Are the Royals All-Star candidates worthy?

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Today, Eric Hosmer moved into a first-place lead in the American League All-Star balloting, 50,000 votes ahead of second place Yonder Alonso and joining teammate Salvador Perez as those positioned to be voted into the 2017 All-Star Game.

While it is certainly safe to say that All-Star and deserving is always a subjective thing, without looking into any stats, I think a case can be made for five position players. Let’s take a look if that is a credible claim.

Salvador Perez

Perez is the only “qualified” catcher in the American League (to be qualified, a player must average 3.1 plate appearances a game). That said, one can still be qualified and suck. That is not the case for Perez, who is having the best offensive season in his career.

His ranks:

  • 1st in HR (14), Runs (29); tied, RBI (38)
  • 3rd in SLUG (.521)
  • 4th in WAR (1.4), OPS (.839)
  • 5th in AVG (.286)
  • 13th in OBP (.317)
  • Defensively: 4th (3.8)

Perez will get voted in as the catcher, again. And, his numbers back it up.

1B Eric Hosmer

Hosmer could be on his way to the All-Star Game again, do defend his 2016 MVP crown.

His stats, are so-so, when compared to his positional peers.

His ranks (out of 13 qualified):

  • 1st in AVG (.308 – 8th in AL), SB (3)
  • 3rd: OBP (.366),
  • 5th: SLUG (.568)
  • 7th: runs (37), WAR (0.7)
  • 9th: HR (8), RBI (30)

Defensive metrics have never seemed to appreciate him, where he ranks fifth. All in all, a case can be made for Hosmer as an All-Star, but his offensive numbers when compared to his peers, aren’t great in the power department(s) – especially at an offensive-dependent position such as 1B. Alsonso (.301/.395/.622/1.017,17 HR, 37 RBI, 37 R, 2.2 WAR) and Justin Smoak (.300/.361/.600/.961, 20 HR, 46 RBI, 40 R, 1.8 WAR) are having better years. But, I think it’s fair to rank Hosmer as the next best. That put’s him as a borderline All-Star – which will be a moot point if he gets voted in.

2B Whit Merrifield

This seems like a stretch here, but he is having a good season – not bad for a guy that started the season in AAA. Due to his late start of the season, he is not yet, “qualified,” but if he were, his ranks:

  • 4th: AVG (.292)
  • 6th: SLUG (.456)
  • 7th: OPS (.790)
  • 8th: RBI (25), WAR (1.1)
  • 9th: HR (6)
  • 11th: OBP (.333)
  • 12th: Runs (24)

While having a good season, he’s nowhere close to the production of Jose Altuve (.326/.397/.526, 10 HR, 34 RBI, 46 R, 12 SB), Starlin Castro (.324/.361/.511, 12 HR, 43 RBI, 50 R, 1 SB), Jed Lowrie (.287/.358/.484, 8 HR, 25 RBI, 43 R), Robinson Cano (.286/.344/.465, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 35 R, 1 SB), Jonathan Schoop (.286/.339/.527, 13 HR, 41 RBI, 39 R) and is on par with Brian Dozier, Ian Kinsler, and others as the next-tier of 2B.

3B Mike Moustakas

Moose has abandoned his approach that led to his 2015 breakout season, resorting back to his dead pull ways, and he has a career-low BB/K rate, but, he’s having a breakout season in the power department, and it’s coming at the right time for him, in the midst of a contract year.

His ranks (out of 13):

  • 1st: HR (18) – 5th in AL
  • 2nd: RBI (45) – 9th in AL
  • 3rd: SLUG (.544) – 10th in AL, OPS (.859), WAR (1.5)
  • 4th: AVG (.276)
  • 5th: Runs (34)
  • 8th: OBP (.315)

Not even in the Top 5 in the voting, Moustakas chances at a second All-Star Game hinge on being selected as a reserve. If he makes it, he is deserving, as he is a Top 3 third baseman. I think Jose Ramirez (.318/.371/.561, 11 HR, 34 RBI, 44 R, 7 SB) should be the starter and Miguel Sano (.286/.384/.559, 16 HR, 48 RBI, 41 R) is also having a great season, and could be his team’s lone representative, making him an easy choice – although it could be Ervin Santana (8-4, 2.56 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 CG).

CF Lorenzo Cain

As May came to an end, Cain was having a lackluster season with numbers (.257/.346/.358, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 19 R, 12 SB) that didn’t meet most other 3-hitters in the league. But, thanks to a MONSTER June (.373/.417/.776 – yes a .1.193 OPS, 8 HR, 17 RBI, 19 R, 2 SB) – where he ranks in the top 12 in the AL in each category other than SB (has doubled his season total in runs in 17 games – he all of a sudden is one of the best offensive players on the team. But, does he have an All-Star resume?

His ranks (out of 31):

  • 1st: SB (14) – 4th in AL
  • 6th: AVG (.287), WAR (2.5)
  • 8th: OBP (.364)
  • 9th: OPS: (.832)
  • 11th: SLUG (.469), HR (10)
  • 15th: Runs (38)
  • 22nd: RBI (27)

Cain is in the top third of AL outfielders, and while I don’t see it happening, Cain would be worthy of an All-Star nomination, if he made it. With at least six outfielders selected, Cain is probably on the outside looking in.

Let’s not forget about pitching, where Jason Vargas is the Royals lone candidate, where he is 10-3 (AL leader in wins), with a 2.27 ERA (2nd), 1.13 WHIP (8th) and also ranks eighth in IP (87.1) and fourth in win percentage (.769).

Not only is he an easy choice, he COULD be the All-Star Game starter.

Excluding Merrifield, the Royals have four legit position player candidates (not five), but only two will for sure make it – the ones who will get voted in – as well as Vargas. Here’s to hoping Moose makes it.

***

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Author: Brian Graham

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