FanPost

ZIPS 2012 and 2013: What to expect of the Royals?

Pitchers and catchers reporting means I am really wanting baseball season to start, so I pulled up the 2012 ZIPS projections and compared them to actual performance and the coming year projection for the Royals we expect to be starting. This will help me set my expectations for the season, so that the Royals know exactly what they have to do to once again disappoint. One of these years…

Hitters

Sal Perez:

2012 ZIPS

2012 Actual

2013 ZIPS

.274/.303/.393

.301/.328/.471

.286/.316/.422

Salvador outperformed any expectations last year, except for maybe his mother’s, but he did it without a full season of plate appearances. The new projection looks like they do not believe in his power, but that they are starting to believe in the average some. No matter what the projection looks like, Perez being healthy and in the line-up for the entire season will be a big plus over the sub-par production from catcher for the Royals in the first half of last season.

Eric Hosmer:

2012 ZIPS

2012 Actual

2013 ZIPS

.304/.354/.474

.232/.304/.359

.273/.336/.435

One of the most disappointing players in baseball last year, Eric Hosmer was way, way, way below what was expected. ZIPS projections for 2013 are not optimistic that he turns back into the budding star that everyone expected either. He will almost certainly be better than last year, but expectations are starting to look like mediocrity rather than stardom. The most frightening thing to me is that his worst month last year was September. Yeah, you read that right, even after that atrocious start to the season he still had a worse finish. Consider me worried. Beautiful swings only work if they actually hit the baseball. I expect him to be better, and therefore a plus from last season to 2013, but being a Royals fan has ruined my bounce back hope. Alex Gordon and Zack Greinke eventually righted the ship, and maybe Hosmer can too.

Chris Getz:

2012 ZIPS

2012 Actual

2013 ZIPS

.266/.323/.320

.275/.312/.360

.259/.310/.316

Johnny Gio:

2012 ZIPS

2012 Actual

2013 ZIPS

.271/.320/.384

.238/.270/.304

.266/.316/.368

It is almost a certainty the Getzy will get the 2B position because the Royals LOVE him. I’m not sure how, since last year was a "good" year for him in which he hit for a mediocre average, bad OBP, and terrible power along with a propensity for being hurt. There is no upside to Getz, and he should not get the job based on his average glove work. Gio at least has some upside due to his significant power advantage, and it would be nice for him to actually get to be the starter for a significant amount of time. Last year he got under 200 Pas and only in September did he really get the shot at playing every day. Either way 2B is probably not going to be a position of strength, but it wasn’t last year either, so I will think of it as a wash going into the season with some upside if Johnny’s bat shows up.

Alcides Escobar:

2012 ZIPS

2012 Actual

2013 ZIPS

.270/.309/.366

.293/.331/.390

.271/.312/.366

Escobar had quite a year last year, and the ZIPS projections expect it was all fluke evidently (along with every other projection system I’ve seen). I’m not entirely sure why no one believes that at least part of last year was sustainable. Alcides age and pedigree suggest that he doesn’t need to turn back into a pumpkin. I tend to think the average is likely to be a little lower, but his OBP could still be in the .320 range and his power will always be lacking. My expectation is a slight regression with hope that he will have a similar performance and create that as his base-line.

Mike Moustakas:

2012 ZIPS

2012 Actual

2013 ZIPS

.274/.316/.436

.242/.296/.412

.264/.310/.430

Moose had a much worse season than most realize. His first half was solid, so his overall numbers didn’t look as bad as Hosmer’s most of the year, but he was really bad in the second half of the season. ZIPS feels that he will be better this year, but worse than their projection a year ago. Basically, if he and Hosmer don’t turn things around this season is going to be tough. My biggest concern is that his bat won’t bounce back and his defense will go back to our original expectation after being a very good defender last year. Moose calls may have a significant amount to do with Royal success in 2013.

Alex Gordon:

2012 ZIPS

2012 Actual

2013 ZIPS

.278/.358/.464

.294/.368/.455

.269/.352/.434

Lorenzo Cain:

2012 ZIPS

2012 Actual

2013 ZIPS

.259/.314/.370

.266/.316/.419

.259/.311/.383

Jeff Francoeur:

2012 ZIPS

2012 Actual

2013 ZIPS

.273/.314/.437

.235/.287/.378

.261/.305/.413

Outfield is quite the mixed bag. At this point I believe Gordon is what he has been the last two years, and am assuming a similar season is coming. Why ZIPS hates Gordon is beyond me, and I will just ignore them. Cain showed a lot last year by flashing significantly more power than expected. His projections say part of that is real, and a line from center of his 2013 ZIPS would be a nice improvement over what the Royals got out of CF last year with Cain hurt for so much of the year. Then there’s Frenchy. There is almost no way Francoeur can be as bad as he was last year, or at least there is no way he can be that bad and stay in the everyday line-up, or at least I hope the Royals will pull the plug if he is that terrible. If he can just be a replacement level player, and Cain can meet that projection, then the Royals win 3 to 5 more games.

Billy Butler:

2012 ZIPS

2012 Actual

2013 ZIPS

.295/.362/.462

.313/.373/.510

.295/.362/.476

Projections by nature are somewhat conservative, but this one along with Gordon’s ridiculous projection for 2013 make me question what these things are factoring in. Shouldn’t near term results (like last year) be weighted more? Shouldn’t this be more true for people in their prime production years? Anyway, Country Breakfast can really, really hit. Expecting him to repeat last year is probably a bit much, but it also wouldn’t surprise me. He will hit for a high average and get on base, so the only question is if he can repeat the power production. Now that I said it that way, I expect he will be very similar to last year. Seriously, he will turn 27 in April, and doubles turning into home runs for someone with his past is not surprising. When he hits 29 or 30 I am going to get nervous due to his build, but for the next couple of years I expect him to mash.

That’s all of the probably hitters. Butler, Gordon, and whoever plays second base I expect to produce at a similar level. The negative position is likely going to be a slight regression from Escobar. That means I expect better production from 5 positions. Hosmer, Francoeur/other RF, and Moustakas because it would be hard for them not to be better, and Cain and Sal Perez playing more should be helpful as well. Overall the offense will hopefully take a step in the right direction in 2013 (though a smaller step than it would have been with Myer in right). Last year they scored 676 runs and I would expect to make it to around 700 or slightly better in 2013, which puts them directly in the middle of majors.

Starting Pitching

I am going to forego posting ZIPS projections for the pitchers since they HATE the Royals’ starters. Their projection in summary is that Shields will pitch a lot, but way less effectively. Jeremy Guthrie and Wade Davis will be 5th starters and everyone else should not be starting in the major leagues. My starting five would be Shields, Santana, Guthrie, Mendoza, and Chen going into spring training. My expectation is that Mendoza is not going to get a shot despite earning it last year, and Davis takes his place. I also expect Hochevar to end up as the fifth with Chen getting the short end of the stick. Hochevar should be cut (actually shouldn’t have been signed) before the season starts, but he won’t be due to…Well, I actually have no idea why the Royals are doing the Davies bonus season again. Regardless, this starting rotation is much better than last year’s opening day rotation. Ervin Santana is a huge risk/reward player, like Sanchez last year, but without the ridiculous control problems that Sanchez has had his whole career. Ervin has never walked more than 3.5 per 9 in the majors, and Sanchez has never been under 4 per 9. Davis should be given every opportunity in the spring to get into the rotation, and I hope he makes it in place of Chen for my preferred starting five. That would, in my opinion, give the Royals a slightly below average starting rotation, which is way better than the slightly below atrocious starting five I am used to. Also, Duffy and Paulino could be helpful in the second half, and Will Smith looked like a capable fill in for injuries and such. No starts should go to the likes of the aforementioned Jonathan Sanchez, Vin Mazzaro, Nate Adcock, or Ryan Verdugo who combined for 26 starts a year ago. Couple that with a bullpen that should still be stout with Crow, Herrara, Collins, and Holland giving them four very deadly weapons at the back end, and I would not be surprised to see the Royals to go from 746 runs given up a year ago to something more like 700, which brings us to the problem.

This team looks like a team that will give up runs at similar pace to what it will score. That means I look at them as 500ish team, and maybe just a touch better than that due to the division being particularly weak. For the Royals to approach 90 wins and hope for a playoff birth a few things need to happen. Hosmer and Moustakas arriving, Hosmer like we expected last year and Moose approaching 30 HRs, could add another 5 wins or so. If you add those to the expected gains talked about in the hitters before, and the improved rotation, now we could project 85 wins which is starting to get into the contention ballpark. If they don’t quite arrive something else needs to give, and my best guess is that the starting rotation is better than average. That could happen in a couple of different ways. Ervin Santana being what he was in the second half of last year would be one, and ditto for Guthrie. Otherwise it would need to be a couple of Mendoza/Davis/Hochevar taking a step forward, and possibly a strong return from either or both of Paulino Duffy. What’s nice about these scenarios, as opposed to other years, is that we don’t need all of them to happen. A couple players having nice years, and not even out of the expected realm of possibilities, could push this team into contention. Maybe then we could even add a real right fielder before the trading deadline and really be talking about a solid team.

Anyway, this team has potential, but the current construction is pretty average. Hopefully the horrific beginning to last season can be avoided, and this team can put together a bit of a run. Either way I am ready for baseball.

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.

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