Grading The Royals - Outfielders

Not often you get this much awfulness in one photo. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

We return to class with a new focus - this time on the outfielders.

A strength on the team in 2011, both offensively and defensively, this year's crew hasn't lived up to the lofty bar set previously. Granted, it was a large challenge. Injuries, regression and in the case of right field - intangibles - have conspired to hold this group back.

In case you missed our previous report cards, check out the catchers and infielders.

Onward...

Alex Gordon
.274/.365/.413, OPS+ 114

Like Eric Hosmer, Gordon was slow to start the season. He didn't collect his first hit until plate appearance number 21, he was hitting just .167/.276/.288 on April 24. That stretch covered his first 76 plate appearances. Nasty. He warmed up a bit, but slumped again. It looked like a long season of regression was being served by the left fielder.

Thankfully, Ned Yost decided to bump Gordon back to the leadoff spot. Since moving exclusively to leadoff on May 27, A1 has hit .335/.419/.478. I know where a player hits in the batting order isn't supposed to matter, but in this case, I have to believe that it does. Gordon himself has said he approaches plate appearances differently when he's hitting at the top of the order. Good enough for me.

While it took some time for his hitting to get on track, he's continued to shine defensively. He's at 13 runs saved according to the Fielding Bible, tops among left fielders. He's prevented a runner taking the extra base roughly 30 percent of the time and has five kills and six assists.

Good to see A1 coming back.

Grade: B

Jarrod Dyson
.245/.304/.303, OPS+ 69

I can’t help it… When I see Dyson, I see the ghost of Joey Gathright. Or Ryan Freel… Or any other speedy, no-hit outfielder Dayton Moore has certainly coveted.

Dyson has been a better defender than he’s shown in Kansas City this year. hH’s not getting good reads on the ball in the outfield and it’s led to some adventures in center. No idea what his issue is out there. At least his speed covers some of his mistakes.

Does his speed have a place on the Royals? Sure. The game does change when he’s on base. But he doesn’t have a place in the everyday lineup. He’s the 25th man. A luxury speed guy on a contender.

Grade: D+

Jeff Francoeur
.251/.289/.378, OPS+ 82

The Frenchman is a great guy. Bad ball player. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and do something unpleasant to guys who eat bacon and throw moneyballs to the fans. He's been awful at the plate and in the field this season. The complete package. Defensively, he's at -13 runs. Among the worst in right field. His awesome arm is worth something sure, but can it compensate for the lack of range?

Hitting fifth in the order in Yosty's lineup most of the season, he's brought home just 10 percent of all base runners. Ack. League average is 15 percent.

Oh, yeah… He’s killing the Royals on the bases. Four caught stealings in five attempts. And six other base running outs trying to take the extra base. Brutal.

Poor performance is one thing. He’s signed for another season. That makes him difficult to move. Because what GM in his right mind would take on Francoeur for $12 million?

Oh… Right.

Grade as a ballplayer: F

Grade as a person: A

Billy Butler
.290/.361/.487, OPS+ 151

The gripe against Butler has been he hasn’t realized his power potential. Nevermind he’s just now 26, he should have silenced his critics with 16 home runs and a career best 5.8 AB/HR ratio.

The best hitter on the team. That’s what he does. Embrace it.

Grade: A

Lorenzo Cain
.133/.176/.133, OPS+ -13

I can’t wait for a ball to be hit to Cain, have him reach up, catch it… And shatter into a million pieces.

His injuries have held him back. And probably the Royals. With the Immovable Frenchman in right, Cain's timetable to impress is short with Wil Myers nipping at his heels.

Grade: Incomplete

Mitch Maier
.172/.260/.313, OPS+ 57

I miss MITCH.

Grade: C-

Jason Bourgeois
.333/.389/.455, OPS+ 132

You can't say Yosty hasn't put him in a position to succeed. Just four at bats against right handed pitching against 32 plate appearances against southpaws. It's a good bat to have off the bench, and he can run a bit. I think I'd take him over Dyson. But to have both on the team doesn't make much sense.

Grade: C

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