Cleat Geeks

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals had their worst week of the season losing all five of their games. They started the home stand against the Cincinnati Reds. On Tuesday the Royals were leading 1-0 until the 9th inning but lost in extra innings. Their weekend series was against the Houston Astros. The Royals pitching staff struggled in the series giving up an average of eight runs per game. The Royals are on a six-game losing streak and have lost 12 of their last 13 games. They have a record of 22-49, which is the second worst record in baseball.

The Royals are starting to fall into a distant fifth in the American League Central. The Chicago White Sox are now two and a half games ahead of the Royals in fourth place. The top three spots in the division are the Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins. Only five games separate the first and third place teams. The Royals are 15.5 games behind the division leading Indians.

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Jorge Soler suffered a fractured foot and is expected to miss at least six weeks. Soler missed time earlier this month with a foot injury and it appears he re-aggravated the injury last week. Soler was having a breakout year with the Royals this season. He had a .265 batting average and nine home runs. He established himself as a consistent corner outfielder for the team. During his absence Jorge Bonifacio could see a lot of playing time. He will be eligible to return on June 27th from his 80-game PED suspension. Last season Bonifacio saw a lot of playing time and had a .255 batting average and 17 home runs. Bonifacio should be a reliable substitute for Soler while he is injured.

The Royals 2018 first round draft pick Brady Singer was named the Dick Howser Trophy winner. The award is given to the national college player of the year. Singer is a right-handed pitcher the Royals selected 18th overall. Notable pitchers who have won the award in the past are David Price and Stephen Strasburg. Alex Gordon won the award in 2005. This season Singer has a 2.30 ERA. Last season he was a big part of the Florida Gators National Championship run. Brady Singer should be one of the Royals top prospects and could move through their minor league system quickly.

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Next week the Royals will face two American League West opponents. They start at home against the Texas Rangers. The Royals are 2-2 against the Rangers this season.Hunter Dozier will be a player to watch in the series. He has a .375 batting average against the Rangers this season. The weekend series will be on the road against the Houston Astros. The Royals were swept by the Astros this last weekend. Alex Bregman will be a player to watch in the series. He had a .375 batting average against the Royals including two home runs. Next week will be another tough test for the Royals.

AL All-Star Position Preview: Catcher

Baseball fans around the world have been waiting for this day, All-Star weekend. You get to see your favorite players compete against one another in a weekend filled with pageantry and excitement. The MLB allows fans to vote for the players they believe most deserving (sometimes giving popularity more value than in-season accomplishment) and when the voting is finished those players get chosen to compete.

Here at Cleat Geeks, however, there is no voting. I will be telling you who deserves to be in the All-Star game in a series of articles, looking at each position in the AL individually. I will list and discuss who deserves to be a starter, then give you two bench spots. This first article will be a dive into the top 3 catchers most deserving of All-Star honors. With that being said, let’s get to the catchers!

Current Fan Vote Results:

Gary Sanchez

Wilson Ramos

Brian McCann

Salvador Perez

Martin Maldonado

Starter: Wilson Ramos

Although the fans have Gary Sanchez slightly edging out Ramos in voting, I would take Ramos. With the most at-bats of the three (206), the highest batting average (.282), and highest OPS (.766) it was an easy decision to place him atop this list. Being on the Rays makes it difficult for him to edge out Sanchez (again, popularity contest) but Ramos should be the clear starter. Despite catching a multitude of pitchers while the Rays try a new rotation strategy, Ramos maintains a decent WAR (wins above replacement) of .9, falling in second on this list. Wilson is having a great season and is one of the main reasons why the Rays have managed to stay afloat this season, despite a very tough AL East.

Bench Spot 1: Salvador Perez:

Sorry Sal, you will most likely not extend your All-Star Game streak to five. The two other guys on this list are currently running away with the voting and unless Sal starts raking these next couple of weeks, he will, unfortunately, fall short of the All-Star Game. Posting an impressive 1.0 WAR, tying Ramos in RBIs (32), and a slash line of .230/.281/.449 would have earned him a trip to the All-Star Game in years past, but the young slugger Gary Sanchez has stolen fans hearts. The veteran catcher also suffers from being on an AL Central-worst Kansas City Royals team, which means fewer eyes are focused on him. Accompany that with the fact that he has about 20 less at bats than Sanchez and Ramos, and it is tough to make a case for him in the fans eyes. My eyes are not the fans eyes and I believe Sal deserves to be second in the voting.

Bench Spot 2: Gary Sanchez

Sanchez has had an extremely disappointing season thus far. He is currently having his worst season in BA, OBP, OPS, SLG, and WAR. He has fewer hits than both guys on this list. Yet what makes Sanchez so special is that he still leads both guys in both HR and RBI. He would fall further if there were more players who could even come close to his Abs, so his plate appearances certainly boost him up my list. I do not expect Gary to continue this poor streak, and the All-Star break will give him a much-needed break from the day-to-day grind of being the catcher for the New York Yankees. If you compare his stats to his almost Rookie of the Year winning 2016 season, he has 22 fewer hits but has only 7 fewer RBIs and 8 less HR’s. I fully expect a second-half resurgence.

Catcher may be a shallow competition in terms of All-Star voting, the other positions will have considerably more discrepancies *cough* outfield *cough*. Continue reading to find out who deserves to be a part of All-Star Weekend!

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals did not play well last week. They lost six of their seven games including a sweep against the Los Angeles Angels. The offense was a big reason for their struggles. They averaged less than three runs per game. The Royals currently have a record of 22-44. It is the second worst record in the American League and in the MLB.

The Cleveland Indians continue to lead the American League Central with a record of 34-29, 13.5 games ahead of the Royals. The Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox make up the middle of the division. The White Sox moved ahead of the Royals in the standings this week. The Royals are in last place in the division and have already made moves to be sellers this season.

The Royals traded outfielder Jon Jay to the Arizona Diamondbacks this week. They received minor league pitching prospects Elvis Luciano and Gabe Speier. The Royals will lose a reliable left-handed leadoff batter in the lineup but get some valuable prospects. Luciano is only 18 years old and has only played at the rookie level. He will start his Royals career with the Burlington Royals when the season starts later this month. Speier is a 23-year old prospect that was a 19th round draft pick by the Boston Red Sox in 2013. He has been in AA since the 2016 season. Last season with the AA Jackson Generals he had a 4.30 ERA and a record of 2-6. Speier will start his career with the Royals in Northwest Arkansas with the Naturals. The Royals were able to get decent return on Jon Jay’s 1-year contract in the trade.

Alex Gordon continues to play well this season after struggling last year. He has a batting average of .269 and five home runs in 51 games. Last season he had an average of .208 and nine home runs. He had a big home run on Saturday in the Royals 2-0 win over the Oakland A’s. Gordon has been an improvement to an offense that has struggled this season.

 

The Royals will play five games at home this week. They start against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday. The Reds fired their manager in April after a poor start to the season. The Reds are 23-43 this season and in last place in the National League Central. Scooter Gennett has played well for the Reds this season. He has a .340 batting average and 12 home runs. The Royals weekend series will be against the World Series Champion Houston Astros. Last season the Royals were 4-3 against the Astros. The Royals are scheduled to face Astros pitcher Charlie Morton on Friday. Morton has been one of the best pitchers in the American League this season. He has a 2.82 ERA and a record of 7-1. The Royals will have a short week against two teams that could be a test for them.

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals had mixed results last week winning three of their six games. They started the home stand against the Minnesota Twins. The Royals won the series and averaged six runs per game. Their weekend series was against the Oakland Athletics. The Royals struggled and lost the series. Their worst loss was 16-0 on Friday. The Royals currently have a record of 21-38.

The American League Central standings have stayed steady the last few weeks. The Cleveland Indians still have a big lead in the division. The Royals and Chicago White Sox are still at the bottom of the division. The Royals have a two game lead over the White Sox for fourth place. The AL Central is starting to separate at this point in the season.

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Jorge Soler has improved this season and has become a big part of the offense. This season he has a .273 batting average, nine home runs and three stolen bases so far this year. Soler had an opportunity to establish himself as the Royals right fielder this season because of a suspension of Jorge Bonifacio. Last season Soler struggled because of poor play and injuries. The Royals acquired him in December of 2016 in the Wade Davis trade. Soler is meeting expectations this season and is an important part of the Royals offense.

Whit Merrifield is another player that has made a big impact on the Royals offense this season. Merrifield has a .294 batting average, four home runs and 14 stolen bases. It is the second most stolen bases in the American League this season. He also has a strong OBP at .377, which is in the top 15 in the American League. Merrifield has been one of the most reliable players for the Royals at the plate and on the base paths.

 

Next week the Royals will face two American League West opponents on the road. They start the seven game road trip against the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels are 3-0 against the Royals this season. The Royals are scheduled to face Shohei Ohtani as a pitcher in the series after missing him due to a weather postponement earlier this season. Ohtani has a 3.81 ERA and a 4-1 record this season. The weekend series will be against the A’s.  The Royals just wrapped up a series against the A’s with a record of 1-2. Matt Olson will be a player to watch in the series. He has a .455 batting average and three home runs against the Royals this season. Next week will be a tough test for the Royals, both teams have played well against them this season.

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals improved last week winning four of their seven games. It was only the Royals second week this season with a winning record. They started the week on the road against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Royals won two of the three games in the series. Their weekend series was against the Texas Rangers on the road. The Royals spilt the Series with the Rangers 2-2. The Royals are currently 18-35 this season.

 

The Royals are in fourth place in the American League Central. The Cleveland Indians lead the division, nine games ahead of the Royals. The Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins are tied for second, three and a half games ahead of the Royals. The Chicago White Sox are in last place in the division, half a game behind the Royals. The Cleveland Indians are starting to pull away as the division leader.

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Ramon Torres was called up last week to fill in for Cheslor Cuthbert who was placed on the disabled list with a lower back strain. Torres made his major league debut with the Royals last season. This season he has a .273 batting average in 11 at bats. In his first at bat this season he scored on a single because of an error by Rangers center fielder Delino DeShields. Torres has played well in his fill in role for Cheslor Cuthbert.

 

Kelvin Herrera has been reliable as the Royals closer this season. He has a 0.92 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and 11 saves. It is the sixth most saves in the American League this season. Herrera is in the last year of his contract and could be a trade target for playoff contenders this season. The Royals have not had a lot of save situations but Herrera has played well so far this year.

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The Royals will return home to play two home series. They start the week against the Minnesota Twins. It will be the Royals first series against the Twins this season. Last season the Royals were 8-11 against the Twins. Danny Duffy will be a player to watch in the series. Last season he had a 1.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in one start against the Twins. He is scheduled to start on Tuesday. The weekend series will be against the Oakland Athletics. Last season the Royals were 3-3 against the A’s. Alcides Escobar will be a player to watch in the series. Last season he had a .391 batting average against the A’s. Next week the Royals will have two matchups against American League opponents.

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals struggled only winning one of their six games last week. They started at home against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Royals were swept in the three game series, only averaging three runs per game. The weekend series was at home against the New York Yankees. The Royals won the first game but lost the final two, including a 10-1 defeat on Sunday.

 

The Royals are currently 14-32 this season. They are in last place in the American League Central. The Cleveland Indians lead the division. The Chicago White Sox are just ahead of the Royals. They are 0.5 games ahead in the standings. The Royals are tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the worst record in baseball.

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Whit Merrifield has been one of the Royals strongest offensive performers. Merrifield has a .292 batting average and four home runs this season. He also has 12 stolen bases, which is the second most in the American League behind Mariners Dee Gordon. Last season Merrifield led the American League in steals. He extended his hit streak last week to 12 games before losing it on Sunday. It was the fifth longest in the MLB and second longest on the team this season. Mike Moustakas had a 14 game streak earlier this season. Merrifield had a breakout season with the Royals last year and continues to play well this season.Image result for hunter dozier royals

Hunter Dozier was called up last week to play first base for the injured Lucas Duda. Dozier made his first start this season on Monday. It was his first major league start since the 2016 season. In six games Dozier has a .250 batting average 1.000 fielding percentage at first base. Dozier initially started his career at third base and in the outfield but played first base in spring training because of the departure of Eric Hosmer. He has played well in his first week at first base in the MLB.

 

The Royals will face two opponents on the road this week. They will start against the Cardinals in St. Louis. Last season the Royals were 0-4 against the Cardinals. Cardinal outfielder Tommy Pham will be a player to watch. This season he has a .312 batting average and eight home runs. Pham has the second highest BABIP in the National League. The Royals weekend series will be against the Texas Rangers. Last season the Royals were 1-6 against the Rangers. Pitcher Bartolo Colon will be a player to watch in the series. This season he has an ERA of 2.82, ninth in the American League this season and a WHIP of 0.84, third in the American League this season. Colon’s most notable match-up with the Royals was in the 2015 World Series when he played with the New York Mets. The Royals will face two teams on the road this week that they struggled against last season.

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals struggled this week losing both of their series. They started the week on the road against the Baltimore Orioles. The Royals won the first game 15-7 but lost the last two games in the series. Their weekend series was on the road against the Cleveland Indians. The Royals started the weekend strong with a 10-9 victory but lost the final two games in the series. The Royals are 13-29 this season and 6-6 in the month of May.

The Royals are in fourth place in the American League Central. The Cleveland Indians lead the division with a record of 20-19, 7.5 games ahead of the Royals. The Chicago White Sox are at the bottom of the division with a record of 10-27, 1.5 games behind the Royals. The division has been tight so far this season but the Cleveland Indians are starting to separate from the other teams.

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Salvador Perez has been strong since returning from his injury late last month. He has a .278 batting average and five home runs in 20 games. Last week he hit three home runs against the Orioles and Indians. Perez missed the beginning of the season due to a tear in his knee. Salvador Perez is a big part of the offense and he has been strong to start the 2018 season.

The Royals have been one of the strongest defensive teams to start the season. They have a team fielding percentage of .987, which is the fourth best in the American League. All of the Royals regular starters have a fielding percentage over .974. Jon Jay and Salvador Perez both have a perfect fielding percentage. The Royals are not only consistent in the field but they also have range. They rank in the top half of the American League in Ultimate Zone Rating. The Royals have struggled to start the season but their defense has been strong.

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The Royals have a six game home stand next week. The first series will be against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Royals were 4-3 against the Rays last season. Whit Merrifield will be a player to watch in the series. Last season he had a .280 batting average and three home runs against the Rays. The Royals weekend series will be against the New York Yankees. Last season the Royals were 2-5 against the Yankees. Rookie Gleyber Torres is off to a hot start with the Yankees. The second baseman has a .319 batting average and three home runs in 20 games. The Royals will have two good tests against American League East opponents this week.

SABERmetrics Sunday: Jorge Finding His Place In The Sun?

It was just after the 2016 season when the Kansas City Royals acquired OF Jorge Soler in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. At the time it seemed like a real good deal for Chicago as they got All Star closer Wade Davis in the deal. While it worked out good for the Cubs as Wade Davis had another All Star season in 2017, the Soler return has looked mighty good for the Royals this season.

Jorge Soler was originally one of the prime building blocks for the rebuild in Chicago. He tore it up in the Cubs farm system and made the majors in 2014. Over the next two seasons, Soler struggled to find consistency at the plate and had a number of nagging injuries. The potential was always there, but not staying on the field and having a crowded roster to begin with hurt his development. Luckily they did win a World Series with him, but that was the end of his tenure in Chicago. He totaled 101 games in 2015 and just 86 in 2016.

Soler’s first year as a Royal in 2017 was very rough. Just 35 games while missing the rest of the season due to injury with one home run, a .245 OBP, .503 OPS and -0.9 fWAR.

This year we are seeing a revitalized Soler who is doing it all offensively. Getting on base, hitting for power and generating runs. Before diving into detailed analysis, here are the key stats for Jorge Soler in 2018 (through 5/11).

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.425 OBP / .525 SLG / .950 OPS / .405 BABIP / 23.6% K / 14.9% BB / 157 wRC+ / 5 HR / -1.8 Ultimate Base Running / 2.3 Ultimate Zone Rating / -3 DRS / 1.4 fWAR 

Looking first and foremost at his batting stats, the numbers are really good. His career-high BB rate previously was 11.7% in 2016 so if he keeps up the higher walk rate around 15% then that will continue to help his OBP. Soler will likely always be in the top-half of strikeouts, which is where he is at currently, so that is no surprise. The one thing to note is the .405 BABIP, that is not insanely high, but still unsustainably high. It will go down as the season goes, however that does not mean he will tank later on. He can keep up some real good numbers throughout the year while the BABIP goes down. If he continues to drive the ball and take more walks like he is now, we could see him make his first All Star team.

Just some notes on his defense. He was never a good defender, with career UZR and DRS numbers well in the negatives, but if he can be serviceable, the Royals will take it and he can DH if need be.

If Soler stays healthy and can maintain most of these numbers, then it can be safe to say he finally reached his potential. He was a top-prospect for a number of years coming up. This year he can play everyday and get more consistent at-bats. Chicago Cubs fans may miss the potential he had especially now, but him changing scenery was probably the best thing for him.

 

 

 

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals improved this week winning four of their seven games. They started the week on the road in Boston against the Red Sox. They lost the series but had a strong offensive performance scoring four or more runs in each of the games. Their weekend series was at home against the Detroit Tigers. They won three of the four games and had their first series win this year. The Royals are currently 11-23 this season.

 

The Royals are in fourth place in the American League Central. The Cleveland Indians lead the division with a record of 17-17, six games ahead of the Royals. The Chicago White Sox are in last place in the division with a record of 9-23. The Royals had a slow start to the season but are still competitive in the division because of the poor performance in the American League Central.

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Photo by; TSN

Jorge Soler has been one of the strongest offensive players for the Royals this season. He has a .308 batting average and a .425 OBP this season. His OBP is the fifth best in the American League this season. He is also tied for fifth in walks this season. Soler is known as a power hitter but his strength this season has been getting on base. If Soler continues to play well this season he could be a key contributor for the team.

 

Alex Gordon has been the most improved player on the Royals so far this season. Last year he struggled with a .208 batting average and nine home runs. This season he has a .288 batting average and two home runs. Gordon has only played in 20 games this season due to injury. He has also been strong defensively with a perfect fielding percentage in left and center field. Gordon has only played in 20 games this season but he has been impressive on offense and defense.

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Photo by; KC Kingdom

The Royals will start the week on the road against the Baltimore Orioles. The Royals were 3-3 against the Orioles last season. The Orioles have struggled this season but Manny Machado has been strong this season. He is in the top five in the American League in batting average, hits, OBP, OPS, and slugging. Last season Machado played well against the Royals with a .320 batting average. The Royals weekend series will be in Cleveland against the Indians. The Royals are 1-2 against the Indians this season. Jorge Soler will be a player to watch in the series against the Indians. This season he has a .429 batting average against Cleveland. This week will be another opportunity for the Royals to get wins against two American League opponents.

Royally Yours: Week in Review

The Kansas City Royals started off the week slow but finished strong. They had a two game series at home against the Milwaukee Brewers to start the week. The Royals struggled offensively only scoring two runs in each of the two games. Their weekend series was at home against the Chicago White Sox. They played five games over the weekend due to a postponement of the April 1st game. The Royals won their last two games to split the series. They still do not have a series win this season.

 

The Royals are in last place in the American League Central with a record of 7-20. The Cleveland Indians lead the division with a record of 14-12, seven and a half games ahead of the Royals. The Detroit Tigers, Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox make up the middle of the division with only three games separating second through fourth place. The American League Central has been one of the worst divisions this season but the Royals have not played well enough to be in contention.

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Photo by; The Sporting News

Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez returned from the disabled list this week. Both players have made an immediate impact in their return. Gordon has a .346 batting average since returning on Tuesday. He has a .265 batting average so far this season, which is an improvement from his .208 batting average last season. Perez has a .267 average since returning from the disabled list. He hit a home run in his second at bat this season. Perez missed the start of the season due to a MCL tear.

 

Mike Moustakas continues to be one of the best hitters in the American League this season. He is in the top 10 in the American League in hits, home runs, and slugging. Moustakas is tied with Jorge Soler for the highest WAR on the team. The Royals offense has struggled this season but Moustakas has continued to play well.

 

The Royals will start the week on the road in a two game series against the Red Sox. The Red Sox have the best record in baseball at 20-7. Salvador Perez will be a player to watch against the Red Sox. Last season he had a .444 batting average and two home runs against the Red Sox. The Royals weekend series will be at home against the Detroit Tigers. The Royals are 3-3 against the Detroit Tigers this season. Whit Merrifield will be a player to watch against the Tigers. This season against the Tigers he has a .296 average and two home runs. The Royals will have another tough week against two American League opponents.

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