think you have to believe he will. The real question isn’t about whether he will be better than he was in 2012, but the question is, how much better will he be?

The last of the young players to talk about could potentially be the best. Salvador Perez is the type of Catcher that teams salivate over. He can certainly handle himself behind the plate, but up at the dish, he is a special. The young Venezuelan product had injury troubles of his own in 2012, but in the 76 games he did play for the Royals, he played well. He will need to learn to be more patient at the plate, but he can flat-out hit the ball, and with power.

The Royals have a young, well-rounded roster, and still have the pieces in their farm system to get reinforcements if needed. At the top of their farm system is some near MLB ready pitching that they could harvest if needed in 2013, although I don’t know how impactful they would be, but maybe better used in a trade. It will prove useful beyond 2013 for sure though. Young teams generally don’t have a lot of success, but I think this Royals team is different. Never have I seen a team that is still in the rebuilding phase, although the Royals are pretty far into this phase at this point, with so much talent. The Royals outlook on 2013 is probably in hopes of making a playoff spot, which is feasible. They finished 3rd in the AL Central last year, and I think they have a real shot at leapfrogging the White Sox and jumping into 2nd and a possible Wild Card spot. The Tigers will once again be a strong team, and should be able to take the division, but other than that, the Royals may finally get their chance to feast on some bottom dwellers rather than be the ones being feasted on for once.

Potential Royals Rotation: J. Shields, J. Guthrie, E. Santana, W. Davis, B. Chen

Potential Royals Lineup: (8) L. Cain, (6) A. Escobar, (7) A. Gordon, (DH) B. Butler, (5) M. Moustakas, (2) S. Perez, (3) E. Hosmer, (9) J. Francoeur, (4) C. Getz

Salvador Perez hopes to provide the Royals with some muscle behind the plate and at bat with a full, healthy season in 2013, improving upon the 11 HR and 39 RBI he hit in less than half of the season in 2012.

Salvador Perez hopes to provide the Royals with some muscle behind the plate and at bat with a full, healthy season in 2013, improving upon the 11 HR and 39 RBI he hit in less than half of the season in 2012.

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

Welcome  to our newest Baseball Intern: Ryan Dana:

ryan danaRyan Dana is junior studying physical education with a concentration in coaching at Bridgewater State University. He has been playing baseball since he was 7 and coaching since he was 14. Ryan wants to be a college baseball coach once he graduates.  Ryan is, and always will be, a diehard Boston Red Sox fan. Secondary to baseball, he is a big health and fitness enthusiast.  You can find Ryan on Twitter.

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Posted on January 11, 2013, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis, The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Salvy Perez has one of the lowest strikeout ratios in baseball. Why would you say he needs to be more patient at the plate?

    • I can answer this one. First off Drew, thanks for commenting. Francouer should not even in be in the Major Leagues anymore with his brutal OBP. What Ryan is saying here (about Perez) is that he will need to start walking some in order to raise his own OBP. If Perez plays a full season at Catcher, it will be much harder to maintain a .300 Batting Average over a full year. If he has the same production, plus can duplicate the .301/.329/.798 then great – however his body will break down a little more with 500+ ABs compared to 300. No doubt he is a great young hitter and his K Rate is really good at 1 time per 11 PA. We just hope he doesn’t end up hitting .280 with a OBP of just above .300 ( that doesn’t help the team very much.)

  2. Francoeur does not play a solid right field. His arm might be the best in baseball, but his ability to reach balls might be the worst in baseball. And if he plays like 2012, he adds no pop to the back of the lineup.

  3. Yes, when I said Perez needed to be more patient, that is pretty much what I meant. He only had 12BB’s in 305PA. If he can consistently hit .301, then alright, but a .328OBP isn’t anything spectacular, he can do better. You are completely right though, his stikeout rate is impressive. As far as Francoeur goes, he had an all-around down year last year, but throughout his career he has a .426 Slugging% which is within the league average…and he’s projected to hit 8th, so for the end of the lineup that’s not bad. Obviously people see he has a great arm like you mention, but his range isn’t terrible. Again last year was not a good example, but his career UZR/150 games is 4.6 which 5 is considered above average.

  4. Also, Royals will have a formidable rotation from top thru 4th, but not top thru bottom if Hochevar or Chen is #5 starter.

    • You really seem like you want to point out flaws in my article, and please continue to try, but you aren’t backing your statements up with many good points or facts. The 5th starter is probably going to be Chen, and Hochevar will move to bullpen (as things sit now), and either way, most teams only have a good top 3 or 4. No 5th starter is going to get any starts in the playoffs, and Chen gave the Royals 190+ innings last year with a 5.07 ERA which is more innings and a lower ERA than the World Series Champions “5th starter” Tim Lincecum. Compared to last season their rotation is vastly better, so yes I’m calling it formidable.

  5. You are bragging about a 5.07 ERA????? Sorry, unacceptable. The Royals claim the fight for #5 is between Hochevar, Chen and Mendoza. Hochevar (5.65ish w/o looking it up) is among the 5 worst pitchers in the history of baseball. In approximately 150 outings in his 5 years, he has 6 or 7 outstanding, 20ish average and the balance horrible. Anyhow, no one mentions how our best starter, Paulino, should be back from Tommy John surgery mid-summer. This man is an awesome horse. Hope he will still be the same after he comes back. The Royals are also touting Duffy, who has shown me very little so far.

  6. Not bragging, saying it’s within reason for a 5. I absolutely agree Mendoza should get a fair shot at starting, but from what I heard he was behind Chen/Hochevar in line for starting spot (what I heard, and could, or even should, change). Saying Hochevar is a top 5 worst pitcher in history is an over-exaggeration, he’s not good, but I’d like to see what he can do out of the bullpen. Paulino may be able to help the rotation, but I’m guessing he will start out in the bullpen and possibly stay there for the remainder of 2013 once he returns, teams aren’t usually in a rush to get a guy coming off TJ surgery a lot of innings. I agree on Duffy, not sure why they’re touting him, I’m going to wait and make him show me something before I say he will have any impact.

  7. Yes, Mendoza is behind Chen & Hoch in the running, but because that is their belief. My belief is that Mendoza is better. I’ll try to find the article, but Hoch and Kyle Davies are supposedly among the worst starting pitchers in all time baseball history.

  8. Table about 1/3 of the way down: http://www.ranyontheroyals.com/2012/09/jeremy-and-luke.html

    Remember that fantastic stat last season, that Kyle Davies had the highest ERA in major league history for anyone with 120 starts? Well, Luke Hochevar now has 123 starts in his career, so here’s that list again:

    1. Kyle Davies, 5.59
    2. Casey Fossum, 5.45
    3. Jimmy Haynes, 5.37
    4. Kevin Ritz, 5.35
    5. Luke Hochevar, 5.30
    6. Scott Elarton, 5.29
    7. Jose Lima, 5.26

    (I couldn’t resist running the list seven deep. Four of those seven pitchers have toiled for the Royals within the last seven years.)

  9. Alright I see what you’re getting at now, he’s clearly not top 5 worst pitcher of all-time, but rather top 5 worst with 120+ starts. That makes sense. A little lower in the piece the author talks about the xFIP of Hochevar, which is pretty interesting.

  10. Sorry, virtually all stats require a minimum number of “appearances”, I was assuming that, and assuming you were assuming that. Heck, one season Ken Brett pitched 2 innings for KC and had a 0.00 ERA, :-)

  11. Yeah that one was my bad.

  12. Anyhow, I don’t want Hoch on the team at all.

  13. Not sure I agree with your assessment of the Royals bullpen. They clearly have a top 5 bullpen in all of baseball. Great article otherwise.

    • Thank you, and taking a second look I would agree with you that I should have worded the bullpen paragraph differently. I would have probably put them more in the 5-10 range than top 5, but the wording makes it sound more like they are middle of the pack, which they are better than. They have a good amount of options for the pen, although the late inning options aren’t quite as deep. They ranked 6th in bullpen ERA last year, and considering they pitched the 2nd most innings, and they shouldn’t be worked as much with improved rotation, that will most likely help which I didn’t really think too much of. I guess my point would be, there are only a few elite bullpens, and I wouldn’t consider KC there yet, although they are close, and while other teams have went out and got bullpen help KC hasn’t this offseason. I think if they still had a guy like Broxton, they are top 5, but they could use one late inning veteran to make their bullpen complete.

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