At the beginning of the offseason, I began work on a spreadsheet detailing the Royals offensive statistics by batting order position. I used baseball-reference to create a spreadsheet which covers the last 10 years for the Royals as well as what the numbers would look like based on CHONE projections for the anticipated starters.
What initially drove this analysis was the seemingly widespread belief that Jose Guillen was good due to his RBIzzzz (which has since been pretty well debunked). It evolved into a general look at how 2009's lineup compares to the past 10 years.
The spreadsheet is fairly simplistic -- it shows the batting average, on base percentage, SLG, OPS, and RBI by each lineup spot. It doesn't use any advanced metrics, but it does give a simplistic look at the past 10 years. I color coded certain fields -- any OBPs that were .350 or greater were marked in blue, as well as any SLG's greater than .500. Any OBPs less than .300 were marked in pink (because red didn't show the numbers as well). Any OPSs .800 or greater were marked in green. It also shows the average number of runs scored in the AL in each year, and how the Royals performed relative to the mean.
(Note: if someone know how to include a picture of the spreadsheet here, please let me know).
My conclusions based on the numbers:
- > 3 High OPSs = Lots of runs
- > 3 Low OBPs = TEH SUCK
- 2003 had a very good, well-rounded offense. Lots of OBP and above average OPSes throughout the lineup.
- Generally the 4 spot had the most RBIs, but the 3, 5, and 6 spots weren't too far behind. 2008 broke that trend, as the 4 spot picked up most of the RBI. The effect of this was two-fold: It made JoGui look good with those 97 RBI. It made the 3*, 5-6 batters look worse, as opportunities that were normally there weren't there this year. The 5 and 6 spots were also hampered by the fact that the #4 hitter was rarely on base. While JoGui (who will probably be entrenched in the 4 spot) may get more total RBI this season, I expect the RBI to be distributed more normally around the 3, 4, 5, and 6 spots as DeJesus will likely pick up some of the RBI that were left on the table by Gordon/Teahen in the 3 spot last year. In addition, Jacobs will probably be hard pressed to repeat his 100+ RBI performance from the 5 spot -- DeJesus and Guillen will knock in the RBI, but Guillen still won't be on base much for Jacobs to hit in.
* Well, the 3 spot was genuinely bad in 2008, although with the high OBPs of the 1 and 2 spots, I would've expected more RBI.
- WTF was going on in 2002? The lead off spot was awful, but Febles was putting up a .336 OBP in the 9 spot. Switch that around, and the team would've performed better.
- As for 2009, I put in the anticipated starters into the projected lineup. I used CHONE projections for each batter. I would consider this on the high end of what one would expect for performance out of the batting order due to injuries and the resulting stats of MITCH, Bloomquist, and TPJ. Based on that, the Royals look to have a slightly below average offense. Not well-below average, or worst in the league offense, but a below average offense. There aren't any outstanding All-Star quality bats in the current lineup, however sinkhole, sub-.680 OPSs were likely removed as well (except for the C spot).
Conclusion: The bright side is that that the offense looks to be moving closer to league average. If Aviles' 2008 wasn't a mirage and/or Gordon has a breakout season the Royals would likely be at a league average offense. Add in the good pitching and they've got the makings of their best team in the past 10 years.