How do the teams in the American League Central compare offensively at third base.
Now that things have settled down on the Santana front, it's time to get back to finding where the Royals might attempt to find more offense in 2013. While the starting pitching is getting all the notoriety, the offense quietly sucked in 2012 too. Without the ability to score more runs, this team isn't likely to make great strides next season. In this edition I'll look at the third basemen.
So who played third base for the Royals in 2012?
*sOPS+ is how the player compared offensively to the rest of the American League third basemen. 100 is about average while 90 is about 90% of average.
Mostly Moustakas (which sounds like a song from a broadway musical, maybe one called "The Process"?) is how the season broke down to nobody's surprise. He's a young player and had a good start but he really stumbled late and ended up being a below average offensive third basemen. The rest of the crew were merely used as filler and they did a reasonable job.
Moustakas actually improved in his sophomore season, but only due to an increase in power. Next year will be his age 24 season and so while he's still very young, the team needs him to take another, larger step forward.
While we're only focusing on offense here, it must be said that Moustakas really held his own on the defensive end of the spectrum as in 2012. There have always been rumblings that he would have to possibly play DH in the not to distant future, but for now he's certainly adequate if not a superior defender.
How did the Royals compare to the rest of the division?
The Tigers had a really good third basemen this year, who knew? Moustakas and company put the Royals right in the middle of the pack in 2012. Being in the middle of the pack isn't terrible, every good team will have some average to below average offensive slots.
The real problem is the trend. So far I've looked at catcher, first base, second base and third base and so far within the division the royals have ranked 5th, 4th, 2nd and 3rd respectively. Three of those four positions are typically offensively minded and the Royals haven't had a really solid performer at any. It isn't any shock that they scored the second fewest runs in the division.
So, what should the team do? With this position, not much. Moustakas is certainly going to be given more time to prove he can be an average offensive third basemen. He's a fan favorite, a high draft pick and a solid defender. He isn't the problem, but he has yet to be part of the solution.
I was intrigued last year when the Royals picked up Kevin Kouzmanoff who has an ok bat and plays third base. He might have been helpful as a bench player to pinch hit or spell Moustakas if he really struggled. He was never used and the Royals rolled Mouse out there nearly every day.
The bottom line is that offense must improve at the corners and the only way it will happen in 2013 is with young players taking the next step forward. It would obviously be silly at this point to spend precious resources on replacing Moustakas, so let's all burn our effigies to the baseball gods and hope that they bless young Mouse with an improvement.