After updating the Stat Guy database Monday, a shocking conclusion was reached: The Royals are pretty bad.
OK, we knew that. But, as usual, the Royals are across-the-board bad, which is disappointing. Most troubling has been the offense. The preseason projection was for the hitters to be close to the middle of the pack but with several young regulars, there was the possibility of being much better than that.
The SG database calculates win stats for all the big three categories — hitting, pitching and fielding. Through Sunday, Royals hitters ranked 29th in the major leagues with -14.1 wins added, which is last in the American League.
John Buck and Mark Teahen are the only regulars with positive wins-added figures. Even Teahen, though, is underproducing his projection. While he’s right on target in terms of batting average and on-base percentage, Teahen has yet to find the consistent power stroke that made him such a dynamic hitter during the second half of last season. However, Teahen started slow last year and there really isn’t any reason to doubt that the extra bases will come.
As for Buck, well, he’s been a revelation. Buck turns 27 in July, the most common age for a hitter’s career season, and had similar numbers in some of his minor-league campaigns. Buck’s 0.62 hitting wins-added is the best on the Royals and fourth among catchers in all of baseball, and that’s before his two-home run game Monday.
Bad timing for Buck: Fellow catchers Victor Martinez, Jorge Posada and Russell Martin are all off to monster starts. Otherwise, Buck would be a deserving All-Star starter, not just the Royals’ default pick. Those aforementioned backstops all have about 60 at-bats more than Buck, and that is unfortunate.
OK, we didn’t expect Buck to hit this well, but this idea of having him catch just three out of five games ought to be tossed into the wastebasket along with the blueprints of the Edsel and the recipe for New Coke. The backup catcher, Jason LaRue, is hitting .136 and in 59 at-bats has posted -.52 wins-added — almost undoing the good work Buck has done.
Here’s one other Buck tidbit for you. According to hittrackeronline.com, Buck has averaged 409.6 feet per home run this season. Only six batters in baseball have done better, led by Martin’s 415.3 feet per long ball.
Other than Buck, pretty much every Royals hitter has fallen short of his projection to date. Alex Gordon was projected to produce 20.1 runs above average; he’s on pace for -28.2. But you have to stick with him, right? The only obvious way to improve the attack is to replace Mark Grudzielanek (-.52 wins added) on an everyday basis with Esteban German (-.03). Billy Butler probably should be DH-ing rather than Mike Sweeney (-.30) — both for now and for the future.
But those moves would have only a modest impact.
Only four Royals hitters have posted above-average wins-added totals so far this season.
|Tony Peña Jr.||-1.07|
talk about awesome.