Part of a much longer blog entry, but earlier in the post, JoePo outlines his theory of how many Championship Caliber Guys (Players who have more than 12 Win Shares) it takes to win a pennant. This probably shouldn't be taken too seriously, but I thought it might be interesting discussion fodder nonetheless. Below is an excerpt from the section where he looks at the Royals' CCGs.
Conclusion 3. You really want four All-Star type players.
The Royals can at least give people something to think about here. They did not have a single player with more than 16 Win Shares last year but ... I think Gil Meche can move into the 20+ realm this year. I had another scout email me the other day to predict that Meche will break through: "I saw him two or three times last year, and twice he was about as good as anybody I saw all year. ... He had the best curve I saw all year. ... He's always had great stuff but I think he's figuring it out."
Gordon certainly has the talent to step into that All-Star level.
Billy Butler ... everyone here knows how much I love Billy Butler's bat. The guy can swing the bat.
Jose Guillen had 20 Win Shares last year, so he could repeat or do a little better.
And then ... Mark Teahen could certainly step into that 20+ Win Shares category... David DeJesus could do it ... I still love Zack Greinke's talent ... Brian Bannister is my favorite player in the game right now, and he had 13 win shares as a rookie ... Joakim Soria has the look of lockdown closer ... Luke Hochevar is impressing more and more people at camp.
So, wit a little imagination, you might find what Lou Brown called "three or four potential All-Stars" in there. Trouble is, none of them have actually done it yet.
Conclusion 4. You could really use 10 or 11 Championship Caliber Guys.
This is where Royals fans can really begin to hope, I think. The Royals only had six CCGs last year -- DeJesus, Teahen, Meche, Gordon, Bannister, Mark Grudzielanek. But Bill James has been saying this during the off-season -- and of course, I agree -- that for the first time in a while it looks like the Royals are BEGINNING to get to that critical mass of good players that you need to win.
I mentioned 10 players in the section above, all with, I think, the potential to be pretty good players. That's a much higher number than years' past. Mark Grudzielanek had 12 Win Shares last year, so he's an aging CCG. That's 11 potential CCGs. Tony Pena won't hit much, but his glove is good enough to possibly move him up into the CCG category. That would be 12.
The problem is the Royals right now have no margin for error, then really need 11 out of 12 guys to have good years, and it never works out that way (except for the 1991 Minnesota Twins). Someone gets hurt, a couple of guys have bad years, someone doesn't develop like you expected, someone else has a crisis of confidence ... you're never going 11 for 12 in baseball.
Still, this is why there's some hope in Kansas City -- you can at least see where the Royals are going, and how they're trying to get there. The plan is to keep adding CCGs to the team and keep developing them in the farm system. And it's a good plan.