FanPost

Kila Fever! (and fun with comps)

In recent weeks, the season has gone from disappointing to ugly.  Thankfully with September call-ups, we now have something to be excited about.  Welcome to the Kansas City Royals, Micah Kila Kaaihue (or Ka’aihue, depending on the source).  It’s good to really have something to look forward to when watching Royals games as they play out the string.  Part of me wants Kila to not get overexposed in September.  Part of me wants him to play everyday.  God only knows what Trey Hillman is thinking (at any time, about anything).

In 2001, Royals Scouting Director Deric Ladnier was on a scouting trip in Hawaii to watch Bronson Sardinha and Brandon League.  While he was there, he saw Kaaihue.  Sardinha and League went in the first two rounds of the draft that year and the Royals took Kila in the 15th round in 2002.  Kila comes from a baseball background, as his father Kala was a career minor league catcher (his nickname was "Krash" Kaaihue) and his brother, also named Kala, is a catcher in the Braves system (bloodlines!).

Kaaihue_medium 

The brothers Kaaihue

I think we’re all familiar with Kila’s story.  Through most of his minor league career, he had pretty good plate discipline and some raw power, but for the most part, it didn’t give rise to very impressive stats (another toolsy prospect).  And then, this year at age 24, he absolutely exploded.

Kila2_medium

 The secret must be that he got mean this year.

 

Age

Level

OPS

18

Rookie

0.762

19

A

0.738

20

A

0.792

21

A+

0.928

22

AA

0.608

23

A+

0.780

 

AA

0.806

24

AA

1.086

 

AAA

1.079

 

I was curious if there were any other players who had comparable minor league track records who came to the majors and succeeded to some degree.  So, I spent far too much time looking through baseball-reference.com and thebaseballcube.com, looking at a bunch of first basemen to see what kind of comps I could find.  This was not an exhaustive study of every MLB first basemen, but I did cover a lot of ground.

 

In short, my comp criteria were:

 

1.      Came to the majors as a first baseman.

2.      Didn’t make his major league debut until his age 24 season at the earliest.

3.      Had a somewhat spotty, somewhat inconsistent minor league track record.

4.      Followed a minor league career path (age, level and stats) roughly similar to Kila.

 

There were no perfect comps.  I couldn’t find any first baseman who had stats quite as poor as Kila who suddenly blossomed at age 24.  There might be one, but I didn’t run into him.  But I did find some interesting, rough comps.

 

Steve Balboni

 

Age

Level

OPS

21

A+

0.541

22

A+

0.798

23

AA

0.952

24

AAA

0.869

 

MLB debut: 24

# of MLB seasons: 11

Peak season OPS+: 123

Career OPS+: 101

 

Jeff King

 

Age

Level

OPS

21

A+

0.753

22

A+

0.961

 

AA

0.629

23

AA

0.739

24

AAA

0.713

 

MLB debut: 24

# of MLB seasons: 11

Peak season OPS+: 116

Career OPS+: 99

 

J.T. Snow

 

Age

Level

OPS

21

A-

0.819

22

A+

0.672

23

AA

0.806

24

AAA

0.869

 

MLB debut: 24

# of MLB seasons: 15

Peak season OPS+: 146

Career OPS+: 105

 

Ryan Howard

 

Age

Level

OPS

21

A-

0.838

22

A

0.825

23

A+

0.883

24

AA

1.021

 

AAA

0.956

 

MLB debut: 24

# of MLB seasons: 5 (active)

Peak season OPS+: 167

Career OPS+: 139

 

Jason Giambi

 

Age

Level

OPS

22

A+

0.906

23

AA

0.682

 

AAA

0.888

24

AAA

0.978

 

MLB debut: 24

# of MLB seasons: 14 (active)

Peak season OPS+: 198

Career OPS+: 146

 

One thing you’ll notice is that all of these comps started their professional careers at age 21 or later because they were all college draftees, whereas Kaaihue was drafted out of high school.  So Kila got some of his rough, early developing years out of the way in the low minors, while these other players did it in college.  But if you’ll compare Kila’s numbers from age 21 on to the other players, you’ll see something roughly similar.  Some ups, some downs and for most of them a late peak.

 

What does all of this mean?  That’s hard to say.  Certainly there is more precedent for a player of his pedigree to succeed in the majors than someone like Mike Aviles.  And the above list is pretty damn good.  All but one of those comps received MVP votes at some point in his career and two won MVP awards.  Let’s hope Kila can match at least one of those comps.  Pomaika’i, Kila.

 

 

 

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Royals Review

You must be a member of Royals Review to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Royals Review. You should read them.

Join Royals Review

You must be a member of Royals Review to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Royals Review. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker