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Royals Progress Report – The Hitters

We have reached the exact halfway point of the season. That means that I have license to go with the lazy blog post of assigning letter grades to the Royals to determine how they are doing to this point. I’m going to give grades to the players who have seen enough playing time throughout the first half of the season to be evaluated. That means that when I get to the pitchers I’m not going to be giving Jesse Chavez the F that he deserves just for being him. Kanekoa Texeira will also be spared from my grading scale as he pitched in few enough games this season that I actually had forgotten he pitched for the Royals this year until I looked it up on Baseball Reference.

Without further ado, the offense…

Catchers
Matt Treanor – C; I gave Treanor a C because he has done a lot of things well. I have to admit, though, that I am liking him less and less as the season wears on. I love the fact that he’s willing to work a walk, but he can’t really hit and has no power to speak of. His lack of speed makes his walks a little bit less worthwhile, though still great that he can get on base as much as he does. My major beef with Treanor is that he has developed a habit of blocking pitches, but they get far enough away from him in front of him that runners are still able to move up. It’s frustrating.

Bryan Pena – C; The state of the catching position is pretty bad these days, so Pena also gets a C. I really wanted the Royals to give him the starting job, but they acquired Treanor very late in the spring. It turns out that the time for Pena to start at catcher was a couple of seasons ago. Pena’s bat is adequate for the catcher’s position, and his defense is not nearly as bad as some would want you to believe, but it’s still not good.

Infielders
Eric Hosmer – B-; That may be a bit of a harsh grade for Hosmer who has a 103 OPS+ as a rookie and is being graded as he’s in his first real slump. The fact is, though, that he’s done a really nice job both offensively and defensively. There have been a couple of mental lapses with when he’s made throws, but for the most part everything has been fundamentally sound. If he can learn to control his swing a little bit and lay off the high fastball he’ll be great. I have no doubt that will happen.

Alcides Escobar – C+; I know that it seems odd that I’d give Escobar this high a grade with how anemic his bat has been this year, but his defense has just been so good that he’s able to hide his bat for the most part. Of course, it took a ridiculously hot streak to get his bat to the point of acceptable, but the point is that it’s there. I love watching Escobar play shortstop and hope the bat comes around even more.

Mike Moustakas – C; Moustakas has struggled as expected in his first couple of weeks at the big league level. The power just hasn’t been there like we expected it to be, but it’ll all come eventually. Defensively, I’ve been surprised with how solid he is as we’d heard reports that he was an absolute butcher. I’m always a bit amused by how he sets up to throw to first as he really gets his entire body behind it, but he’s accurate and has a fantastic arm, so it’s not worth changing until it causes problems. In the interest of full disclosure, if Moustakas had more than 66 plate appearances, I’d be very worried by his numbers, but at this point, I’m not so concerned.

Wilson Betemit – C-; Betemit has been ice cold lately, and part of that is probably due to getting such sporadic playing time, but he started the year hot and was probably the Royals best bat for a time in May when everybody else was slumping. I like what he brings to the table, but it’s pretty clear that it’s time for him to be traded because he needs playing time in order to be an effective bat in a lineup.

Chris Getz – D; Getz hasn’t been as bad as I thought he would be, but I also thought he would be one of the worst players in baseball. Instead, he’s just been incredibly below average. I think his defense is overrated, and I’m sick of hearing about how he just knows how to get infield hits. Hitting the ball hard is a skill. Hitting 33 choppers to the shortstop is not. I maintain that there’s a certain second baseman in AAA who can provide way more than Getz can, but for now we have to live with Getz apparently.

Mike Aviles – D-; I couldn’t quite bring myself to give Aviles an F, and it might be some personal bias showing through because I really like the guy. He was terrible, though, for the Royals this season. The saving grace for him was that he had a power surge in late April that make his numbers look simply bad rather than abysmal. He’s been tearing things up in Omaha, so I’m almost positive he’ll be back at some point this season. We’ll see if he was just in a slump or if he reached his peak and is now on his way out.

Kila Ka’aihue – F; I was able to bring myself to give Kila the F that he deserves for his month plus in the big leagues this season. I’m more upset with the organization for the way Ka’aihue was handled, but at some point the player needs to produce and he didn’t. There’s not much to say about his start to the season other than that it was slightly embarrassing to be someone who championed so strongly for Kila to make his debut only to be proven wrong. That’s okay, though, because I think he will have a lucrative few seasons in Japan.

Outfield
Alex Gordon – A; And we have our first A. Last year, Gordon promised Kansas City that he would dominate in 2011. While I’m not completely sure that what he’s doing can be described as dominating, I am sure that what he’s doing is fantastic. He’s hitting .293/.363/.479 and playing very good defense in left field. He has 13 assists, which is huge. He has 37 extra base hits. Basically he’s becoming something like the player we all expected he would be in 2007 when he first came up. For the first time in his career, his at bats are ones I do not want to miss.

Mitch Maier – B; He has had such limited playing time, but has been very good when called upon, getting on base and playing his usual strong outfield defense. With more playing time, I’m not confident he’d be able to keep a B, but he’s apparently in the perfect role for him.

Melky Cabrera – C+; If you had asked me prior to the season if I’d give Melky a grade better than a D at the mid-season point I’d have said you were crazy to think that I’d be lazy enough to do a grades post. I also would not have expected that Cabrera would be so effective. He’s grossly miscast as a leadoff hitter, but he’s provided some decent power and a good arm in center field. He takes terrible routes to balls and doesn’t have the speed to cover center in Kauffman Stadium, but he hasn’t been nearly as bad as I expected.

Jeff Francoeur – C-; Francoeur is living off his April numbers as he’s slumped badly since early May, but he has provided some value to the Royals. His defense has been better than advertised. He’s also been able to provide some much needed power in the Royals lineup with 31 extra base hits, second only to Alex Gordon. If Francoeur was hitting seventh or eighth, I think I might be okay with him being in the lineup every day. As a middle of the order hitter, though, he lacks.

Jarrod Dyson – C-; Dyson hasn’t really done much to deserve this grade as he’s been mostly used for his legs, but I just can’t get the image of him getting picked off by Neftali Feliz after he entered as a pinch runner. In his limited at bats this season he’s been pretty bad, but his speed and defense make up for him. Realistically, he should get an incomplete, but I make the rules.

Designated Hitter
Billy Butler – B+; This grade might actually be a little hard on Billy as he’s had a fine offensive season, upping his walk rate. For someone who doesn’t provide defensive value, though, he needs to provide at least a .900 OPS to be considered for an A. Still, I love what Billy brings to the table and I don’t want the Royals trade him. He’s one of their only proven hitters in the lineup and provides punch from the right side that nobody else does. It drives me crazy when people bash Billy for what he’s not without recognizing what he is. He’s just a hitter and he’s fantastic at it.

So those are the grades for the bats. Tune in tomorrow to see the the pitching grades. If you have a weak stomach, you don’t have to read tomorrow.

 

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  1. Lance
    June 30, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Alcides should get an A!

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