Morning Coffee: Royals Offense Clicking in Spring Training
Guys like Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas and Justin Maxwell have stepped up this spring and are helping to fuel a Kansas City Royals offense that is really clicking through the first three weeks of games in the spring. I know I talk about how unimportant spring training statistics are all the time, and they still are, but it’s fun to look at how guys who are actually going to make the team are doing. It’s great to talk about how a guy like Christian Colon has done this spring, but he’s already been sent to minor league camp and isn’t likely to make an impact on the big league roster, at least not initially. So I looked at my projected Royals position players and how they’ve done this spring. Just a warning. It’s good. It’s really good.
Before we get going, here’s how I see the position players breaking down, as of today, March 17:
I broke down the Royals offense by starting lineup and backups and then combined them. This is all through yesterday’s game in Peoria against the San Diego Padres.
.344/.398/.541, 20 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs, 21 walks, 40 strikeouts in 270 at bats
Positives -Â The players who jump out to me among the starters are Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon. Moustakas has hit .438/.513/.906 in 32 at bats this spring and has looked so much better than he did throughout the season last year. I feel like I’ve said this 100 times, but he’s done this before, so we’ll have to see if this actually means anything. The encouraging thing about Moustakas is that he seems to be seeing the ball better this spring than in the past. I noticed that while I was there, and the statistics corroborate that belief. He’s walked five times and struck out just four times. Last year, he walked five times all spring and struck out 16 times. That’s very encouraging. Again, with Moustakas I’m very skeptical, but all signs point positive for him to this point. Gordon is just kind of doing his thing. He has only walked once this spring, but I’m less worried about something like that with him since he’s proven that’s not really an issue for him. Perez has also been outstanding, hitting for both average and power. I wish his plate discipline was better, though. His on base percentage this spring is below his average. If his lack of plate discipline wasn’t a trend, I wouldn’t be as worried, but Perez will struggle to grow as a hitter as long as he hacks at everything.
Negatives -Â The big negative is that Alcides Escobar has only been able to get six at bats to this point in the spring. One thing I’ve mentioned already is that Lorenzo Cain just looks uncomfortable to me so far. The numbers are good average-wise, but he isn’t really hitting much with authority. It’d be nice to see him get some extra base hits before camp breaks because he just seems off offensively. Aoki hasn’t been so great to this point in the spring with a .273/.324/.333 line. He has had some good at bats and I think he’s a pretty proven player, so I’m not worried, but if the Royals offense is going to be good in the regular season, Aoki is going to be a big part of that. I have faith in him. There isn’t much to not like without getting a little nitpicky. Hosmer has looked good at times, but has had some really bad swings, but he looked just fine to me.
.342/.404/.522, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs, 14 walks, 20 strikeouts in 113 at bats
Positives -Â Woo boy, look at those numbers. There’s a lot to like on the bench this spring. The two backup outfielders, Jarrod Dyson and Justin Maxwell have hit like crazy with Maxwell’s big game against the Padres yesterday. Let’s start with Dyson. He has hit the ball with authority this spring with one long homer and one ball yesterday that was hit off the top of the wall on a line. It’s not the power that has me excited about Dyson, though. He’s taking pitches and working walks like crazy. He has nine walks in 33 plate appearances so far this spring and his OBP is .545. An OBP of .545 is obviously phenomenal for anybody, but a guy like Dyson who can fly getting on base at this rate would be huge for the Royals because you never know if Cain will stay healthy and if he does, you don’t know if he’ll hit enough. Maxwell has a line similar to Perez in that his average is higher than his OBP and that makes me wonder if a lot of his success is Arizona aided. He also has nine strikeouts in just 43 at bats. That’s a bit concerning, but he’s been very good so far.
Negatives -Â Valencia got off to a bad start and hasn’t really recovered. He has looked a bit better of late and hit a homer early in the spring, but hasn’t done much else. He has shown some pretty decent plate discipline that we haven’t seen from him throughout his career, so that’s interesting. Based on his career, my guess is it’s a sample size blip, but it’s worth watching at least. Brett Hayes isn’t really a negative because he’s had a few hits, but he’s just not much of a hitter anyway. He’s probably about right considering his career level, but if Perez goes down, the Royals could be in big trouble.
Of course, everything here has to be taken with a spring training grain of salt. Everything is skewed by Arizona, minor league opposition and sample size, among other things. Still, the early results have been very good for the Royals offense this spring. The 13 players I expect to make the roster out of spring training have a combined .342/.404/.522 line with 12 home runs in 383 at bats. I think the Royals will get their share of doubles, but home runs will be a bit of a problem. They’re struggling a bit to hit the long ball in Arizona, so I can only imagine what will happen in Kansas City. That said, things so far are looking pretty good. Maybe it’ll mean nothing heading into the season, but no matter what your thoughts on spring training statistics (and I probably agree with them), I’d rather they have good numbers than bad. And the numbers are quite good.
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