Royals Report Cards: The Position Players, Part 1
After the doom and gloom of grading some of the pitching staff, it’s time to hand out grades to one of the more effective offenses in recent Royals memory. I’ve had some thought about how to go through this because there’s a lot to say, so I’m just going to go by positional number, which means I’m talking about the catchers first and designated hitter last. Unfortunately, since I get a little wordy, you’re only going to get part of the grades today and hopefully I can wrap them up tomorrow. If I need a third day, well, then I apologize for talking so much. So Billy Butler fans, stay tuned. Before I get to the grades, I just have to say that watching this Royals team bat was as fun as any time since 2003. By the end of the season when guys like Salvador Perez and Johnny Giavotella were in the lineup, I can honestly say that I had a hard time finding an at bat that I was okay with missing to go to the bathroom. So, sorry pitching staff, I missed a few outs here and there.
On another, note, remember to follow Clint Scoles on Twitter and head to Pine Tar Press for pictures and insights from Arizona on all the Royals prospects down there. He’s doing a great job, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit jealous.
Matt Treanor – Treanor came over to the Royals right before the start of the season and there was some head scratching as to why they’d bring over a guy like Treanor who had never had a ton of success in his career. It became pretty clear why they brought him to Kansas City. He called a good game and worked with young pitchers extremely well. Early in the season, he hit a dramatic homer against the Angels in extra innings and he was a fun guy to root for. I was pretty disappointed in his ball blocking skills as he seemed to let a ball get far enough away from him for a runner to advance once a game, but other than that he did a nice job. Offensively, he wasn’t much of a hitter, but he had a discerning eye that allowed him to post a .351 on base percentage in spite of a low average and low slugging percentage. Treanor was nothing special, but he was nice to have for most of the year before sustaining that concussion and then getting traded back to Texas where he’ll hopefully get a World Series ring.
Brayan Pena - Pena was disappointing this year offensive. Two years ago, it looked like the Royals had a real find in a guy who could catch and could hit. His defensive skills were never anywhere near top notch, but he had enough ability in his bat to make up for it. Well, he’s regressed. Don’t get me wrong, I love Brayan Pena. The passion and energy he plays with is contagious and I find myself smiling when they show him smiling. Still, a .625 OPS doesn’t cut it for a guy who doesn’t play very good defense. I don’t know what has caused it, but he’s pretty much fallen off a cliff offensively and probably won’t last too much longer in the big leagues, which is a shame. He might be the backup next season to Perez, but he won’t get much playing time in that role.
Salvador Perez – What can be said about Sal Perez that hasn’t already? Many believed he was rushed to the big leagues when the Royals brought him up in August. I thought that he might be getting rushed, but I wasn’t too worried about it because the Royals were going to put basically no pressure on him. They wanted him to play defense which is his calling card. For awhile it looked like his bat was so far behind that they’d have to send him back down. Then a funny thing happened and he started to hit. In less than two months, he accumulated 1.4 WAR according to Fangraphs. He hit .331/.361/.473 which exceeded even the wildest of expectations. He even walked more than I expected him to walk. You can tell he has some serious power and I can’t wait for his potential to be completely unleashed on the American League. If you can combine even 70% of that offense with his defense, then you’ve got yourself an amazing catcher. I made this prediction during the season, but I’ll bet that by 2016, Perez will have gotten more MVP votes than anybody on the team not named Hosmer or Moustakas.
Eric Hosmer – We’ll start with the man who started the wave of prospects coming to the big leagues. I’ve talked a lot about Hosmer, so I won’t bore you with things I’ve already gone over. Well, yes I will. And I’m guessing it doesn’t bore you much to see a 21 year old in the big leagues hit .293/.334/.465. Only a last week swoon kept him from hitting .300. He almost got to 20 homers and that’s with missing a month of the season. The potential on this guy is absolutely through the roof. If he is able to reach his ceiling, and he stays with the Royals for awhile, his number will very easily be next to the three already on the Hall of Fame building in left field. I’m not saying he’s going to definitely have his number retired, but if all goes well, then he has that kind of talent. There are still a couple of areas where Hosmer needs to improve. He has a long way to go in terms of his plate discipline and a lot of that just includes laying off the high fastball. Once he learns to do that, I think he’ll be an even bigger beast than we already see on a day to day basis. He doesn’t have the issues that a lot of young left-handed hitters do with the offspeed pitch low and away. Well, he has it sometimes, but not as bad as most. Once he lays off the high fastball and hits lefties, he’ll be in business.
I’ll take this opportunity to say that I’m not going to grade Kila Ka’aihue. I still don’t feel like he was given enough of a chance, though what little chance he had, he floundered. He’s an Oakland Athletic now, but I agree with Greg that he’ll be a star in Japan pretty soon.
Chris Getz -¬†Sadly, he played second base more than anybody in the majors in 2011. You’ve all heard me complain about Chris Getz, and frankly even I’m tired of it. He sucks. He does very little at even an average level and hopefully the days of Chris Getz getting 400 at bats are over.
Johnny Giavotella – I don’t know that I had ever been so excited to see a prospect come to the big leagues as I was when Johnny Giavotella got called up. I know he wasn’t the top ranked prospect in the organization or anything, but he was my little pet project of trying to get him to the big leagues. I was doing that from spring training on and when he finally got the call, I felt pretty proud even though I had literally nothing to do with it. I was both disappointed and encouraged by him in his first month and a half in the majors. His defense was a little better than I had heard, but he definitely has his shortcomings. His bat was what disappointed me more than anything, but I think that it was more about the adjustment period than anything else. I see Giavotella as a guy who can hit .300 in the big leagues. Think of him as a poor man’s Chuck Knoblauch. In 2011, he was somewhat disappointed in the Major Leagues, but I think that’s going to get better. One encouraging statistic is that he hit a ton of line drives and didn’t get as many hits off them as he should have. Some scoff at BABIP as an indicator of luck, but I like to look at it as one of the factors and when you hit a line drive 21% of the time, your BABIP should be better than .288. I’m looking for a strong season from him in 2012.
Mike Aviles – I’m not sure of a better place to put him, but it doesn’t really matter. The former Royals player of the year is gone after a pretty terrible 2011 campaign. He didn’t hit, he didn’t field and he didn’t really want to be a utility player on a club going nowhere. I get that, but it still bugs me that he said something. I’ll still root for Mike Aviles, but it’s hard to look at 2011 as anything other than a failure for him.
I was going to try to get through the infield, but I don’t want to inundate you with more to read, so we’ll hopefully finish up tomorrow with the offense. If I don’t finish it tomorrow, I’ll lump whoever is left (probably #Countrybreakfast) with the coaching staff and front office, so you’ll have your much awaited grades by the end of the week. Oh yeah, go Rangers!
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