Looking Back at Royals PredictionsFollow @RoyalsBlue_com
A look back into some of my predictions before the 2014 season, and some break down of how I fared in those predictions. It is interesting to go back in time, and attempt to put yourself in that mindset after you have seen what the outcome is. Hind sight is always 20/20
I think Billy Butler will bounce back
Billy Butler has gotten his share of criticism for a lot of things over the years, and most of it rightfully so. He clogs the bases (understatement), and plays defense like a fence post with a glove nailed to it. The one thing, however, that was never in question was his ability to hit. He has always been able to hit, and hit well. He doesn’t hit home runs as frequently as many would like to see, but between 2009 and 2012, he never posted an OPS+ under 125. Last year, however, was a down year. He lost all of the power he seemed to have gained in his 2012 campaign that saw him slug 29 home runs and also didn’t trade them back in for the doubles that had been his MO in the years prior. He did still manage to get on base at a .374 clip however. This was the second highest on base percentage of his career, which gives me hope that he still knows where the strike zone is. If Billy can come into spring training in shape, the new and improved lineup around him should help quite a bit, and 2013 will be nothing more than a blip. It should be pointed out, however, that even during his “bad” year, he still finished as the second best overall offensive player the Royals had behind Eric Hosmer. This is more of an indication of how much other players struggled than how well Butler hit, but still, it is worth mentioning. Recently, the Royals have been linked to Kendrys Morales, who most certainly would have to fill the role of DH if signed. This is a very interesting rumor in that comparing numbers between the two, Morales has really only had 1 year in which he was substantially better than Butler over the last 7, and that was last year. Not to mention the fact that Butler is two years younger, and signing Morales would mean giving up our first round draft pick since he declined a qualifying offer. It would seem to be a fairly obvious mistake to sign Morales, unless there is a willing suitor in a substantial trade for Butler that would go a long ways into filling another hole in the team, for example starting pitching. I don’t think this is a rumor that has anything to it, but you never know.
I will say I was wrong on this one. Billy finished with a final line of .271/.323/.379. Good for an OPS+ of 95, which is 20 points lower than even his 2013 OPS+ of 116. Billy had a bad year at the plate for a DH, but showed some signs of life late in the year when filling in for Eric Hosmer at 1b. He seemed to thrive when given the ability to help his club both on the field and at the plate. It seems almost a forgone conclusion that the Royals front office will decline Billy’s option at the end of the year and exercise their right to a $1 million buyout. This may very well be the last season for Billy to wear Royals Blue.
I think Alcides Escobar might be replaced before the years end
I like Alcides Escobar. He is a player who flashes a well above average glove, even qualifying as a finalist for a Gold Glove, and showed good judgment on the base paths this year going a perfect 22/22 in stolen bases. Since 2009, however, he has had but one season that was close to average offensively, and that was in 2012 under the tutelage of Kevin Seitzer. With a line of 293/331/390, he gave hope to many that he might actually be starting to turn a corner, even though a large percentage of this improved line was because the balls he did put the bat on managed to score a base hit at a MUCH higher rate than his career numbers. I think allot of this may have been due to his ability to get on base with the bunt. He was oft criticized for the number of times he bunted with runners on first in early innings in 2012, and I’m not saying that criticism isn’t valid, but he did seem to enjoy some success from this offensive strategy. No matter how you look at it though, his 2013 was abysmal. With a line of 234/259/300, he put up numbers that would make most pitchers viable pinch hit candidates. Compound this with the fact that Ned Yost felt offensive numbers like these deserved to be placed second in the batting order for many games, and he became an automatic out at the top of our lineup. From the eye test alone, Escobar has seemed like the kind of player that is a decent approach away from being a viable hitter. I don’t expect him to be Robinson Cano, but with his ability to make contact paired with his above average speed, it wouldn’t be too much to expect him to bat for average and hit a few doubles along the way. He has seemed, however, to take each approach at the plate as though he is a power hitter waiting to break out. With a career total of 18 homeruns, he will never be mistaken for a power hitter, but I’m not sure anyone on the coaching staff has managed to get this through to him yet. Entering what will be his fifth full season, it would seem that regression, and extreme regression is not the arc you hope to see. I hope that if he continues down the same path in 2014, the Royals have an option to replace him with, be it Bonofacio or Christian Colon and even possibly Pedro Ciriaco as a band aid solution.
WAAAAY off on this one. Not only did Alcides bounce back at the plate, he did so by flashing arguably some of the best leather of his career. He finished with a final batting line of .285/.317/.377 and an OPS+ of 92. These numbers may not jump out of the page, but for a player at a premium defensive position playing with premium defensive abilities, that is more than acceptable. With an incredibly team friendly contract and another good season at the plate, Escobar has sealed his role going forward. Happy to have been so very very wrong.
I think the defense can be close to as good as they were last year
I have caught some flak for this assessment on twitter, but I do believe that with our additions, we stand a reasonable chance of putting up a defensive season on par with 2013. While I do expect regression from some players, I think that with Aoki in right and Bonofacio replacing Tejada as the utility infielder, we have improved a few positions in a way that will hopefully offset the regression from others. I also don’t feel it’s out of the question that others like Hosmer and Moose get a little better. Omar Infante will hopefully be as productive defensively as Chris Getz was, but I don’t expect much of an improvement at the 2 bag defensively. I could be totally off base with this, and wouldn’t be surprised if I was wrong, and much of that is going to hinge on the ability for players to stay healthy too. If Lorenzo Cain goes on an extended stint on the DL, then all bets are off.
A lot was made by many other analysts over the fact they felt that the defense would have a regression from 2013. I have never been a fan of defensive metrics, as I feel they cannot properly convey subjective material, however they are the only thing short of ESPN Web Gems I can display here. According to Fangraphs, in 2013, the Royals came in first with 87.6 defensive runs saved and a UZR of 79.9. In 2014 those numbers were down slightly, with 74.8 defensive runs saved and a UZR of 61.1. These both represent a slight decrease from last year, but the Royals still ranked first in the league in both categories by a wide margin. Bottom line…this was still an elite defense.
I think one of Duffy/Ventura will have a huge positive impact
These two guys have too much potential for ONE of them to not pitch well this year. So often in the past, the Royals have gotten hung with the requirement that ALL of the pieces perform above expectation to have any hope of a decent year. I don’t think we need ALL of the players to do that this year, but one of these two must. Not both…just one. And I think one of them will, most likely Ventura for this season.
Half right? The part I got wrong was, we DID need both to step up and perform well. Without either one of Ventura or Duffy, the Royals would have certainly been on the outside looking in. They both provided superb value this year with Ventura finishing with 183 innings pitched and a 3.20 ERA. Danny Duffy threw 149.1 innings and recorded a 2.53 ERA. Both have shown they can be important pieces in a rotation going forward, and have all but locked up a couple front of the rotation spots for 2015.
I think the Royals win 90 games
Will this be enough for a wild card? I would like to think so….but we have to get there first.
Missed it by THAT much. Finishing with 89 wins, the Royals did make the wild card.
Wow. What a game, huh? I am really at a loss for words right now. No matter what happens in the ALDS, nobody can say anything bad about this team. They fought their hearts out to be where they’re at, and they deserve it. I ... Read more